Methane-to-Electricity Plant is SMMPA's newest renewable resource

Methane-to-Electricity Plant is SMMPA's newest renewable resource

July 11, 2012

Methane gas captured at a landfill near Mora, Minnesota is SMMPA’s newest renewable energy resource. Under a 20-year agreement with the East Central Solid Waste Commission (ECSWC), a group of five counties in Minnesota, and in partnership with the City of Mora, SMMPA will purchase methane gas from decomposing waste and use it to fuel a 1.6-megawatt generator that will provide power, equal to about what 1,600 households use, to the SMMPA Members.

The municipal solid waste, collected from the five counties that comprise ECSWC, is transported to and stored at the ECSWC landfill near Mora. The plant, developed through a unique partnership between ECSWC, the City of Mora and SMMPA will offset the annual CO2 emissions equivalent to operating 13,016 passenger vehicles. The facility will reduce the amount of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2, emitted by the landfill by 3,187 tons per year. SMMPA’s cost for installing this renewable generation was $3.7 million.  East Central

Solid Waste Commission was responsible for the costs associated with supplying the landfill gas to the engine.  No tax dollars were spent on this project.

ECSWC operates and maintains the methane collection system to provide an adequate supply of renewable fuel to the generator system.  SMMPA designed, financed and managed the project and operates the generation equipment. SMMPA also designed and installed 4.5 miles of 13.8-kilovolt underground cable linking the project to the distribution system of Mora Municipal Utilities, a SMMPA Member.  Mora Municipal Utilities owns and operates the electrical distribution system fed by the land fill gas generator. The utility also provides technicians to maintain the engine and generator. A goal of the partnership is to eventually add a second generator to the project site.

"SMMPA is all about reliably delivering low-cost electricity in the most environmentally-friendly way possible, so this project made perfect sense for us.  We and our partners, The City of Mora and ECSWC, are adding a low-cost source of energy to our portfolio.  Plus, we are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process,” said Dave Geschwind, Executive Director and CEO of SMMPA.

Janelle Troupe, Executive Director of the ECSWC  said “The night we no longer see the flare burning at the landfill, we will know that our landfill gas is truly being put to a good use further reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  This is definitely a positive move for our community.” 

Joel Dhein, City Administrator, City of Mora added, “This project utilizes a local resource for the benefit of the local community and is a positive example of how public power is meeting our future energy needs.”

Twelve percent of the energy SMMPA is supplying to its 18 Member communities in 2012 comes from renewable and carbon-free sources.


About East Central Solid Waste Commission
The ECSWC was formed in 1988 through a joint powers agreement for the purposes of establishing and conducting a solid waste management program and for planning collectively on behalf of the member counties.  The member counties consist of Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine. For more information about ECSWC, please visit

About Mora Municipal Utilities
Mora Municipal Utilities provides electricity and related services to approximately 1,850 customers in the city of Mora, Minnesota and about 100 customers in the rural area west of the city. For more information about Mora Municipal Utilities, please visit