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Turning trash to power

April 21, 2001

Karen S. Kim

HILLSIDE DISTRICT -- The old shoes, coffee grounds, orange peels and

tattered clothes Burbank residents toss in the trash could be used to

power their televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners and swimming

pool heaters this summer.

Eight microturbine units -- energy generators -- will be installed at

Burbank's landfill by June to convert methane gas, the natural byproduct

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released when trash decomposes, into a renewable form of energy, the City

Council decided Tuesday.

Burbank Water and Power has been planning the microturbine project for

more than a year and received a grant offer for $250,000 from the

California Energy Commission last month, BWP officials said.

Supplementing the state grant, the BWP will use $250,000 of its own

funds to pay for the project.

Methane gas from the trash presently is harnessed and burned off in

accordance with the Air Quality Management District's regulations for air

pollution. The eight microturbine units will take the harnessed methane

and produce 300 kilowatts of electricity, or enough to power about 400

single-family homes, BWP Director Ron Davis said.

"You're getting energy out of something that today is just going to

waste," he said.

The project should be up and running by summer, when Burbank's typical

energy demand of about 180 megawatts increases significantly, Davis said.

The microturbine project will run in conjunction with the BWP's

conservation efforts for this summer.

"This [project] is the exact same thing as conservation," Davis said.

"We're producing 300 kilowatts, which is the equivalent of reducing the

people's load by 300 kilowatts."

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