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Springfield could earn millions each year by selling renewable natural gas generated by landfill waste

Noble Hill Sanitary Landfill is shown in an undated photo.
City of Springfield
Noble Hill Sanitary Landfill is shown in an undated photo.

Meanwhile, Springfield City Council wants to consider revamping the city’s patchwork of 17 privately-owned trash haulers.

Matt Simpson represents southeast Springfield on City Council.

"I think the RNG project is a no-brainer," he said at Tuesday's Council lunch workshop.

RNG means renewable natural gas. And RNG was a big topic of conversation at council’s workshop this week.

Renewable natural gas can be captured from various forms of municipal waste — they include trash, sewage, livestock manure; and waste generated by food preparation, yard work and growing crops. When that biogas is cleaned up and filtered, it can become renewable natural gas — or RNG — a source of power with 90% or greater methane content.

Springfield’s plan to make and sell renewable natural gas would cost roughly $32 million up front. The money would build biogas facilities at the Noble Hill Landfill and the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant. It would cost another $3 million each year to operate and maintain the project.

Construction could be complete as early as late 2025. Afterward, the city could earn money from selling RNG for heating, electricity and other industrial uses — to the tune of $4 million to $19 million each year.

City council members were receptive to the idea. They already approved a design-build process for the project back in March. And, after hearing a presentation on Springfield’s history of waste management, many councilmembers said they wanted to revisit Springfield’s complicated network of 17 privately owned trash haulers.

Here’s Simpson again: "In my neighborhood, we’ve got five days a week, we’ve got trash trucks coming up and down the street. It's more wear and tear on the street, it’s noise, it impacts quality of life, and I think service has declined.”

In 2017, the city considered replacing those companies with a municipal trash service, but opted against it after a resident survey. At Tuesday’s meeting, council members including Mayor Ken McClure, Simpson, Monica Horton, Derek Lee, Craig Hosmer and Heather Hardinger said they’d support looking at some type of reform for Springfield trash and recycling pickup.

Hardinger said, "I do think there are a lot of challenges that could come with this. I mean, minimizing the impact on the businesses that currently exist is going to be a priority.”

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.