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Fort Wayne GM plant will power up with landfill gas

Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 12:01 am

General Motor's Fort Wayne assembly plant will be part of a pioneering, $24-million investment by the company in harnessing landfill gas to generate electrical power.

The company announced Wednesday that Fort Wayne and the Lake Orion assembly plant will both be refitted for “co-generation.” GM will spend about $11 million at the Fort Wayne plant, which makes Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups.

The plant, in which almost 4,000 employees assemble Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full size pickup trucks, will spend approximately $11 million to install equipment that will create 6.4 megawatts of electricity from landfill gas, a renewable energy source.

Lake Orion Assembly Plant, in Orion, Michigan, will also install co-generation equipment.

The company forecasts that the project will help GM avoid more than 89,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. That's the equivalent of annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 18,000 passenger vehicles. Fort Wayne Assembly will avoid approximately 39,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, and save $3.5 million in energy costs each year.

“This project converts landfill gas into our own electric energy for manufacturing,” said Dave Shenefield, Fort Wayne Assembly's site utilities manager, in a statement announcing the project. “This makes good business sense, because it helps us save on energy costs, and it makes good environmental sense as it limits the amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere.”

Fort Wayne Assembly has used landfill gas to create steam for its boilers since 2002. The electricity generation investment will increase the facility's use of landfill gas four-fold, to 40 percent of its energy usage. Earlier this year, the Fort Wayne plant was named an U.S. EPA Energy Star certified facility for its prudent energy management, the company said.

GM worked closely with its electricity supplier, United REMC, on the project.

The company said its investment in landfill will require installation of large-scale generation equipment, high-voltage electrical switchgear and a structure to house all of the system's components. Construction on both projects has begun and is expected to be complete and operational by May.