Electricity from Garbage Comes to Northern Illinois


During the public hearings with Waste Management and DeKalb County more than once citizens asked, what about capturing the methane and using it to produce energy. Waste Management’s response was that it was not cost effective at our County landfill. This is not the case just a few miles North of DeKalb outside of Davis Junction at the Orchard Hills Landfill.

Hoosier Energy, a rural electric cooperative based in Bloomington Ind. has $37 million plant to convert methane gas from the landfill into electricity. When methane is converted into electricity a tremendous amount of heat is also produced in the process. That heat could be used by a factory, greenhouse, or other company looking for green-energy heat for operations.

In Racine WI, S.C. Johnson heats and powers a 2.2 million square foot factory with waste heat from landfill gas conversion. Near Detroit a Hoosier Energy methane power plant heats a building for automotive supplier Visteon, saving the company nearly $350,000 a year.

This is another example of looking to the future of solid waste as a source for energy. Another reason why the DeKalb County officials should be using the time the law suit with Waste Management is tied up in the Appellate Court system to be planning for the future. We have had a year to reach out to companies like Hoosier, and there is many and more every month, which is looking for opportunities to take solid waste and turn it into power.

Capturing the methane is only one example; there is also safe incineration, as well as anaerobic digestion, as other ways businesses are creating energy with garbage.

Regardless of the Appellate Court’s decision our solid waste needs and problems will not go away.  And whether we like it or not there is now an elementary school with ¼ of a mile of the landfill, an elementary school that houses over 300 children every day nearly 200 days a year. It is our responsibility to insure their safety as well as insure their future energy and solid waste needs. A County Board looking toward the future would be doing the necessary research and inviting companies into the county that could do both for our children. We owe it to them to do all we can to protect them and provide a sustainable safe future.

If you would like to contribute to the effort to prevent our landfill from becoming the dumping ground for Cook County and 16 other Northeast Illinois Counties send a contribution of any size to: Stop the Mega-Dump, P.O. Box 363, DeKalb IL 60115. Also take your aluminum cans to DIMCO on Grove Street in DeKalb and ask them to credit the money to the Stop the Mega-Dump account.

We need to take our future and our children’s future into our own hands and not depend upon elected officials or corporations, or experts to do it for us.


  1. Dan Kenney’s piece ignores well-known facts. During the hearing which led to the County Board’s approving the expansion of the DeKalb County Landfill, Waste Management said the existing landfill would not currently support a plant that converted landfill gas to electricity. In fact, Waste Management plans to develop a power plant as the facility grows in the years ahead. The truth is Waste Management pioneered landfill-gas-to-electricity technology in the 1980s and developed some of its first plants here in Illinois. The Company is committed to beneficially using landfill gas and developing new environmental technologies. In Illinois alone, Waste Management today operates 11 landfill gas-to-energy facilities and will open another in Will County later this year. Together, they generate 41.5 megawatts of electricity — enough to power more than 35,000 homes. In total, Waste Management owns or operates more than 120 landfill gas-to-energy facilities across North America, producing enough electricity to power more than 400,000 homes.