The Facts about Renewable Energy from Trash
and Why It Deserves Connecticut's Support
Connecticut has six trash-to-energy plants. Each year, they process more than two million tons of municipal solid waste – that’s over 90 percent of the state’s post-recycled trash.
They turn that trash into enough electricity to power almost 300,000 homes.
Trash-to-energy plants are equipped with emissions controls that are superior to other waste combustion and coal-fired power plants. Trash-to-energy plants are subject to Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT)-based standards, which are much stricter than the health-based standards they replaced.
Testing shows that emissions from CRRA’s Hartford trash-to-energy plant for dioxin, mercury and particulate matter are 90 percent cleaner than those strict MACT standards.
An analysis using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency models determined that trash-to-energy also avoids 36 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Each ton of trash turned into electricity avoids nearly one ton of CO2-equivalent emissions through avoided methane emissions from landfills and avoided CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and metal recycling.
The U.S. EPA praised the outstanding performance of the nation’s trash-to-energy facilities by stating that “these plants produce 2,800 megawatts of electricity with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity.”
In fact, trash-to-energy offers an additional environmental benefit – preservation of precious landfill space. Trash-to-energy reduces by about 90 percent the volume of waste that must go into a landfill.
Trash-to-energy is helping Connecticut achieve an important distinction: When the Windsor-Bloomfield landfill closes, as expected in the middle of this decade, Connecticut will be the first state in the nation with no active trash landfills.
The State of Maryland has just classified trash-to-energy as a source of Class 1 renewable power. Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates that 8 percent of all electricity sold in our state come from Class 1 renewable sources, but because Connecticut produces so little Class 1 renewable power our state must import it at a premium price.
H.B. 5118 would designate trash-to-energy plants as Class 1 renewable sources. Not only would this legislation improve the state’s ability to meet its own Renewable Portfolio Standard, but the additional electric revenue would defray the cost of garbage disposal, an extra benefit for cities, towns and residents.
Connecticut is working to reduce the amount of trash it generates. But until there is no more trash, there will still be a need for trash-to-energy plants. For the foreseeable future, trash will be a renewable, locally-produced fuel source.
Trash-to-energy makes sense for Connecticut. H.B. 5118 would recognize its benefits.