Fort Meade, county set methane energy deal

January 18, 2008|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

Fort Meade will pump methane gas from an Anne Arundel County landfill to generate electricity at the growing Army post under a tentative deal announced yesterday, three months after the talks appeared to have collapsed.

The terms of the agreement, which a county spokeswoman characterized as in the "verbal preliminary stages," call for Fort Meade to buy the methane gas from the Millersville landfill. The fort and its contractors will foot the bill for the design and construction of a five-mile pipeline and other infrastructure needed for the collection and use of the methane gas.

"This is a win-win partnership for all the parties concerned," Col. Kenneth O McCreedy, the post commander, said in a statement. "It provides a revenue stream for Anne Arundel County; it reduces our energy costs; and, it makes good environmental sense."

County Executive John R. Leopold said the county will now make money off of methane gas that previously has been burned off at the landfill.

The 564-acre site holds about 12 million cubic yards of garbage and each day generates tens of thousands of cubic feet of methane, which is naturally produced by the decomposing garbage.

The Army needs to power up 1.3 million square feet of office space it is building to accommodate the 4,300-employee Defense Information Systems Agency and other tenants moving to Fort Meade as part of the federal base realignment and closure process.

In October 2006, County Executive Janet S. Owens and McCreedy signed a memorandum of understanding to open formal discussions on how much methane the facility can produce, how much the county would charge and how it would be transported to the post.

But by November of last year, officials were pessimistic that a deal could be struck. McCreedy said there were differences regarding the "economics" of building a pipeline, and county officials said costs had escalated to the point where it no longer seemed like a viable project.

Justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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