General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) announced that it will make a $24 million investment on electrical generation equipment that will allow the company to generate its own electricity from landfill gas for use in GM assembly plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Orion, Michigan.
The investment will be used to build a powerhouse at each facility, and to install electricity generation equipment. This makes GM the first North American automaker to generate its own electricity.
The excess gas flare that would normally escape into the air is instead being redirected back into the facility for creating electricity that will power the manufacturing operations.
Bill Mortimer, GM co-generation project manager, said that with this project in place, GM is converting landfill gas into electricity for their own use, which in essence allows them to act as their own utility.
He added that it not only saves on energy costs, but also limits the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.
The new equipment will help GM generate more than 14MW of renewable energy, reducing the company’s annual emissions by 89,000 metric tons of CO2 – equivalent to taking 18,542 cars off the road. GM will save $10 million each year in energy costs for both plants combined.
Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy, said GM has made a commitment to increase their use of renewable energy to 125MW by 2020. He noted that this expansion represents more than 10 percent of that goal.
The Orion Assembly Plant has been using landfill gas since 1999. At present, it uses the gas to heat a paint shop. Once the power plant and the other new electricity generation equipment is installed, a full 54 percent of the Orion plant’s energy consumption will be fulfilled by the electricity produced from landfill gas.
The Fort Wayne Assembly Plant has likewise been using landfill gas since 2002. Installation of the new equipment will increase the use of landfill gas at the plant to 40 percent.