When most Californians think about the source of renewable energy flowing into their homes, they picture wind turbines and solar panels — not garbage.
The little-known source of electricity has flowed into California's power grid for decades, but a groundbreaking Thursday for yet another trash-driven power project at a massive Orange County landfill could be one of the last on the books. With the evaporation of tax credits and grants and dropping natural gas prices, the waste pit near Irvine is one of the last in the nation that's large enough to generate enough power to be profitable.
"A lot of the good sites have been picked through and are under contract or have projects already. California still has landfills out there, but the economies of scale aren't there," said Chris Davis, vice president of development at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Montauk Energy, which is building the project. "This one is one of the last of the large sites in California, and one of the last of the large sites in the nation."