Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced the city last week as a winner of the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.
“These organizations represent the spirit and drive that make the Volunteer State great,” Haslam said. “I thank all of the winners for their individual contributions to the environment and for keeping Tennessee a beautiful state in which to live and work and to visit.”
Winners will be recognized for their achievements and positive impact on the state’s natural resources in an awards ceremony to be held in Nashville on June 16.
With the addition of a waste-to-energy plant, Lebanon is eliminating tons of waste streams from reaching landfills. In 2015, the mayor and city council began to research ways to take care of the city’s waste because a local landfill is almost at capacity.
This is the first commercial plant of its kind in the state and currently the largest downdraft gasifier in the world.
“This facility is a win for the people of Lebanon,” said Mayor Bernie Ash. “This project has brought worldwide attention to our great city. We truly are a model green city.”
The city of Lebanon takes top honors in the category of energy and renewable resources for the gasification plant and the other energy-saving programs that are operating in the city. The city is also installing solar panels at both the water treatment facility and the wastewater treatment plant.
A residential recycling program is also underway in the city with plans for expansion. Several city vehicles were already converted from fossil fuels to natural gas.
City officials said all these are efforts make Lebanon a model city in the area of renewable, green energy.
The city brought in Aries Clean Energy, a renewable energy company based in Nashville, to see what could be done with wood waste, discarded tires and biosolids. The Aries gasification system uses wood, tires and biosolids for fuel and converts those into a gas used to run generators.
The electricity made at the plant helps to offset the electric bill for the wastewater treatment plant.
“Aries Clean Energy is pleased that our proven and patented technology helps Lebanon reach its energy and sustainability goals,” said Aries CEO Greg Bafalis. “We join the governor in congratulating the city of Lebanon for leading the state in the area of energy and renewable resources and for being a model for others.”
A public-private partnership with Rockwood Recycling and Wilson County government is key to the plant making Lebanon greener and cleaner without the need for taxpayer support. Rockwood collects wood waste from local industry, and the county contributes the discarded tires and saves money as opposed to its previous disposal method.
Rockwood also prepares the wood and tire by grinding and screening for debris.
“The Lebanon Gasification Initiative is exciting. We are operating the model of waste to energy for the world,” said Scott McRae, project manager of the gasification initiative. “This is a game changer. We are taking landfill waste and turning it into green electricity.”
Because of the partnerships, every year the Lebanon plant will:
• divert 8,000 tons of wood and biosolid waste from the landfill – this is equal to a line of semi trucks four miles long.
• convert 450 tons of or about 36,000 tires into electricity.
• eliminate 2,500 tons of carbon emissions from the air.
• generate 1.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – this is equal to the power for 312 homes for a year.
The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect our environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation. In its 31st year, the awards program covers nine categories, building green; clean air, energy and renewable resources; environmental education and outreach; environmental education and outreach for schools; land use; materials management; natural heritage; and sustainable performance.
A panel of 22 professionals representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental and academic professionals judged more than 89 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria, including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.
For more information, visit tn.gov/environment/topic/sp-gesa-governors-environmental-stewardship-awards.