LAYTON -- If the Layton landfill is going to last 25 more years, it will continue to need the accompaniment of the 26-year-old Davis Waste to Energy Recovery Facility, an incinerator that reduces by 90 percent the volume of waste being buried in the landfill.
That is where the ongoing negotiations between the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District, operator of the waste incinerator, and Hill Air Force Base, buyer of the steam generated from burning the waste, come in.
In previous years the district has had a series of three-year agreements with the base, which purchases the steam to heat half of the buildings on base, according to Nathan Rich, executive director of Wasatch Integrated Waste in Layton, at 650 E. State Road 193.
The current contract with the base is to expire April 6, Rich said, and in its place he hopes that the base and district can reach a 10-year agreement, which would allow the district to make the necessary capital re-investment into the plant to ensure it remains operational.
Base leaders confirm that its partnership with the district has been successful and negotiations are under way.
"Hill Air Force Base has had a long, successful partnership with Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District that dates back to the 1980s," said Harry Briesmaster, 75th Civil Engineer Group director.
"Our current agreement to purchase steam is due to expire in April 2014, and we are currently in early discussions with them to continue this partnership," Briesmaster said.
On Feb. 15, the Davis Energy Recovery Facility processed its 3 millionth ton of waste, Rich said. As of the end of July the plant had processed 3,050,044 tons of municipal solid waste since opening in 1987.
And there is still 25 years of life left on the current Layton landfill, unless the burn plant were to stop operating. That would result in the landfill filling at a faster rate, based on county growth and the inability to reduce the volume of waste being brought there, Rich said.
That is why being able to sell the steam generated from the plant to the base is important to the district's operation.The district is receiving from the base $7.40 for every 1,000 pounds of steam purchased, Rich said.
The facility uses waste to generate renewable steam, which is used by the base primarily to heat buildings.
As of the end of July the district, since the plant's opening, has shipped about 11.3 billion pounds -- or 450 million pounds annually, of steam to the base, Rich said.
Steam sales to the base generate about $3 million a year in revenue for the district, he said.
"They (base officials) recognize the value we bring," Rich said of the district being able to offer the base a more affordable, cleaner steam alternative.
"Essentially, garbage is used to generate steam that would otherwise be generated by the base using natural gas or fuel oil," Rich said.
"Every ton of waste processed through a modern waste-to-energy facility results in a net reduction of approximately 1 ton of CO2 equivalent emissions into the atmosphere," he said.
The volume of waste coming to the district's landfill has also been reduced as a result of local communities introducing curbside comingling recycling programs, Rich said.
For Davis County being considered a "conservative county," Rich said, about 30 years ago they had some pretty forward-thinking people when they moved to have the energy recovery facility built.