Outreach for Biogas Project Planned


The Scholl Canyon biogas project is something those in Glendale have been watching for some time. Some are against the project while others are in favor of it and many just want more answers. On Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. representatives from Glendale Water and Power (GWP) will be hosting a community outreach to answer questions on the project. The event will be held at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. Flyers and information on this meeting started going out to the Glendale community this week.

        “Our project team will be available [at the meeting] to discuss this project with those interested in learning about it,” stated Atineh Haroutunian, GWP. “We are also planning to take this project to the City Council sometime in early January 2023.”

There are some questions the Council wanted answered and some information clarified.

Councilmember Dan Brotman was one person who had asked GWP to revisit the project and provide more information.

“We are expecting GWP and other departments to come back with more information on a number of things, including financial costs and benefits, fire risks and mitigation measures, park options for the landfill site, air quality impacts, noise impacts, potential for gas purification and plans for solar and other distributed energy resources,” Brotman said in an interview with CVW.

The definition of biogas is “gaseous fuel, especially methane, produced by the fermentation of organic matter,” according to Oxford dictionary. Organic matter includes organic waste items like food, green material, landscape and pruning wastes, wood, printing and writing paper and manure, among others.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, biogas is an energy-rich gas produced by anaerobic decomposition or thermochemical conversion of biomass. One example is when organic waste decomposes and heats up it releases biogas, which is mostly methane. This is what happens at landfills.

There are those who have voiced their concerns about the project and want more answers. Some of those concerns include the City’s commitment to solar power projects.

“Council is committed to meeting the solar goals outlined in our recent Clean Energy Resolution. We are planning to discuss next steps in developing a roadmap to meet these goals at the Nov. 15 Council meeting. Every Council has its differences, and we have plenty of them,” Brotman said. “But on this issue, I believe all five of us are on the same page.”

Whether or not the project moves forward the Scholl Canyon landfill continues to accept waste and methane continues to be emitted. So even if the biogas project is rejected there is still an environmental issue.

Brotman said if nothing were done to the landfill it would stay open until it reached its permitted fill level and then it would be closed.

“That should happen in a few years. We have not and cannot just vent the methane – it’s not an option environmentally and, in any case, it’s prohibited by law. We have to capture and process the methane in some way, either by burning it off in flares, burning it in engines to produce electricity or cleaning it up enough so that it can processed in fuel cells,” he said.

This is the “pay the piper” moment that many cities and counties are facing – not only in California but around the world.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the U.S. from 1960. It has released results from 1960 to 2018. Its results stated the total generation of municipal solid waste in 2018 was 292.4 million tons. Of that about 69 million tons were recycled and 25 million tons were composted.

The EPA found that the trend of waste is growing; in 1960 the generation of waste was 2.68 pounds per person, in 2018 it was 4.9 pounds per person. Recycling and composting have increased, which reduced the landfill waste, but that doesn’t diminish the generations of waste already in landfills. The Scholl Canyon landfill has been open since 1961.

The meetings will hopefully be well attended and questions will be answered.

“I expect that some elements will emerge during community meetings,” Brotman said.

Some of those elements, like details on fire risks that have concerned many opposed to the project and investigations of and proposals for solar and distributed energy resources will be presented in December to Council.

 “The rest will probably not get presented until January,” Brotman said. “I hope we have enough questions answered to make a final decision on the project by the end of January.”

Whatever will be done at Scholl Canyon, the process appears to be a thoughtful one from the Council as members ask for more discussion and the community maintains an ever-watchful eye over the project.