Source: Sherman Publications

Renewable energy will save Orion Assembly millions of dollars

December 11, 2013

By Dan Shriner

Review Editor

General Motors announced last week it plans to invest about $13 million into the Orion Assembly Plant that will turn landfill methane from the nearby Waste Management landfill into electricity that will help power the plant.

When the project is completed, 54 percent of Orion Assembly’s energy will be from the renewable energy of the nearby landfill, making it the top GM plant in the nation to use renewable methane.

The project will involve a powerhouse building and installation of electrical generation equipment.

“This project converts landfill gas into our own electric energy for manufacturing,” said Steve Brock, Orion Assembly’s plant manager. “This makes good business sense because it helps us save on energy costs and it makes good environmental sense as it limits the amounts of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere.

Orion Assembly has used some landfill gas to heat and cool parts of the facility since 1999. GM works closely with Waste Management, which operates the nearby landfill.

The new project will mean that 54 percent of the energy will come from the landfill gas. That is more than 10 percent of GM’s goal to have its plants worldwide generate about 125 megawatts by 2020.

Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of renewable energy, said the project is part of a larger global effort by GM to use renewable energy.

“We have made a public commitment to increase our use of renewable energy within GM to 125 megawatts by 2020,” Threlkeld said.

The construction at Orion Assembly is a first step and will make it the top GM facility in the world in the percentage of renewable energy it uses. The Orion project will help GM avoid producing a combined 89,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of annual greenhouse gas emissions from 18,542 passenger vehicles.

Orion Assembly will avoid about 49,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year and save more than $5 million in energy costs annually.

The plant, which builds the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, will spend about $13 million to install the equipment necessary.

The result will be that plant is expected to create about eight megawatts of electricity from the landfill gas. Construction has already begun and the project is expected to be completed in May 2014.