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Madison County to use waste to power businesses

Ellen Abbott/WRVO
Johnson Brothers Lumber breaks ground on a new kiln facility.

Madison County is hoping to turn environmental stewardship into jobs. At least one business is putting up  shop near the county’s landfill, with the intent to use energy captured from decaying trash.

Johnson Brothers Lumber, a third generation company out of Cazenovia, is taking their sustainability initiative to the next level. They’re building a kiln that will dry wood next door to the Madison County’s Gas-to-Energy facility in Wampsville, according to company vice president Mike Johnson.

“It’s a large energy source. It will allow us to not use alternative energy like we do now, burning our own wood chips. This will save us money. We will sell those wood chips, and use the free heat to heat our kilns,” said Johnson.

The energy will come from the methane created by the landfill. Half of it will be returned to the electric grid, the other half will creates a heat waste that the Johnson Brothers will use to power their kilns.  

Madison County officials hope they won’t be alone. The county’s Industrial Development Agency chief, Kip Hicks, says there are plans in the works to turn 150 acres of the property owned by the county’s Solid Waste Department into a business park called the Agriculture and Renewal Energy Business Park. Hicks says there’s already interest.

“We’ve been talking with companies that are doing C and D Waste recycling, which is commercial debris. Companies that are trying to build LEED certified standards can use that material,” said Hicks. “So we’re hoping to recruit in a firm. We also have another couple of prospects that are processing plastics into oil.”

Johnson Brothers’ new kilns should be up and running by next summer.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.