POCATELLO, Idaho -

Update: On Wednesday morning the Bannock County Commissioners gave the stamp of approval for the landfill staff to seek bids for constructing the generator's building structure.

The project managers can also seek bids for the chiller that cleans up the methane gas. 

These bids will open on August 14 and the project managers said they are on schedule to have everything up and running by January 2014.

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The Bannock County commissioners have awarded a $1.3 million contract to Western Equipment to build a methane-powered generator at the county's landfill this upcoming January.

This past week the commissioners heard three bids to build the generator, which is the first step in the $4.5 million landfill project slated to span over a 20-year commitment before completion.

The generator will turn the methane gas released by decomposing landfill waste into energy which is expected to then be sold to Idaho Power.

"This is a great benefit because we are turning methane gas into power and it is an energy project we are are really proud of," Bannock County Regulatory Compliance Manager Therese Marchetti said.

Marchetti estimated there to be just under three decades worth of trash piled into the landfill, which is almost completely filled to the top.

As the trash decomposes, it releases methane gas, an odorless gas which can be deadly if inhaled and extremely flammable.

The generator will collect the gas through a series of 36 wells that run from the landfill to the generator's site. The gas will then go through a process after hitting the chiller, and the "clean gas" will be sent to a power grid collected by the power company.

Bidding for the chiller will not open until July, along with the building which will house the generator.

Marchetti said this new system will end up paying for itself, saving the county between $13 to 15 million over the next six to eight years.

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