By Amy Kawata

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Trash from Baltimore County residents will now be used to produce renewable energy thanks to a new partnership that is projected to save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next fiscal year.

The gas-to-energy program is the first major step toward a goal the county set back in 2016 to generate at least 20 percent of its electric demand from renewable sources by 2022.

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“Our goal is to have Baltimore County have all renewable energy in the future,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.

Through the partnership between the county and Energy Power Partners, it will offset at least 11 percent of the county’s total energy consumption.

County leaders said the effort will reduce its carbon footprint while saving nearly $300,000 annually.

“We know that methane is one of the worst sources and contributors to climate change in the world and that landfills are the third-largest source of methane release,” Olszewski said.

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Instead of burning methane gas off with a landfill flare, Energy Power Partners will collect gas produced by the Eastern Sanitary Landfill in White Marsh to create power with on-site generators.

Experts said the power will be the equivalent of 1,600 homes and the removal of 2,000 cars off the road.

County leaders said they plan to continue exploring additional efforts to produce renewable energy and protect the environment.

“We get one shot at our earth, and we have an obligation to care for it the best we can,” Olszewski said.

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Officials expect the second phase of the project to be done by the end of the year.