When production of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano kicks off this fall, 40 percent of the energy that powers General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant will come from methane captured from a nearby landfill site. This use of the landfill gas will reduce GM’s energy costs by $1.1 million a year and cut the amount of greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere.
Use of landfill gas is one of several methods GM is using to lessen the Orion Assembly Plant’s environmental impact. Others include: lighting system upgrades that will save an estimated 5,944 megawatts of electricity per year while also slashing CO2 emissions by 3,676 metric tons and an upgraded paint shop that’s heated by natural and landfill gas and uses approximately half of the energy (per vehicle) of the outdated paint shop that it replaced.
Maureen Midgley, GM’s executive director of global manufacturing engineering, says that these modifications will enable the Orion Assembly Plant to “reduce greenhouse gas production by about 80,000 metric tons at a full three-shift capacity.” That’s roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions from 14,000 vehicles.
Hey, every little bit helps. Don’t discount GM’s “radical” conversion to energy [and cost] savings. There is no doubt that the loans to GM that brought them back from near-extinction included a lot of ear-bending and arm-twisting about entering the 21st Century.
Good sense and economics often isn’t sufficient to modernize politicians or capitalists.