Way back in 1968, the city of Mountain View, Calif., set aside a 500-acre site for the dumping of garbage from San Francisco. After closing 13 years later, the dump was gradually turned into park land, incorporating a lake and a golf course. But the garbage didn’t go away, and build-up of methane gas had to be burned off regularly. Until now, that is.

This spring, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will begin using the methane produced by the old city dump as a cost-effective way of powering its nearby facility. The methane is not only cheaper than natural gas, there is also enough of it under the golf course, J&J believes, to supply half of the facility’s energy needs–at a flat rate–for 15 years. “It has been a great project from lots of viewpoints,” says Dennis Canavan, executive director for worldwide energy management at J&J headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J. “We get a cheap source of fuel for the next 15 years, the city gets some income, and the environment doesn’t have methane pumped into it.”

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