A massive burial ground for trash in Augusta County could get a second job as a green-energy site.

Apex Wind Energy of Charlottesville is eyeing the Augusta Regional Landfill for a possible wind-energy farm. Such a project could bring a new source of renewable power, and revenue for local governments.

Apex has already worked on land-based and off-shore wind projects in 21 states. The company has just begun a feasibility study, for installing turbines at the 220-acre landfill that serves Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta.

"We continue to look for ways to better use the landfill," said Tracy Pyles, chairman of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. "We have an engineer who does nothing but look for how we can turn this asset into value for us."

The answer could be found near the landfill's highest point. Researchers from James Madison University have installed a 50-meter tower covered with anemometers, which monitor wind speed and its subtle patterns.

"We're trying to determine whether or not we do have enough wind that would sustain a project long term," said Augusta Economic Development Director Dennis Burnett. "And if so, what is the best way to approach that and how would it look here in the valley?"

The research is part of a detailed feasibility study that will also look at the potential impact on wildlife and neighbors. If Apex moves ahead, it would lease property from the landfill - and perhaps some nearby homeowners - to install a small wind farm of 15 to 20 turbines.

Augusta County believes there would be very little wind resistance. 

"This is not something that would be a ridge top. It is not a study area of national forest. It would not require clearing," Burnett pointed out. "So we think that this project is kind of unique in what it brings to the table."

"We would be able to take what is a huge burial site and turn it into a revenue producer for our county," added Pyles. "That's just win-win across the board."

Apex's first step is getting tentative agreements from Augusta, Staunton and Waynesboro. The feasibility study could take a year and a half to complete.