Commerce Refuse-To-Energy Brochure


Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility

Generates electricity for
20,000 homes

5926 Sheila St.
Commerce, CA 90040


Planning for the Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility began in 1981. The original goal of the project was to demonstrate that refuse-to-energy is a viable alternative method of solid waste management in the South Coast Air Basin, where air pollution requirements are the toughest in the world. The Facility has achieved its goal, having been in successful operation since 1987.

The Commerce facility was the first plant in the world to use a unique state-of-the-art combination of air pollution control devices. These devices consist of ammonia and limestone injections into the furnace, followed by a dry scrubber, and finishing with a baghouse. This combination of devices has earned the Commerce facility the reputation for being among the cleanest of all the plants of this type in the world.


The Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility produces power seven days a week, 24 hours per day. An average of 120 trucks per day deliver loads Monday through Friday during normal working hours. The facility burns an average of 360 tons of trash per day and generates ten megawatts (net) of electricity for sale to the Southern California Edison Company (SCE). This is enough electricity for 20,000 Southern California homes. The facility also provides certified destruction services for classified or sensitive documents and materials. Documents such as medical or government-classified records are destroyed through the burning process. The facility is approved by the Department of Defense for this service. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulated waste disposal service is also provided at the site. USDA waste may consist of materials derived from fruits, vegetables, meats, plants, poultry, waste generated on board or removed from conveyance during international or interstate movements, or unconsumed meals or foods by passengers or crews on aircrafts. This type of service is approved and in compliance with the USDA and the Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS). Only cartage firms approved by USDA and APHIS are permitted to deliver loads to the site.

Sophisticated air pollution control equipment approved by the Air Quality Management District consistently maintains low emissions. Testing of the emissions is performed continuously with in-stack monitors.


The Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility is renowned as one of the best refuse-to-energy plants in the world, having produced some of the lowest emissions on record and operating an innovative ash reuse system. The system has won four national awards:

  • Environmental Protection Award from "Power" Magazine

  • Award of Excellence from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)

  • Grand Prize for Operation/Management from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers

  • Facility Recognition Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers