Energy efficiency changes that include two new cogenerators installed at a wastewater treatment plant in Las Cruces, New Mexico, are expected to help save the city $1.4 million annually. The $4.9 million cogeneration project will generate power from methane gas at the Jacob A. Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility, according to an announcement published on KRWG.org.
Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) provides gas, water, and waste services to more than 100,000 residents and businesses in the area. Ever since gas digesters were built at the wastewater treatment facility in the 1980s, treating and disinfecting approximately 3.3 billion gallons of sewage annually has been an expensive process.
By investing in two large cogenerators and a gas purification system, LCU will be able to start using methane from the facility as an energy source. Cogeneration carries several benefits, including reducing annual energy costs for customers and reducing the risk of an electrical power outage that could disable 24-hour plant operations, the utility says.
Besides adding cogeneration, LCU contracted Johnson Controls, Inc. in July to perform a comprehensive Investment-Grade Energy Audit of the their infrastructure and facilities. The audit, which cost around $686,000, will take a detailed look at energy consumption over the past three years. A preliminary projection from Johnson Controls shows that Las Cruces could save at least $1.4 million annually through changes to energy and water usage.
LCU says that the cogenerators, each roughly the size of a school bus and shipped to the city from a GE plant in Austria, should be operational by next summer. The energy audit is due to be completed later this fall.