Wastewater Plant His Net Zero Energy, Saving $50,000 for Municipality

A wastewater treatment plant in Gresham, Oregon, has achieved net zero energy consumption.

To achieve this, the plant, back in 2005, installed a biogas generator, which allows the facility to convert methane gas into energy. In 2010, the plant installed a 1,900-panel solar array to add to the facility’s renewable energy initiatives.

Then, in 2012, the plant began accepting restaurant waste, which includes oil and grease. The facility harnessed this energy by turning sludge into biogas. According to efficientgov.com, this particular move helped double the facility’s production of biogas and eventually helped push the plant towards its goal of net zero energy.

Since the implementation of energy efficient measures, the plant has gone from a monthly energy bill of $50,000 to $0. The Gresham wastewater treatment plant is the second plant in the U.S. to reach net zero energy.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), on its website, states:

A local government can have immediate impact on the energy performance of one of the key facilities under its control by targeting wastewater and water treatment facilities. Wastewater plants and drinking water systems can account for up to one-third of a municipality’s total energy bill (EPA 2009a). These facilities represent a significant portion of controllable energy usage and offer opportunities for cost-effective investments in energy-efficient technologies.

Municipalities across the U.S. are encouraging energy efficient measures at wastewater treatment plants. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation’s Net Zero Energy Wastewater Treatment Program awards grants to plants committed to achieving net zero energy performance.

And just two years ago, The New York Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the installation of three new boilers and a new exhaust capture system at the city’s Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant on Staten Island. The $30 million project helps push the city towards the OneNYC initiative of achieving net zero energy use at the city’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

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