First U.S. Sewage-Powered Plant Goes Online

by | Oct 20, 2010

While Ameresco opens the first U.S. biogas plant to capture biogas generated during the sewage treatment process and sell it through a commercial gas pipeline, Waste Management announces the first private landfill gas-to-energy project in southwestern Ontario, Canada.

San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and Ameresco have announced the opening of their new biogas facility at the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center. “By reusing biogas instead of burning it off, we are helping protect the city’s air quality and developing a renewable energy resource,” said Robert R. Puente, SAWS president/CEO, in a statement. Previously, SAWS burned off the gas using flares.

Under a 20-year partnership, Ameresco will treat and transfer at least 900,000 cubic feet of gas to a nearby commercial gas pipeline, where they will sell it on the open market. In return, SAWS ratepayers will receive a royalty on the sale of the gas, estimated at $200,000 a year, reducing the cost of SAWS operations and keeping rates affordable.

SAWS is the first large wastewater utility to partner with a private sector company, Ameresco, to actively sell biogas in the United States, according to the companies.

With the addition of the biogas facility, SAWS is recycling and reusing almost all of the waste coming into Dos Rios through what it calls its “recycling trifecta.”

Biosolids are also reused to generate compost, which is used in landscaping, gardening and agriculture to improve soil quality, and about 115 million gallons a day of recycled water are used for the Riverwalk, golf courses, parks, and commercial and industrial customers as well as in the upper San Antonio River and Salado Creek.

In Canada, Waste Management has officially opened the landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) project at its Petrolia Landfill in Petrolia, Ontario, the region’s first private LFGTE facility.

The new facility will use methane gas, created from the natural decomposition of waste, to power up to 2,500 homes in the surrounding area. The gas is collected through wells that are placed throughout the site, which powers four large engines and generates approximately 3.2 megawatts of power.

This is the second facility Waste Management has opened in Ontario and only the third in all of Canada. This is the first of two projects slated for the region, with a second project set for the Twin Creeks Landfill.

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