Altoona, Pennsylvania – The Altoona Water Authority (AWA) will improve its wastewater plant by transforming the Westerly Wastewater Treatment Facility into a Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) through a guaranteed energy savings agreement (GESA) with Energy Systems Group, LLC (ESG), a leading energy services provider and wholly owned subsidiary of CenterPoint Energy, Inc. The $35.6 million project, signed in September 2020, will increase the plant’s efficiency and enhance its waste processing capabilities. The project will also reduce carbon emissions, create renewable biogas, and provide new revenue to AWA.
The AWA selected ESG in 2018 to develop a solution for its escalating biosolids management costs and to study the viability of an organic waste receiving program at the Westerly facility. Such a program would allow the facility to accept and treat waste from local industries. ESG discovered that there was sufficient waste in the area to develop a receiving program, and it also determined that utilities in neighboring communities faced biosolids disposal issues as well. The project grew to incorporate the acceptance of biosolids from these facilities.
The main feature of the project is a new anaerobic digestion complex that will allow outside waste and biosolids to be trucked in and treated at the facility. The new co-digestion process ESG is implementing at the facility will convert high strength organic waste into renewable energy in the form of biogas, and biosolids will be converted to a Class A dried product through a biogas-fueled thermal drying process that reduces volume and produces a marketable fertilizer product. The ability to accept liquid organic waste from regional industries and biosolids from neighboring municipalities will generate new revenue for the AWA. The project is being funded through a low interest loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority.
“The new revenue from the acceptance of organic waste will allow us to carry out improvements to the facility at a reduced cost,” said the AWA Board. “This will help us get more value for the dollars we spend.”
The organic waste component of the project is anticipated to generate a significant amount of new revenue annually for the AWA through fees paid by suppliers to dispose of their waste. In addition to addressing biosolids treatment processes, the project will also include lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning improvements that will reduce energy consumption at the facility.
“ESG is proud to partner with the Altoona Water Authority to design and implement these innovative biosolids and organic waste solutions,” said Lawrence Roth, ESG Senior Vice President of Sustainable Infrastructure and Operations Services. “We commend the AWA for their leadership and commitment to promoting sustainability, economic growth, and efficiency.”