Fort Worth waste treatment plant finds green way to save taxpayer money



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Posted on February 28, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 1 at 12:02 AM

FORT WORTH -- So you think your power bill stinks?

Consider this: Fort Worth's Village Creek waste treatment plant burns through about $6 million worth of electricity every year -- that is, if it had to buy all that off the grid.

It doesn't, thanks in large part to major improvements made in the last several months.

"This is saving us at least half of that power bill, and hopefully 75 percent in the near future," said water director Frank Crumb.

And it could get even better than that.

"Maybe someday, [we'll] sell power back to the grid," he said.

Radical improvements allow the plant to produce and capture much more methane to generate more power to run the plant.

Engineers say Village Creek produces about 1,500 standard cubic feet of gas per minute. It also buys methane from the nearby Arlington landfill.

Giant, 1,000-horsepower blowers push air through the plant basins to treat liquid waste. They suck up a lot of electricity. Village Creek is taking the old electric blowers offline one-by-one, and replacing them with steam turbines powered by another by-product: Heat.

It's all part of a $33 million package paid for with energy savings.

"There aren't too many facilities in the country, or maybe the world, that are doing the level of treatment and the cool things we're doing," said plant superintendent Jerry Pressley.

The project is expected to pay for itself in less than ten years. It's also expected to reduce the plant's carbon footprint, offsetting the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 357 cars.