New Jersey Sewage Treatment Plant To Trade Effluent for Energy

In an unusual deal, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority just launched a project to send effluent from wastewater treatment to a local power plant in exchange for electricity, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The agreement is expected to help the New Jersey facility become energy independent.

According to yesterday’s announcement, the CCMUA will send 1 million gallons of effluent to nearby Covanta Camden Energy Recovery Center every day. That wastewater will help cool the center’s energy-from-waste generation plant. In turn, the center will provide electricity for the plant.

“This project will not only help the environment and get the CCMUA off the grid, but it will also save about $600,000 in annual electricity costs,” Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash told the Inquirer on Thursday.

In addition, the community microgrid should reduce stress on the local aquifer system and protect the plant in case another hurricane hits the state’s shore. A plant in the northern part of the state knocked out during Hurricane Sandy sent billions of gallons of raw sewage into the river, undoing environmental progress made, CCMUA executive director Adam Kricun noted during the microgrid announcement.

Camden County, located in the southwestern part of the state, treats 58 million gallons of sewage daily at their plant for a population of about half a million, the CCMUA website says. The deal with Covanta is part of a larger plan to get the sewage treatment facility off the power grid. In addition to solar panels that have already been installed, the county plans to add $30 million biogas digesters, the Courier-Post reported.

A feasibility study for construction of the underground lines needed to deliver wastewater and power is set to be completed next year, the Inquirer reported. The community microgrid project received $150,000 in feasibility study funding from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in June. Kricun said publicly that he expects the new lines between the plants to go online in 2019.