WSSC breaks ground on $262M waste-to-energy project

June 5, 2019
Piscataway Bioenergy Project will save customers more than $3M per year, highlights WSSC’s growing green energy portfolio.

LAUREL, MD, JUNE 5, 2019 -- WSSC General Manager and CEO Carla Reid joined U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, WSSC Commissioners and other officials recently to break ground on WSSC’s $262 million Piscataway Bioenergy Project located at the Piscataway Water Resource Recovery Facility in Accokeek, Prince George’s County. The innovative facility will turn sewage into renewable energy. It is WSSC’s most technically advanced project ever constructed in its 101-year history.

“Once fully online, the new WSSC Piscataway Bioenergy Project will demonstrate how strategic investments in our critical water treatment infrastructure can reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and costs to customers,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “In so doing, the project will illustrate how we can begin to confront climate change with innovation, proving that improving our resiliency can also strengthen our local economies.”

At the heart of the project is how WSSC handles biosolids – the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the wastewater treatment process. Currently, WSSC’s five major water resource recovery facilities produce about 8,000 tons of Class B biosolids each month. With the addition of the cutting-edge green technology at Piscataway’s new facility, the amount of biosolids left over from the treatment process will be significantly reduced. The cost to haul and dispose of the product also will be greatly reduced and the need to use lime to control odor will be eliminated.

The remaining biosolids will be significantly cleaner (Class A), making the disposal process much easier and allowing the final product to be sold and distributed as fertilizer. This new process will save WSSC customers more than $3 million per year by reducing WSSC’s operating costs.

“Today’s groundbreaking of the Piscataway Bioenergy Project stands as a prime example of our commitment to innovation and dedication to serve our customers with excellence for another 100 years,” said Reid. “This innovative project will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, protect the Chesapeake Bay and transform sewage into renewable natural gas to help run the plant.”

“The Piscataway Bioenergy Project is a big step in greening the economy, cleaning the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and combating climate change,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. 

As an added benefit of this project, the process to create Class A biosolids will generate renewable fuel to help run the plant. Methane gas will be produced, which will be captured and upgraded to natural gas quality to provide the Piscataway facility with a clean, green and reliable power source. 

“This project is a game-changer, utilizing cutting-edge thermal hydrolysis technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency and sustainability,” said Jay Fayette, PC Construction President and CEO. “A job of this size and complexity requires an exceptional team. As the project’s design-builder, PC Construction is pleased to have joined forces with Stantec, and Hazen and Sawyer to bring the best design and construction experience to realize the vision for this innovative project.”

PC Construction was awarded the design-build contract, which is expected to start in June. The entire project should be complete and operational in early 2024, weather permitting.

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