Rhode Island wastewater treatment plants to use green technology to reap energy savings

Jan. 10, 2011
BOSTON, MA, Jan. 10, 2011 -- Wastwater treatment plants in Rhode Island that were irreparably damaged last spring during devastating floods, will be rebuilt with new treatment equipment to include state-of-the-art energy efficient and green technologies...

BOSTON, MA, Jan. 10, 2011 -- Senior federal and state elected and environmental officials announced efforts to rebuild Rhode Island water treatment plants that were irreparably damaged last spring during devastating floods, with new treatment equipment to include state-of-the-art energy efficient and green technologies.

EPA's New England regional office began providing technical assistance to waste water treatment facilities and pumping stations in Warwick, West Warwick and Cranston immediately after the spring floods inundated the facilities making them inoperable. Knowing that these facilities would have to be completely rebuilt and having created energy efficiency plans for the facilities before the flooding, EPA began collaborating with Rhode Island's Office of Energy Resources (RI OER) to explore how to fund the rebuilding of wastewater treatment facilities with energy efficient equipment.

RI OER quickly began working to find funding for these projects and is now providing $3.1 million to Rhode Island from the 2009 American Recovery and Restoration Act. Of these funds, $2 million will go to provide energy efficiency upgrades to the waste water treatment facilities affected by the natural disaster.

Additionally, National Grid, the electric utility provider for all Rhode Island waste water treatment plants, is providing $100,000 in technical assessments for energy efficient equipment at all of the 19 wastewater treatment plants in the state. RI OER will match funding for this effort with another $100,000 and will then follow up with $1 million to pay for the actual energy efficiency upgrades identified in the assessments.

The RI OER is also looking for ongoing revenue to fund additional projects. It is estimated that these energy efficiency projects could reduce the facilities energy costs by 30 percent annually, providing rate payers with a sound, long-term return on investment. Increasing energy efficiencies at waste water treatment plants will reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Climate models have predicted more frequent and damaging storms resulting from atmospheric changes stemming from increases in greenhouse gases.

"This is a worthwhile initiative for Rhode Island and I am excited to work to put this funding to use in a way that will benefit local communities and their rate-payers," said Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

"This is a smart investment in our state's water and sewer infrastructure that will improve water quality and reduce costs. Energy efficiency upgrades are expected to help this Warwick facility reduce energy use by up to 30%," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who noted that Rhode Island has received more than $135 million in federal funding so far to help the state recover from last spring's flood. "The floods last spring were devastating, but we will continue to rebuild and repair in a way that strengthens our community and ensures that we are better prepared going forward."

"Since the floods, Warwick, West Warwick, and Cranston have taken a challenging situation and turned it into an opportunity by rebuilding their facilities in a way that reduces energy use and lowers costs," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "The Recovery Act made possible these smart investments in local infrastructure, which will continue to pay dividends to these communities for years to come."

"Keeping our infrastructure updated and efficient is critical to provide the best service possible to the people of Warwick, and it also creates good jobs," said Congressman Jim Langevin. "I voted for the Recovery Act so communities like Warwick could make necessary upgrades to prevent problems that may arise during emergencies like last year's floods."

"I am very proud that EPA is able to assist these Rhode Island communities rebuild this critical infrastructure following the terrible floods last spring," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "By investing in improved energy efficiency at these plants now, thousands of Rhode Islanders will benefit by lowering the energy costs, reducing emissions and greenhouse gases for these facilities, helping our environment."

"Last year's historic floods were truly devastating, and it's great to see a silver lining come out of such a terrible situation. Today we see the federal, state and municipal agencies coming together to address a critical situation with our waste water treatment facilities. I commend the leadership, commitment and quick action -- and above all the vision and creativity -- this group has demonstrated," said R.I. Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "DEM is pleased to be part of an effort that turns last year's natural disaster into an opportunity to use stimulus funds to rebuild and improve our critical wastewater infrastructure, increasing their efficiency and improving our preparedness for future extreme weather events."

"Rhode Island is a national leader among states in pursuing energy efficiency. This is another instance of that commitment. It involves many parties: Cities and towns, wastewater treatment facilities, DEM, EPA, and National Grid. We in the Office of Energy Resources are pleased to be able to use ARRA funds to launch this important initiative. Our goals are two: to help people and institutions in Rhode Island realize their ambitions for making better use of energy resources and to create jobs," said Ken Payne, Administrator of the R.I. Office of Energy Resources.


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