Fort Wayne City Utilities lauded for its poo-to-power efforts to save $1.2 million

Doug Fasick, City Utilities’ senior program manager for energy engineering and sustainability services, shows a boiler that’s used to convert methane into heat for the sewer treatment plant. The utility since has converted the gas into electricity. (File photo by Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

Fort Wayne City Utilities has saved nearly $1.2 million in two years of converting methane gas from decomposing waste into electricity to power some of the Water Pollution Control Plant.

The effort has produced 18 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since late 2015. That accomplishment has earned City Utilities national recognition as a Utility of the Future Today in the category of Energy Generation & Recovery, according to a City Utilities news release Friday.

City Utilities is one of 32 utilities selected as a Utility of the Future Today.

The honor is given to “utilities that are transforming themselves from traditional wastewater treatment systems to resource recovery centers and are leaders in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve,” according to the release.

A consortium of water agencies sponsors the Utility of the Future Today award, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Water Research Foundation, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Proactive efforts that save money for ratepayers and protect the environment have a meaningful impact,” Mayor Tom Henry said in the release. “It’s critical to remain committed to sustainable initiatives that will pay off today and serve our community for generations to come.”

In October 2015, City Utilities began turning waste coming to the Water Pollution Control Plant, 2601 Dwenger Ave., into methane gas to power portions of the plant.

In 2016, it began taking the liquefied greasy orange sludge from Nestle USA’s plant in Anderson that’s created when it turns milk into coffee creamers. Previously, this waste material went to digesters at other facilities.

Additional sludge has come from Napoleon, Ohio, and Greensburg.

“This year we are exploring new partnerships with waste producers such as restaurants, hospitals, college campuses and food manufacturers,” said Kumar Menon, director of City Utilities, in the release. “We are in a position to take more waste and ultimately make the plant energy neutral.”

The practice has decreased waste going to the landfill and has protected the environment by reducing the amount of methane gas.


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