Pepco to build biogas fueled CHP plant at world’s largest advanced wastewater treatment facility

Source: Pepco Energy Services, Inc. 

DC Water’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant serves approximately 725 square miles of DC, Maryland and Virginia and has a capacity of 370 million gallons per day. Pepco Energy Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM) and a leader in energy savings performance contracting, and DC Water have signed an agreement for Pepco Energy Services to design, build and operate a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at DC Water’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWTP). The Blue Plains AWTP serves approximately 725 square miles of DC, Maryland and Virginia and has a capacity of 370 million gallons per day. The 153 acre plant is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the world. 

Pepco Energy Services will design and build the CHP project for $81 million, and it will be the first in North America to use biogas from an AWTP facility. The CHP project will produce at least 14 MW of electric power that will supply the Blue Plains facility with nearly 30 percent of the AWTP’s average power demand. This is equal to the electricity required to power more than 8,000 homes.

In addition to designing and building the CHP plant, Pepco Energy Services will provide on-site operations and maintenance services valued at more than $89 million over the 15-year contract term. The overall project is valued at approximately $170 million.

The new CHP plant will be an integral part of DC Water’s new thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion project, which will be the largest in the world. The thermal hydrolysis process uses high-pressure steam from the CHP plant to increase the rate of biogas production and neutralize contaminants in waste streams.

“This is the next step in closing our ecological loop,” said DC Water Board Chairman William M. Walker. “Blue Plains takes water from the region, cleanses it and puts it back in better condition than the waterway it came from. The investment in the digester takes the waste from that cleansing process and turns it into energy. We are already issuing billions of dollars in bonds to pay for federally-mandated environmental projects, so the Board did not take the decision lightly. But we voted unanimously to raise additional capital for the digester because it’s good for the environment, our business and our ratepayers.”

The CHP plant will also include three Solar Mercury 50 low-nitrogen oxide gas turbines, digester gas cleaning and compression equipment, heat recovery steam generators, duct burners, a backup boiler, electrical equipment needed to operate in parallel with the utility grid and ancillary systems, including water treatment and process control systems.

“This project is a major step forward in the way DC Water handles its solid wastes,” said John Huffman, President and CEO of Pepco Energy Services. “By recycling biogas, we will be able to create electricity and steam to help power the Blue Plains AWTP. This is an extremely efficient way to produce energy and we are excited to be a part of DC Water’s ground breaking AWTP project.”

Overall, the CHP facility will reduce DC Water’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40 percent, as well as reduce the risk of increased disposal costs and provide a hedge against increases in future power costs.

Construction will begin in August and is due to be completed in December 2014.

Pepco Energy Services has saved its clients more than $210 million in energy costs in the last decade and continues to help new customers find innovative ways to reduce their energy usage.

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