News Feature | March 12, 2019

Santa Fe First Ever To Finance Anaerobic Digester With Green Bonds

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

The City of Santa Fe has achieved a wastewater first, establishing a financing model that may offer a new revenue approach for other cities throughout the country.

“Santa Fe city government achieved several firsts on the financial front,” according to Albuquerque Journal. “It was the first city in New Mexico to sell green bonds, the first in the state to have bonds certified as green by an international bonding agency in London, and the first in the world to have the construction of an anaerobic digester financed by green bonds.”

The notion of a “green bond” may not be totally novel — they are revenue bonds that allow participants to invest in something that will finance an environmentally-friendly project. But offering a green bond to pay for a sustainable wastewater treatment project could be a totally new way for more of these projects to come forward.

“The $16.5 million in debt is for an eco-friendly wastewater treatment plant that will use the methane gas byproduct to generate electricity and heat,” per the Santa Fe New Mexican. “The first sale of green bonds in New Mexico was certified by the Climate Bond Initiative, an international nonprofit that promotes investments in projects to produce a low carbon and climate resilient economy.”

The green bond sale is part of a larger, 25-year sustainability plan in the works in Santa Fe. Mayor Alan Webber pointed out that energy savings achieved through the new digester could be equivalent to taking 743 passenger cars off the road or provide the energy used by 610 homes in a year.

Energy savings like that could make green-bond-based wastewater projects all the more popular in the near future.

“This is significant in the context of climate change, and what cities nationally and internationally are doing to achieve sustainability,” Webber said, according to the Journal.

To read more about how wastewater projects are financed, visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.