News Feature | November 6, 2017

Wastewater Facilities Make Solar Power Strides

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

Solar.Reg

Once considered a fanciful notion of the future, wastewater treatment plants around the country are now making solar powered operations a reality.

Two projects in particular, located in New Jersey and Georgia, demonstrate the tangible steps being taken to make treatment operations more sustainable, affordable, and efficient.

The first, in Caldwell, NJ, was developed out of concern over severe weather events.

“Officials … today cut the ribbon on a solar storage project that will help keep the borough’s wastewater treatment plant running during an extended power outage as a result of severe weather,” according to a press release for the project. “The Caldwell solar storage system is one of three similar projects … and the ribbon cutting comes nearly five years to the day that Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, causing extensive damage and outages.”

This solar storage system boasts 2,682 panels and has the capacity to power 165 homes a year.

Beyond introducing a cheaper and easier form of power for wastewater operations, a solar storage facility such as Caldwell’s can be an important safeguard as climate change brings more flooding and hurricanes to treatment facilities in vulnerable locations around the country. This solar storage project will allow the Caldwell plant to operate for as long as 10 days without outside power.

“I’d like to thank [Public Service Electric and Gas Company] for choosing the Caldwell wastewater treatment plant as the location for this valuable solar project, which will not only provide power to the grid on a daily basis, but will also keep our plant up-and-running in the event of an emergency,” Mayor Ann Dassing said, per the release.

And, in another example of solar ambitions becoming realities, the wastewater treatment plant in Lee County, GA, will soon be able to provide its own energy on site.

“City leaders plan on putting solar panels on eight acres right next to the plant,” per WFXL. “Lee County Utilities Authority said it will cut the utility bill by 57 percent. Saving this money can be invested back into the community.”

Authorities expect the solar project to dramatically reduce the operation’s $8,000 per month power bill.

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Image credit: "Solar power generation," minoru karamatsu, 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/