Utilities News

The City-County Utility Commission has approved a contract for disposing of pelletized biosolids from waste water plants while also generating an estimated $30,000 a year in revenue.

The commission approved Jan. 14 a three-year contract with PineGro Inc. of Blackstone, Va., under which PineGro will pay the commission $3 for every ton of pelletized biosolids produced by the biosolids thermal drying facility under construction at the Archie Elledge Wastewater Treatment Plant. The drying facility is scheduled to be completed by March 17, 2008, and will serve both the Archie Elledge and the Lower Muddy Creek Wastewater Treatment plants.

The facility takes wastewater sludge and dries it into pellets that are easier and less expensive to handle than other disposal methods, such as land application. The drying process will be fueled by methane gas produced by the plant’s anaerobic digesters. This methane replaces approximately 1,625 gallons of fossil fuel that would have to be burned each day to operate the dryer.

The commission expects the facility to produce about 9,000 tons of pelletized biosolids a year, which it will sell to PineGro. PineGro will market the pellets as a soil additive to timber farms.

Under the contract, PineGro will provide year-round marketing of pelletized biosolids for three years, with an option to renew the contract for two more years. PineGro currently markets pelletized biosolids for the town of Cary. The contract obligates PineGro to dispose of any pelletized biosolids that are not sold.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, the commission spent $820,000 to dispose of biosolids by either land application as a liquid or cake product to farmland or by hauling cake product to a landfill. With this new contract, the commission will avoid this cost and create a new revenue stream worth approximately $30,000 annually.

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