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Energy Savings for Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities Targeted
NYPA CEO Kessel Announces Statewide Initiative to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Save Taxpayer Money

Michael Saltzman

914-390-8181, 263-8504 (cell)

  Dan Aug, Off. of Suffolk County
  Executive Steve Levy
  (631) 885-0631 (cell)
  (631) 853-4018

Video from press conference

March 18, 2009


WEST BABYLON—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel was joined today by environmental, business and community leaders to announce a campaign to reduce by approximately 20 percent the energy demand of water supply and wastewater treatment plants in New York State by 2015 and help to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Electricity constitutes between 25 and 40 percent of the budget of a typical wastewater treatment plant and 80 percent of the cost of processing and distributing drinking water. To achieve energy savings at these facilities, NYPA will promote a combination of on-site solar electric power systems, biogas recovery to supply on-site power, and energy efficiency measures.

“In addition to lowering electric bills and saving taxpayer money, we’re helping to curb climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and enhance energy security through reduced dependence on foreign oil while reducing the need to build more power plants,” Kessel said. “At the same time, these investments advance Governor Paterson’s ‘45 by 15’ goal to meet 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy by 2015.  They also will spur the development of sustainable energy industries—‘green’ jobs for the state—which supports a fundamental goal of the stimulus plan Congress passed last month.”

Wednesday’s announcement was made at the Bergen Point Wastewater Treatment plant in West Babylon, where NYPA completed a more than $4 million energy efficiency project last month that will save Suffolk County an estimated $388,000 a year in energy costs.

“The energy-efficiency upgrade at Bergen Point crystallizes the benefits of clean energy technologies for wastewater treatment plants, which are among the most energy-intensive of industrial applications,” Kessel pointed out at a press conference with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and other officials.

Kessel noted that the energy-efficiency project at Bergen Point will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1,041 tons a year and displace more than 3,400 barrels of oil annually. That is in addition to the significant savings on the wastewater treatment facility’s electric bills, along with additional savings from reduced equipment maintenance costs. 

County Executive Levy said, “We are happy to work in partnership with the New York Power Authority and its team of energy efficiency experts.  The equipment improvements, from new fluorescent lighting to high efficiency motor upgrades, are lowering energy consumption, demand and costs while optimizing the various processes at the wastewater treatment facility, which serves a 57-square-mile area. The upgrades are also reducing greenhouse gases and other emissions, as we do our part for a healthy and clean environment.”

Levy said that operations and maintenance staff members at the county’s wastewater treatment plants constantly evaluate ways in which to save power and water. The staff members investigate emerging technologies, conduct pilot programs and incorporate successful new steps, including automation, chemical reduction, sludge de-watering improvements and aeration system power reduction into the treatment process.

In addition to the energy efficiency work at Bergen Point, NYPA has demonstrated its commitment to reducing the energy needs at various other wastewater treatment facilities. These initiatives include:

Completing a more than $2-million upgrade of the chiller plant at the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant, in Nassau County, for an estimated savings of $158,000 a year on the Seaford facility’s electric bills;

Completing a major overhaul of the boiler system at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant in upper Manhattan;

Undertaking a process-equipment upgrade at the Westchester County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Yonkers;

Installing a new heating system at the City of Rome Water Filtration Plant;

Installing eight fuel cells at four sewage treatment plants operated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and a single fuel cell unit and solar-power photovoltaic system at the Westchester wastewater plant; and

Installing two waste-gas-burning microturbines at a wastewater treatment facility in the Town of Lewiston in Niagara County.

The fuel cells rely on a chemical process instead of combustion to produce electricity while capitalizing on what essentially amounts to a free source of fuel—the waste gas that would otherwise be flared to the environment.  

“This is the type of synergy that we’re hoping to duplicate at other wastewater treatment facilities around the state as we work with towns and cities throughout the Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, Capital Region, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Finger Lakes and Western New York to identify those municipal water and wastewater systems that can benefit from NYPA investment and technical expertise over the next three years,” Kessel said. 

NYPA currently has energy services projects at wastewater treatment facilities underway in the counties of Bronx; Kings; Montgomery; Nassau, New York, Oneida, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk and Westchester.

For the Power Authority, the project at the Bergen Wastewater Treatment Facility was handled by Skip Hodge, conservation program engineer, of NYPA’s Energy Services and Technology business unit.

Beyond the initiatives at the wastewater treatment facilities, said Kessel, “We’re going to be reminding communities that a good option for conserving energy at wastewater treatment plants is through reduction in water use.  As less water flows into these plants, less volume is treated, resulting in reduced energy use.”

Reduced water use is something NYPA is putting into practice in its own operations. The Authority has cut the annual water use at its 17-story administrative office building in White Plains by 130,000 gallons through installation of reduced-flow bathroom faucets, low-flush toilets and other measures. And it is currently assessing opportunities for reducing water use at various other facilities that it operates around the state.  

These efforts are part of sustainability practices that resulted in the White Plains office building being certified in December 2006 by the U.S. Green Building Council in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program.


“At a time when we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our generation, clean energy and green technology can be the road that takes us towards a stronger, more prosperous Long Island,” said Senator Brian X. Foley, who serves on the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “Moving towards cleaner, smarter technology doesn’t only make sense economically, it also helps us be good stewards of our land and water, leaving our children an environment we can be proud of.”

"NYPA is perfectly suited to reduce energy usage and achieve wastewater improvements through renewables such as solar, biogas and energy efficiency.  Smart Growth solutions must include innovative strategies for energy and wastewater, and we applaud NYPA and local and regional environmental organizations for making these projects work for Long Island and the State of New York," said Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island, a Smart Growth planning organization. 

“Saving energy saves water and saving water saves energy,” said Kyle Rabin, director of the Network for New Energy Choices.  “With dwindling water supplies, climate change, and the current economic crisis, sound policies that integrate the management of water and energy are critically important. Today, NYPA is taking a giant step in the right direction.”

“Cooperation and collaboration between the water and energy sectors is essential if we are going to meet our future water and energy needs in a sustainable manner,” said Jeanette Brown, vice president of the Water Environment Federation.  “NYPA's initiative is just the kind of leadership that generates innovative ideas that will help wastewater utilities in New York evolve from energy users into big players in conserving and, perhaps, someday supplying energy.”

“As we learn more and more about the energy cost of providing safe water, we have to begin developing new ways of collecting, distributing, and treating our water that are less energy intensive,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on freshwater sustainability.

 "A growing understanding of the interdependences between energy consumption and water management is emerging. For many municipalities, reducing energy and water consumption at wastewater treatment plants offers one of the greatest opportunities for reducing a municipality's carbon footprint and to protect our aquifers and save homeowners and businesses money," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Protecting water and energy resources is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. This program is one important way to meet this challenge.”

“Investing in energy efficiency always makes sense because it saves money and the environment, but when we invest in upgrades for municipal facilities it saves taxpayers' dollars, and that means that everybody benefits,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI), a not-for-profit organization advocating for clean and renewable energy practices. “We commend NYPA for implementing this much needed initiative in New York State and on Long Island.”


Replacement of incandescent and T-12 fluorescent lighting fixtures with new energy efficient T-8 fluorescent fixtures. 

Replacing standard-efficiency motors on a variety of mechanical equipment with premium-efficiency units.

Upgrade of the energy management system in various buildings to monitor and control heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems with computerized digital controls.

Replacement of compressed air equipment with energy efficient compressors having fewer moving parts, making them easier to maintain and operate. (The operation of compressed air equipment is typically one of the most energy intensive processes at wastewater treatment facilities.)

  About NYPA:

■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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