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Phila. Water Department’s Biogas Electric Plant Goes On Line

(One of four generators operating on methane generated by treated sewage by Philadelphia Water Department.  Credit: Paul Kurtz)

(One of four generators operating on methane generated by treated sewage by Philadelphia Water Department. Credit: Paul Kurtz)

Paul Kurtz Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a Philadelphia native who has been working as a reporter...
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By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Water Department is now using a natural  sewage waste treatment plant to generate electricity.

With the flip of a switch, four large generators came to life today.  The  Biogas Cogeneration facility is fueled by methane, the byproduct of what gathers at the end of the trail after millions of toilets are flushed each day.  Brown energy, if you will.

The   facility  is expected to generate 5.6 megawatts of power for the Northeast Water Pollution Control plant.  At the same time, Mayor Nutter says, it will reduce carbon emmissions by nearly 22,000 tons a year.

“That’s the equivalent of removing 4,833 cars off the roads or planting 5,390 acres of pine forest,” the mayor said.  “It’s also going to lower the city’s use of nonrenewable energy sources.  This, in turn, reduces our reliance on purchasing energy from commercial providers.”

The project comes two years after the water department took its first step toward getting off the grid by opening a solar panel system  at the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant.