HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. and ISELIN, N.J., Oct. 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Representatives of the Village of Ridgewood, NJ, Natural Systems Utilities, Middlesex Water Company, and American Refining and Biochemical today celebrated a Grand Opening of the public-private partnership's renewable energy project at the Village's water pollution control plant. The project has been designed to power the plant by renewable energy, significantly reducing the demand on the electric grid benefiting the Village and its neighbor community, the Borough of Glen Rock. This landmark achievement results in utility cost savings and lowers the Village's carbon footprint.
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Over the past year, a biogas system, designed to optimize the production of electricity from methane, was constructed through a retrofit at the existing water pollution control plant. Natural Systems Utilities (NSU), Middlesex Water Company (MWC) and American Refining and Biochemical (ARB), through a 20-year partnership with the Village of Ridgewood, made the up-front capital investment in the retrofit that enables the plant, through a new biogas fueled engine generator, to use an anaerobic digestion process to convert methane gas to electricity. In addition, the production of electricity is enhanced when food wastes such as fats, oils and grease are introduced into the process. The heat required for the anaerobic digester is also generated by the biogas, further increasing plant efficiency and reducing emission of greenhouse gases. This biogas conversion facility now has the ability to capture the energy from methane gas that was previously flared into the atmosphere, and convert it into renewable power. The project also incorporates four solar installations located throughout the Village. Together, enough energy is generated to power the wastewater treatment plant.
"Our public private partnership with NSU, Middlesex and ARB makes Ridgewood a national leader in sustainable municipal wastewater treatment," said Village of Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn. "Producing energy at our facilities reduces cost while powering the facility with 100% renewable energy provides environmental benefits for the community. To be able to accomplish this at no capital cost to the taxpayer while realizing environmental benefits for the Village is something we can all take pride in," added Aronsohn.
The four solar generation facilities were constructed on several properties including Village Hall, the Fire Department, the EMS Building and the Water Pollution Control Facility and have been activated and producing electricity since February 2013. The biogas engine, the workhorse of the project, has undergone energy optimization testing and has since been successfully integrated into the wastewater treatment process. Facilities were designed and built by NSU, MWC and ARB under a joint venture known as Ridgewood Green, RME, LLC which owns the newly constructed additions. The facilities are being operated by Village employees in concert with Ridgewood Green RME.
In addition to cost savings from the utility bill, additional income was generated by selling all the renewable energy certificates (RECs) to 3Degrees, a leader in the renewable energy marketplace. RECs produced by the biogas technology at Ridgewood and the related solar projects have a relatively high value because of their unique characteristics, compared to other Green-e Certified National RECs. 3Degrees is purchasing Ridgewood's premium RECs and, in turn, supplying Ridgewood water pollution control plant with lower cost Green-e Certified National RECs, equivalent to 100% of the plant's energy needs, thereby ensuring the plant is powered with renewable energy, while maximizing the return on investment in the project. The sale of these RECs is part of the overall economic package that allows for the supply of lower cost electricity, ultimately benefiting Ridgewood utility customers.
"Many municipalities are struggling with aging infrastructure, underperforming utility facilities and severely constrained municipal budgets. This project demonstrates how partnerships with municipal and industrial leaders can achieve a lower carbon footprint while converting wastes to valuable resources for use in the local community. By repurposing an existing facility in this way, everyone benefits -- the environment, the Village residents and our renewable energy investors," said Dominic Kulik, CEO and Chairman, Natural Systems Utilities.
The public private partnership was recognized with an Environmental Achievement Award from PlanSmart NJ in November 2012 for its leadership in protecting, restoring and enhancing the quality of the environment. PlanSmart NJ is an independent non-profit planning and research organization committed to improving the quality of community life through the advancement of sound land use planning and regional cooperation.
"Optimizing energy production in this manner demonstrates the unique relationship between water, wastewater and renewable energy where the integration of these commodities has resulted in environmental and economic benefit for all parties," said Dennis Doll, Middlesex Water President and CEO. "In addition to helping the Village realize cost savings, the project is improving air quality and lowering energy costs, truly helping the Village to become more sustainable," added Doll.
NSU, MWC and ARB worked with several key partners on various components of the project including Bio-Organic Catalyst, Inc., HDR-HydroQual Engineers and Advanced Solar Products. Bio-Organic Catalyst, Inc., (partner with NSU) provides optimization of the anaerobic digestion process with addition of an enzyme product which increases biogas production. HDR-HydroQual Engineers provided engineering design services and construction assistance for the project. Advanced Solar Products provided turn-key installation of the solar panels at the four Village locations.
About Natural Systems Utilities
Natural Systems Utilities has pioneered sustainable water and energy-centric solutions for municipal, industrial and institutional clients for 29 years. Visit www.naturalsystemsutilities.com for additional information.
About Middlesex Water Company (Nasdaq:MSEX)
Middlesex Water Company, organized in 1897, provides regulated and unregulated water and wastewater utility services primarily in New Jersey and Delaware through various subsidiary companies. For information about Middlesex Water Company, visit www.middlesexwater.com.
About American Refining and Biochemical
American Refining and Biochemical is an investment company that holds and manages a portfolio of private company, private equity fund and project equity investments. ARB invests in environmental and renewable energy opportunities that are responding to and benefitting from the economic realities related to climate change.
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CONTACT: Christelle Bruneau, Manager of Sales & Marketing Natural Systems Utilities 2 Clerico Lane Hillsborough, NJ 08844 908-359-5501 email@example.com Bernadette Sohler, Vice President-Corporate Affairs Middlesex Water Company 1500 Ronson Road Iselin, NJ 08830 732-638-7549 firstname.lastname@example.org
Source:Middlesex Water Company