NBC Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Initiatives

The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) is a non-profit public utility that owns and operates the two largest wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) in the State of Rhode Island: the Bucklin Point (BP) WWTF located in East Providence and the Field’s Point (FP) WWTF located in Providence. The NBC collects and treats wastewater and storm-water from 10 Rhode Island cities and towns, servicing 40% of the state’s population.

Wastewater treatment operations are very energy intensive and as energy costs continue to rise, particularly in the Northeastern U.S. where electricity prices are between 30 to 40 % higher than the national average, energy management is becoming an increasingly more critical operational issue. NBC’s FP WWTF, the largest in the State of Rhode Island and the second largest in New England, has a peak electrical power demand of 2.0 Megawatts and NBC’s BP WWTF, the second largest WWTF in Rhode Island, has a peak electrical power demand of 1.5 Megawatts. As such, NBC is one of the top 20 users of electricity in the State of Rhode Island.

In an effort to continuously improve upon energy use performance and to help establish a sustainable energy management plan for the future, the NBC secured a $35,000 EPA grant in October 2005 to conduct investigations into the potential use of available renewable energy resources at both the FP WWTF and BP WWTF. Based on the results of these preliminary investigations NBC applied for and received a $50,000 grant in March 2006 from the then Rhode Island Energy Office to initiate detailed studies into the technical and economic feasibility of using wind power at the FP WWTF and a bio-gas fueled Combined Heat and Power system at the BP WWTF. NBC’s Wind Energy Project and Biogas Combined Heat and Power Project are currently in the design phase and are scheduled to be operational in 2012.

In addition to its renewable energy initiatives NBC has made great strides toward more efficient use of energy through energy conservation practices, energy efficient equipment upgrades, and the monitoring and measuring of energy use performance. Due in part to these efforts NBC received $275,000 grant from EPA’s 2008 State Innovation Grant Program to work with all of Rhode Island’s 19 WWTFs to develop and implement a statewide WWTF Energy Focused Energy Management System (EF-EMS). An EF-EMS utilizes the well-established Plan-Do-Check-Act approach to identify energy efficiency opportunities, implement energy efficiency measures, and monitor and measure energy use performance.