With closures of existing landfills on the horizon and waste management a continuing concern, Albany and Saratoga Counties have announced a multi-million dollar partnership to build a new biosolid waste facility.
The two counties have authorized the creation of an agreement for the construction, operation and governance of the Regional Biosolids Facility, a shared-services initiative that would recycle biosolids, which consist of sewer sludge and food waste, into methane gas. The counties would split the cost and use of the plant.
Dan Rourke, Executive Director of Saratoga County Sewer District No. 1, says the idea has been in the works for some time. "We were looking for something that was a little outside of the box that could cut costs, that could allow us to take advantage of some opportunities that are coming our way with legislation with regards to diverting organics from landfills. It felt like the timing was right. A project like this allows us to take advantage of economy to scale."
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided half of the funding for the initial feasibility study which determined the project could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefit both counties.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy sees the new facility as an avenue to slowing the flow of waste to landfills. "A lot of the waste we'll be able to turn that into energy which we'll be able to sell to the electrical companies to generate money. It's about being a greener county, greener environment, leaving the planet and our county in a better place than we've found it for the next generation. This project is the only one in upstate New York that I'm aware of in this magnitude of what we're gonna be sharing."
Though the project remains in the feasibility stage, Rourke shares potential cost savings. "Once hard design starts, we'll definitely have a better idea of what the capital expense is gonna be. But I would say, depending on the options, depending on what we wanna do with the biogas, if we wanna possibly partner with private entities, you know all this stuff is up in the air, but I would say somewhere in the range of 40 to 48 million. It depends on how the design comes out and what options we wanna take advantage of when we get an engineer on board."
Current project estimates suggest each county will save more than $20 million over the next 20 years through the agreement. Accortding to Rourke, "Design is gonna take about a year and construction is gonna be another year to 18 months after that. So that puts us at maybe early 2021, late 2020. That would be fast-paced. But that's what we're lookin' to do. We're lookin' to take advantage of what's out there now."
Final construction costs and timelines are to be determined through the bidding process. The target release date for design request for proposals is June 2018.