Officials to vote on new waste facility

LAWRENCEVILLE -- With crews already working on a project to convert methane gas into energy at a local sewage treatment plant, officials will consider a move today that could double the amount of energy produced.

Water and Sewerage Authority members signed of on a $3.2 million contract to build a fats, oil and grease and high-strength waste receiving facility, which would allow restaurants to dump grease that can be turned into energy. Commissioners are expected to make the final decision at a meeting today.

The project, which will be funded by an Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant, is a complement to the gas to energy project that began last year at the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center in Buford.

There, officials plan to convert the natural byproduct of treatment -- methane -- using a massive generator. That project alone is expected to save about $400,000 in electricity bills each year, which is enough to power 1,394 homes.

The fats, oils and grease project has the potential to double that, reducing the plant's power use by 40 percent.

"It's a very cool project," Water and Sewerage Authority Chairman Michael Sullivan said. "That plant continues to be on the cutting edge."

According to the Department of Water Resources Richard Schoeck, restaurants and eating establishments are required to use grease traps to keep oils from getting into the sewer system. Currently, they must pay to have the byproducts trucked outside of the county for disposal.

The county plans to charge facilities for dumping their grease, but the fees will be determined on a case-by-case basis.