Burlingame to begin natural-gas energy program 

A wastewater treatment device that captures methane, a byproduct of treated waste, and produces renewable energy from methane gas is set to launch next week in the city’s facility on Airport Boulevard.

The so-called co-generation unit will save the treatment plant — where millions of gallons of the city’s waste is treated before flowing into the Bay — a considerable amount of money in electricity costs.

"Once that waste is treated, methane gas is created," said Syed Murtuza, assistant public works director. "This uses the methane gas and creates electricity. Instead of burning it, we reuse it."

It will generate about 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity, or 20 percent of the plant’s needs. While the project’s price tag was about $1 million, the city expects to see that money back by saving about $100,000 a year. The city also received a $160,000 rebate from PG&E, Murtuza said. It is expected to take about eight years for the savings to pay off the cost of the improvement.

The plant, which sits on a five-acre lot, is run through a corporate partnership with Veolia Water North America and has a staff of 13 people.

"The city is actually being pretty aggressive in renewable energy," Veolia’s marketing communications manager, Shilen Patel, said.

The plant treats an average of 4.5 million gallons of waste a day; that figure balloons to about 25 million gallons a day during the winter because of storms, Murtuza said.

Other improvements have been talked about for the plant, such as solar panels and a catch basin to contain excess storm runoff.

A co-generation unit kickoff party will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the facility, located at 1103 Airport Blvd.

bfoley@examiner.com

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