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Cabarrus Co. treatment plant turns waste into energy

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TWC News: Cabarrus Co. treatment plant turns waste into energy
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CONCORD -- The Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant has a lot going on. In addition to treating waste from a number of cities, the plant is also preparing to enter the energy business.

"It proves that the water and sewer authority is thinking outside the box," said Mark Fowler, facilities director, Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County.

The plant is building a multi-million dollar facility that will turn waste into power. Right now the plant takes dirty water, cleans it, and releases it back into the water stream. A bi-product called "sludge" is left behind.

"We take our sludge and we process it, reduce the water content and then put it into our multi-hard furnace," said Van Rowell, on the water and sewer authority.

The furnace produces a substantial amount of heat and leaders said currently the heat is being wasted. However, a new $12 million facility will capture that heat and turn it into power for thousands of people.

"What we will be doing is taking that power and returning it to the power grid," said Rowell.

Leaders said the process will produce enough electricity to power about 1,400 homes a day.

"What we are doing now is providing another type of project where we can generate additional revenues that will hopefully reduce or eliminate future rate increases," said Fowler.

Leaders with the water and sewer authority said money from a reserve fund will pay for the project. Once complete, the facility will generate about $1.5 million annually paying for itself in a matter of years.

The Rocky River Plant is expected to begin producing power by spring 2014.

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