Wastewater sludge, wood waste to fuel Georgia power plant

By Anna Austin
Posted October 13, 2009, at 4:28 p.m. CST

A $100 million project set to break ground next year in Valdosta, Ga., will utilize wastewater, wastewater sludge and wood waste in the operation of a 40-megawatt biomass power plant.

The Wiregrass Electric Generating Facility will be constructed by Wiregrass Power LLC, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Sterling Energy Assets, and will be built on 22 acres next to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Sludge that the city of Valdosta currently pays to be landfilled will be used as a feedstock at the power plant, as well as woody biomass from local sources.

About 750,000 gallons of reclaimed water from the Mud Creek plant, which has a daily capacity of 3.3 million gallons, will be used to cool the biomass plant boilers each day and will eliminate the need for an external water cooling source. Currently, after being treated the water is discharged into Mud Creek, a tributary of the Alapaha River.

Electricity produced at the plant, enough to power about 16,000 homes, will be sold to Georgia power utilities and sent through the grid via a transmission line adjacent to the project site.

Georgia is one of 16 states that does not have a renewable electricity portfolio, but it does have some incentives to utilize biomass resources. In 2006, the Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 1018 which provides a 100 percent sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of organic biomass materials utilized in the production of energy, electricity and steam for resale.

Groundbreaking for Wiregrass Power is scheduled for 2010, and the project should be complete in 2012, according to Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's office.

Beyond the Valdosta project, Georgia currently has several proposed biomass power plants across the state, which include the conversion of Southern Co.'s largest utilities provider Georgia Power's 164-megawatt coal-fired power Plant Mitchell Unit 3, located near Albany, Ga., to a 96-megawatt, 100-percent wood-fired biomass plant. For more information on that project, go to http://www.biomassmagazine.com/article.jsp?article_id=2466&q=Plant Mitchell. Oglethorpe Power Corp has proposed the building of three 100-megawatt biomass power plants. To read more about those projects, go to http://www.biomassmagazine.com/article.jsp?article_id=2670.