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POLLUTION PREVENTION THROUGH ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT A PUBLIC WASTEWATER/STORMWATER UTILITY

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Louisville & Jefferson County (KY) Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) is a nonprofit wastewater and stormwater management utility. MSD's energy management program realizes the usual benefits of pollution prevention (P2) programs: reduced environmental pollution, lowered operating costs and improved staff comfort/productivity. Energy efficiency (E2) has allowed MSD to treat significantly larger volumes of wastewater, from a growing customer base, to higher standards, yet stabilize energy costs.

Upgrading the lighting at 850,000 ft2 of facility space earned MSD the 1998 EPA Green Lights Partner of the Year Award for the public sector. MSD's Main Office, renovated in 1994, was one of 24 buildings in the US to be designated by the EPA as an Energy Star Showcase Building; that building now requires about 1/ft2/yr. Other projects addressed fuel conversions (at treatment plants, garages and shop facilities), shifts to time-of-day rates, more efficient electric motor purchases and alternative fuel vehicles.

These efforts have saved a total 3+ million ratepayer dollars! The rate of savings is currently 600,000+ annually, and grows each year as new projects are completed. The reduced energy use and fuel switching has reduced atmospheric emissions of CO2, SOx and NOx. Employees regularly volunteer testimonials of improved comfort. Because electricity in Kentucky is inexpensive (MSD generally pays 0.035–0.055 per kWh, including demand charges), project payback periods average just over three years.

Programmatic emphasis has shifted to focus on process energy – motors, blowers, pumps and compressors – and reducing tailpipe emissions through alternative vehicle fuels, an employee commute options (ECO) program and a policy to limit engine idling.

Whether utility managers are concerned about fiscal conservancy, pollution prevention or both, attention to E2 is a win-win opportunity that warrants their attention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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