Fredonia board OK’s $2.7M for plant

Several critical facility improvements will soon be coming to the Fredonia Wastewater Treatment Plant over the course of the next few years.

During its special meeting Tuesday, the Fredonia Village Board voted to approve an energy performance contract with Wendel Energy Services LLC, which gives the engineering firm the go-ahead to begin design of the specific plant upgrades.

“The way the energy efficiency contract works is the energy we save by upgrading motors and making things more efficient pays for the money it takes to do the process,” Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe said. “So, what Wendel does, is it does a contract with us over a period of years and the energy we save helps pay back the bond for the projects.”

According to Wendel’s audit findings, which were presented to the board in mid-May, the total project will cost roughly $2.7 million over the next 13 years. Once all measures are implemented, the village would accumulate over $200,000 per year in energy savings. This includes savings from electricity, operations, maintenance and fossil fuels.

“A lot of the equipment is getting older, so the new equipment will have to have less maintenance, so it will run a little more efficiently with the power,” Wastewater Plant Chief Operator Betsy Sly said.

“If we go forward with the projects that are selected, then (Wendel) does guarantee that these savings will be met, or else they’ll be responsible for the difference.”

Sly also affirmed Keefe’s point that the facility improvements will not incur costs upon taxpayers.

“Upgrades can be made within the savings,” she said. “You don’t have to lay out extra capital. The savings we will make will pay for the projects that will be selected, ultimately.”

The audit findings also stated that nearly 615,000 pounds of cardon dioxide will be eliminated from yearly emissions once all components of the project are implemented.

Changes to the wastewater facility will include upgrades to the return sludge pumps, the solids dewatering system, the aeration blower and the sludge thickening system. Improvements to lighting and heating equipment will also be part of the expected upgrades, as well as the automation of the dissolved oxygen control system and the replacement of bar screens, which remove large objects from the water.

“The bar screen is ancient and needs to be replaced as soon as possible,” Keefe said. “The engineers looked at it and asked, ‘How is this thing still operating?’ They’re going to move fast on that.”

Once all improvements have been installed, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will provide at least $71,000 in incentive grants for upgrading the facility to comply with greener standards. This will in turn help the village pay off the project in a shorter amount of time.

Construction is not expected to begin until next year, according to the village office.

“By the time they start actually constructing these projects probably won’t be until our next budget year,” Village Administrator Richard St. George said. “We’re telling them to go ahead, so now they’ll start designing and doing all the up-front work. The actual constructing won’t start until next spring or beyond.”

Keefe also said he was interested in looking at more ways to turn the wastewater plant eco-friendly once savings start accruing from the project.

“If Wendel sees there is potential savings above and beyond what has already been projected, that money can go into different types of things,” he said. “I’d like to look at solar, wind and hydropower at that plant also. We’re already getting methane, but I’d like us to use another green energy if they see an availability for it.”

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