BALTIMORE - The city of Baltimore has signed a $14 million contract with Johnson Controls Inc. to build an energy generation facility fueled by methane gas and to update the existing facility with energy efficient technologies. The project is guaranteed to reduce the city's energy consumption at the plant and the city’s cost for electrical power.

“Each year, the city of Baltimore spends about $40 million on energy, including electric, steam, and natural gas,” said George L. Winfield, director of the Department of Public Works. “The city wants to reduce energy costs - whether by consuming less energy or by producing it more efficiently. This project does both.”

Currently, the process for wastewater treatment results in solids that are digested, producing methane gas, most of which is burned off with flares up to 20 feet in the air that are visible from the surrounding area. Johnson Controls' new cogeneration process will clean all of the methane gas burned on-site and use it, thus, reducing the need for flares. Some gas will be used in existing boilers and heaters, and the rest will run the generators that produce electricity. This process is expected to reduce the city's purchase of electrical power by $1.4 million annually and effectively use the methane gas.

Johnson Controls will also implement several other upgrades at the facility that will save an additional $400,000 in energy and operational costs, according to Joy Clarke-Holmes, Johnson Controls director of public sector markets.

“Lighting upgrades will reduce energy usage while improving the quality of light throughout the plant. Installing new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems at the administration, maintenance, and activated sludge buildings will reduce energy usage and operational costs, increase reliability, and improve the working environment. Facility management system enhancements will improve comfort and reliability while reducing energy and operational costs. An operations and maintenance support program will also provide day-to-day operational control of the cogeneration facilities, scheduled maintenance to keep systems in good operating condition, and fast, onsite emergency response service,” Clarke-Holmes said.

According to company officials, collectively the improvements save $1.8 million annually by providing renewable electricity to the city and capturing a waste stream for useful application.

Publication date:01/15/2007