Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Energy Center & Biogas Plant Focus of EPA Tour

Austin Energy representatives describe Sand Hill's water reclamation system to EPA official Nancy Stoner (right).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official Nancy Stoner recently toured Austin Energy’s Sand Hill Energy Center and the biogas generator at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant to see how Austin’s utilities and businesses are using reclaimed water and energy sustainably.

Sand Hill uses treated wastewater from the nearby South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant - reducing by 80% (400 million gallons) the amount of potable City water required by the plant annually. The biogas generator utilizes methane from the sludge treatment process at Hornsby Bend to generate 700 kilowatts (kW) of renewable energy, more than the 500 kW needed to run the treatment plant.

The excess electricity produced and fed back into the electric grid enables Austin Water to receive a credit on its electric bill.

Austin Energy Sand Hill Energy Center, off Highway 71 East.


Once it arrives at the Energy Center, reclaimed water from the South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment plant goes through a filtering process called "floculation" that cleans the water.

Reclaimed water from the South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant combines with water from the nearby Colorado River to feed Sand Hill's cooling towers.

Sand Hill cooling towers.

The characteristic purple pipe means there is reclaimed water inside; blue pipe signifies river water. This is where reclaimed and river water combine to feed Sand Hill's cooling towers.

The entrance to Sand Hill Energy Center, off Highway 71 East, features the water cooling towers to the left, the Heat Recovery Steam Generator in the middle, and the plant's demineralized Water Tank on the right.

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