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COURTESY: SKYSHOTS - In 2009, the Columbia River Wastewater Treatment Plant installed two 850-kilowatt engine-generators, which use about 40 percent of the plants biogas as fuel to generate electricity for the wastewater treatment process. More of Portland’s wastewater soon may be converted to compressed natural-gas vehicle fuel, which would reduce the use of diesel fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

This comes as the Portland City Council approved a contract for final design of a $10.9 million facility at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant in North Portland.

The Bureau of Environmental Services is exploring available grants and financial incentives to reduce project costs.

Currently at the treatment plant, solids removed in the the sewage treatment process are recyled into biosolids, a beneficial soil amendment.

The new project would involve constructing a biogas processing and storage facility and a vehicle fueling station at the plant.

That would allow the plant to re-use nearly all of the 600 million cubic feet of biogas it produces annually.

Once funded, construction could start early next year and the facility could be operational by 2017.

“Biogas is a sustainable, renewable energy source,” city Commissioner Nick Fish said in a statement. “This project will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money for our sewer ratepayers.”

The Treatment Plant has been moving toward 100 percent biogas reuse for years.

With even more biogas production, BES is considering selling it to a utility company, selling to area garbage haulers to fuel trucks, fueling city vehicles, or fueling trucks that haul biosolids for land application.

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