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Village Sustainable Energy Program Takes Off at Waste Treatment Plant

Ridgewood enters into agreement with private contractor to install solar panels at Water Pollution Control Facility

Hailed by local officials as a new model of private/public partnerships, the village has signed a 20-year agreement with two companies to create a joint venture that will manage the Ridgewood Water Pollution Control Center in Glen Rock.

Village officials and representatives of Natural Systems Utilities and Middlesex Water Company gathered Thursday in the cold to christen the creation of Ridgewood Green LLC. at the facility on Prospect St. in Glen Rock.

Included in the new partnership is the aim to add over 200 solar panels in the front lawn, which representatives say will considerably reduce the energy costs that now total about $250,000.

The panels will generate energy at 12 cents per kilowat hour with the village paying an additional 3 percent annual charge for the preceding 19 years of the agreement, Chris Rutishauser said Thursday.

The agreement helps Ridgewood plan long-term, knowing what its energy costs are, Rutishauser said, adding that PSE&G charges about 15 cents per hour so an immediate savings is realized.

The village engineer could not provide a figure as to what cost savings will be realized, mentioning that much of it depends on when the construction is completed and how much energy can be produced. "Hopefully that will be in the later part of 2012," he said of construction, also noting that because the village is buying the energy generated at a flat rate, it's in the vendor's best interest to produce as much as possible.

Also planned is utilizing company Bio-Organic Catalyst LLC to convert biogas (a gaseous fuel converted in this case by waste) into energy, which will also reduce odors and grease build-up at the plant. Less off-site trucking will be needed, according to Jay Johnstone, Executive VP of Bio-Organic Catalyst.

Renewable energy is expected to fully provide for all the electricity when complete.

"We commend the Village of Ridgewood officials for their foresight in implementing an environmentally progressive and economically self-sufficient initiative," said Dennis Doll, Middlesex Water Company President and CEO. "This business model capitalizes on the inherent relationship between water, wastewater and renewable energy and provides for an appropriate sharing of environmental and economic value for the benefit of all parties."

Mayor Keith Killion said the village is impressed by the potential of the facility and has every intention of showing it off to others.

"If other towns want to see what we're doing here, the village will absolutely be happy to use the plant as a showcase," he said.

Added Doll, "This is a really good model of a public-private partnership."

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