Albany County
1 Canal Road South | Albany, NY 12204
Phone: (518) 447-1611 | Fax: (518) 433-0369
Angelo Gaudio, Acting Executive Director

Albany County Sewer District to Cut Costs, Save Energy and Create Jobs by Recovering Waste Heat

Project Selected by NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation for Competitive Green Innovation Grant  

The Albany County Sewer District will soon be saving electricity, water and natural gas while reducing greenhouse gases with one of the most-advanced and innovative "green" projects ever constructed in upstate New York.

The turbogenerator works like a steam turbine to produce electricity. But instead of water, the turbogenerator uses flue gases from the combustion of sewage sludge to power an electric turbine.

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, a 40-ton turbogenerator was installed at the Sewer District's North Albany plant as part of an $8.5 million Waste Heat to Energy/Co-generation project. By converting sewage sludge into renewable energy, the enormous turbogenerator will cut the plant's electricity demands by nearly 70 percent and reduce its natural-gas heating bills by nearly a third. In all, the new system will save the Sewer District $480,000 annually through reduced energy bills, once the system is fully operational in early 2012.

It was one of 49 environmentally-friendly projects selected for funding by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) in a competition to spur innovative green technology in New York. Since 2009, EFC's Green Innovation Grants Program (GIGP) has selected $60 million in green projects ranging from green roofs and stormwater runoff to road systems and rainwater collectors.

"Albany County and the Albany County Sewer District competed against nearly 300 other green projects across New York State in order to win $5.869 million from the Green Innovation Grant Program," said EFC President and CEO Matthew J. Driscoll. "This unique system will undoubtedly lead to similar energy-savings projects across the state, which is a primary goal of New York's Green Innovation Grant Program."

County Executive Michael G. Breslin said, "This project is one of the success stories of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The construction and maintenance of this project are creating at least 90 jobs in addition to the tremendous environmental benefits and future savings that will come from this innovative waste heat to energy system."

"The new system will allow the Albany County Sewer District to accept additional bio-solids, providing more fuel to energy and creating more jobs through additional capital improvements," Breslin added. These improvements will include additional dewatering equipment upgrades and conveying modifications.

Richard J. Lyons, executive director of the Albany County Sewer District, said, "This project is in total concert with the County Executive's initiatives to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases. The project will provide long term environmental and economic benefits to the District's eight member communities, which serve a population of 200,000. The innovative aspects will also provide a platform for technology transfer to additional stakeholders in New York State."

Albany County's Waste Heat/Co-generation project will not only save money by creating renewable energy, this innovative project will also reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 1,500 tons per year and will reuse 50,000 gallons of water per day to cool this high-efficiency system.

(left to right) John Adair, Jr., chairman of the Sewer District Board of Commissioners, Rich Lyons, executive director of the Sewer District and County Executive Mike Breslin.

In addition to $5.869 million from EFC, the District received $2 million in funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) from a Combined Heat and Power Program Opportunity. The collaboration of EFC and NYSERDA funding on this project is in alignment with both agencies sustainability and green initiatives.

The turbogenerator (manufactured by Turboden, a division of Pratt & Whitney) works like a steam turbine to produce electricity. But instead of water, the turbogenerator uses flue gases from the combustion of sewage sludge to power an electric turbine. Water is then recycled through the system to cool the equipment and to create additional power in a process known as the Organic Rankine Cycle.

Work at the plant began in May 2010 and is expected to be substantially completed in early 2012. The turbogenerator was placed on the foundation using two, 90-ton cranes on Wednesday Sept. 21, 2011.

EFC created the Green Innovation Grant Program using federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. New York was the only state to apply its "green" dollars in this manner. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized this ground-breaking program by awarding EFC with its Pisces Award in 2009.

Green projects can improve stormwater management while also increasing property values, revitalizing communities, improving air quality, sequestering carbon and other greenhouse gases, creating green jobs, improving the walkability of communities, reducing the urban heat island effect, and providing natural habitats, to name a few. 

EFC is currently accepting applications for the next round of GIGP funding (GIGP 3) for applications for involving green stormwater projects. Traditional stormwater systems are already at or near capacity in most places and stormwater runoff can overwhelm existing systems, leading to pollution of waterways.

GIGP 3 will have $20 million available through Governor Cuomo's Consolidated Funding Application. The deadline for applications is October 31, 2011.  More information can be found at

Albany County ExecutiveDaniel P. McCoy