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The irony of St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy plant

council members, St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant, environment-friendly, Eckerd College, southwest wastewater treatment, sanitation vehicles, methane gas, electricity generation, power
The plant sets a classic example of a city project with an environment-friendly goal, and yet embraces energy conversion using methane gas

St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant for years considered to be an environmental project is now under construction.

The city began to explore the plant during the term of former Mayor Bill Foster. Being built in the southwest wastewater treatment facility near Eckerd College, the plant would convert methane gas from sewage into energy in an effort to power its electricity output and provide fuel for sanitation vehicles in the city.

Public works administrator Claude Tankersley said construction and engineering cost in addition to administrative fee drove the expense—and the plant will generate gas to meet 75% of its power needs. However, this point was corrected by his own staff that the plant will need to purchase gas to supply its own electricity.

In reference to the project update from Tankersley, a report on Tampa Bay Times reads “Will fuel consumption still go down by 1,600 gallons a day? “I do not know,” Tankersley said. Will the city still save US$30mn over 20 years? “I cannot say that.” (Although he did say it in 2016, during another project update for the council.) There’s simply no excuse for such substantial changes to be realized this far into such a costly project. Council member Ed Montanari summed up the outrage: “I wouldn’t have voted for this if I would have known that the savings weren’t going to materialize.”

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