In 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated New York City and the Jersey Shore. But despite a storm surge more than 10 feet above normal, the Joint Meeting of Essex & Union Counties wastewater plant in Elizabeth, N.J., never shut down. Throughout the power outage the treatment facility operated on power produced by its onsite cogeneration facility. Cat® generator sets kept the facility going to treat all of the raw sewage that entered the facility.
In the mid 2000s, Joint Meeting was using utility power for the plant and experiencing issues. They required a more reliable source of power that could also keep up with New Jersey environmental regulations. Cogeneration systems, also known as combined heat and power (CHP) systems, provide a cost-effective method of reducing operating costs, increasing electrical reliability, and reducing greenhouse gases.
Joint Meeting worked with their local Cat® dealer, Foley Power Systems, to install four Cat G3516B gas generator sets. Three of the generator sets are in full operation and run on either piped natural gas or methane gas that comes from two large anaerobic digesters. The cogeneration plant produces 2.4MW of power, enough to provide 92% of the power required to run the wastewater plant portion of the facility, and 80% of the power for the entire facility.
When Sandy hit, the cogeneration facility kept Joint Meeting fully operational. According to Assistant Superintendent Francis Bonaccorso, “When everyone else was dark, we were light. We were able to do the jobs that others weren’t able to when the storm hit.”