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Seeking green from Uncle Sam

Manteca wants to turn sewer gas into electricity

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Seeking green from Uncle Sam

Federal money could help Manteca obtain a cogeneration plant to convert sewer methane gas into electricity.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED March 30, 2010 1:56 a.m.
Manteca’s leaders are making a pitch for Uncle Sam’s green dollars in a bid to keep a lid on future sewer costs for municipal ratepayers.

Councilman Steve DeBrum - who along with City Manager Steve Pinkerton and Public Works Director Mark Houghton - made the rounds in Washington, D.C., last week with the assistance of a lobbying firm retained by the city that helped open doors - made a pitch for federal dollars for a cogeneration plant to convert methane gas to electricity at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

If successful, Manteca would be able to turn the byproduct of treating wastewater - methane gas - into power to help supply a large chunk of the electricity used to operate the state-of-the-art treatment facility. It would reduce the annual $1.1 million PG&E bill for the plant by at least $400,000 if not more.

“They (the federal government) are really interested in green projects as well as anything that creates jobs,” DeBrum said.

The city also pitched the central sewer trunk line project south of the Highway 120 Bypass seeking $5 million for the $10 million price tag. They also lobbied for help with the new Austin Road interchange to serve the Austin Road Business Park where as many as 13,000 jobs could be created on 1,050 acres that would also yield more than 4,100 new housing units.

Other projects the city was able to get to present to key people who decide how money is spent include additional funds for police programs as well as money to help complete the section of Atherton Drive between Airport Way and Union Road.

Manteca already has received $900,000 in federal stimulus money to go toward completing the Atherton Drive segment from Main Street east to a point where it now ends near Wellington Avenue.

DeBrum said of the various pitches made the group got the most positive reactions were for the cogen plant and the police programs.

“If we don’t get funding this coming cycle we feel we have a good chance next year,” DeBrum said.

DeBrum along with Councilwoman Debby Moorhead will return to Washington, D.C., on April 17 as part of the One Voice trip involving San Joaquin County private and public sector leaders.

On the city’s wish list for that trip is help for interchange projects as well as the trunk line.

Moorhead, who also serves as the Manteca member on the Stockton Airport Commission, will be part of the pitch for an upgraded instrument landing system for the airport. Development of the airport just 10 miles north of Manteca has the potential of creating thousands upon thousands of jobs.
The lobbying trips are credited in the past decade with securing almost $57 million from the federal government for communities throughout the county. The One Voice was organized after local leaders were getting frustrated with unsuccessful efforts to obtain federal funds while many other areas – mostly back East and in larger metro areas – were receiving more tax dollars than were taken from their areas.

Manteca has landed more than $2 in federal funds from the One Voice effort over the years. The biggest was an initial $1 million grant for Give Every Child a Chance – the free community-based tutoring service – that has been followed up with $300,000 federal grants in subsequent years.

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