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THE POWER OF FOOD

Manteca food scraps may power plant

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THE POWER OF FOOD

What you toss into blue Toters won’t be the only thing Manteca will one day recycle. Wet garbage — food scraps — may be used to generate power.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED August 12, 2014 1:22 a.m.

The garbage you toss in the brown Manteca municipal Toters could one day help process what you send down the drain.

The city is exploring a plan to burn “wet garbage” to generate electricity.

Its part of a strategy to meet a state mandate by 2020 for all municipalities to divert 75 percent of the waste their residents and restaurants create from being buried in landfills. The diversion is determined not by volume but by weight. Currently the city must divert 50 percent of all waste. They do so by recycling items that are placed in blue Toters and sending yard waste placed in green Toters to a firm that converts it into mulch. Manteca leaders have indicated that a future consideration would be to have their own yard waste compost operation to generate mulch for municipal parks and other city uses.

Food scraps are considered the largest category of solid waste by weight.

The city is exploring recycling food scraps including fats, oils and grease to generate electricity.

Manteca has retained the services of Hewitt Engineering to develop a Municipal Solid Waste Management Program —a state mandate and a prerequisite to converting food scraps into power. The cost is $140,000 with 30 percent of the cost being covered by the sewer enterprise account and the remainder by the solid waste enterprise account. Both accounts are supported 100 percent by user fees the city charges for the services and do not involve any general fund money.

The power would be used to help run the wastewater treatment plant.

The city is moving forward with plans to build a one megawatt solar farm at the treatment plant as well.

The wastewater treatment plant process requires 1.2 megawatts of power. The solar system is being designed so that almost all of the treatment plant power can be generated on site with the exception of peak hours between noon and 4 p.m. Converting garage to electricity will help cover part of that peak load.

Manteca currently pays PG&E close to $1.5 million a year to power the wastewater treatment plant.

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