Manteca is currently shipping FOG — the acronym for fat, oil and grease — from restaurants and such to a recycler in Oakland.
But once the city’s facility designed to combine food waste with methane gas at the municipal wastewater treatment plant to generate fuel to power Manteca’s sold waste collection fleet is up and running, the FOG collection will stay local.
That’s just one of the green strategies that Manteca is pursuing in a dual effort to meet looming new state requirements aimed at not burying green waste at landfills and trying to keep the ongoing cost of municipal operations as low as possible.
Manteca Deputy Director of Public Works/Utilities John Clymo updated the Manteca Rotary during a meeting at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room on city progress of implementing its food waste program as well as adding a solar farm to reduce reliance on PG&E to operate the waste water treatment plant.
Clymo noted Manteca has “the ideal conditions” to implement a food to fuel program.
Not only is one of the few municipalities that still has control of their own garbage collection operation but the city opted during the last wastewater treatment plant upgrade to put in place the technology that ultimately will make the process work.
Clymo noted there is a good chance that other nearby jurisdictions such as Tracy may be sending their food waste to Manteca to meet the state mandate allowing the city to produce even more compressed natural gas.
The city is also pursuing a filling station at the wastewater treatment plant off West Yosemite Avenue where the general public may eventually be able to buy liquefied natural gas for their vehicles equipped to operate on it.
Manteca is currently collecting food waste from several schools, restaurants and food operations in and around Spreckels Park and other locales in Manteca. Eventually it will be collected citywide. Commercial accounts and schools are placing food waste in separate containers.
When food waste recycling comes about for residential collections, what is placed in brown Toters and dumped into trucks will be taken to the Lovelace Transfer Station where a machine will separate food waste from everything else. The food waste will then be taken to the wastewater treatment plant for conversion in to fuel.
Until the fuel conversion equipment is in place some 18 months to two years from now the food waste is being taken to Harvest Power in Lathrop for conversion into mulch.
Clymo said the city is looking at possibly creating its own compost operation. The mulch would be used at city parks among other uses.
Clymo also noted municipal staff is working on wrapping up environmental studies and other work needed to move forward in the coming months with building a one megawatt solar farm that will supply about a third of the electricity needed to operate the wastewater treatment plant. While some financial savings will be realized initially even with having to pay off loans to put the solar farm in place, ultimately it will cut at least $400,000 a year off the current PG&G build of over $1.2 million. It also means future PG&E rate increases will be dulled.
The 5.5 acre solar farm project is going on the northwest of the treatment plant property near where West Yosemite Avenue meets the Union Pacific railroad tracks by the ACE station along with the food waste conversion plant and an accompanying liquefied natural gas fueling station.
The solar project has an eight year payback while the life expectancy is 25 years. That means for 17 years the city will be getting free electricity to operate a third of the plant.
Electricity is the highest cost involved in running the wastewater treatment plant.