Mayor Michael Nutter joined Center City-based thermal energy technology company NovaThermal Energy and the Philadelphia Water Department in the basement of the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant to cut the ribbon on newly installed commercial scale wastewater geothermal technology that can reportedly cut heating costs by 50 percent.
The trial of this new energy-saving heatpump is part of the Philadelphia Water Department’s participation in Greenworks Philadelphia, a citywide effort to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the country. The PWD’s pilot project marks the first time the technology has been demonstrated in the United States, according to a press release.
“I am proud to say that Philadelphia is taking another groundbreaking step in becoming the greenest city in America,” said Mayor Nutter in a release.
The technology, which was transferred to NovaThermal from China, is expected to save up to $18,100 annually and $216,600 in heating and cooling costs over the 15-year project. It is also projected to save the equivalent of 276,000 gallons of gas over the life of the project.
To be sure, cost-saving projections on new technologies are often a dubious science, particularly in the energy efficiency space. For example, when they first launched, the Nutter administration touted big savings for new, much ballyhooed Big Belly solar trash compactors in Center City when they launched, only to face claims two years ago from City Controller Alan Butkovitz that the benefit was exaggerated at best.
[Updated: Richard Kennelly, a spokesman from BigBelly, called that City Controller report misleading. “The best rebuttal to the controller’s report is that the city has in fact reduced collections — by about 85 percent, from from 17 times a week to 5 times week and are now collecting about twice per week — shifted 24 of 33 workers off trash collection in 2009 to staff a newly expanded recycling program, and invested in more BigBelly Solar stations in 2010 and 2011 bringing the total from about 500 to now about 1,000 stations city-wide,” he wrote Technically Philly.]
This new project, part of a mosty lauded shakeup at the city’s Water Department, is funded in part by the Obama administration’s stimulus act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), through the Greenworks Pilot Energy Technology (G-PET) Grant.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of SE Pennsylvania is contributing a grant to support the measurement and verification technical assistance of the project, according to a the release.
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