2016-08-18 / Around Town

Wastewater Plant to Be Solarized

By Barry Bridges

Although the Newport City Council’s meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10, was dominated by a proposal to purchase a new municipal fire and rescue boat, councilors also quickly approved a $1.86 million agreement with Newport Water Services LLC (AECOM Technical Services, Inc. and Suez Water, Inc.) for the design, installation and startup of solar panels at the water pollution control facility on JT Connell Highway.

According to a memo to councilors from City Manager Joseph Nicholson, the project will offset a portion of the plant’s power usage. The facility currently uses approximately 2.5 million kilowatt-hours annually, and it is estimated that the solar arrays will save 328,000 kwh per year.

Newport Director of Utilities Julia Forgue and City Manager Joseph Nicholson could not immediately advise councilors on how much money will be saved annually, but promised to report that information. “This is self-contained generation,” said Nicholson. “We’re not selling back to the grid; [the savings will come through] reducing our consumption.”

The solar work will be done in three phases to coordinate with other upgrades moving forward at the wastewater treatment plant. Phase 1 will see the construction of a solar carport and the placement of panels on the roof of the existing maintenance building; Phase 2 will install panels on the roofs of the existing solids processing and operations buildings; and Phase 3 will put ground-mounted panels in place.

Once complete, Newport will have the only wastewater treatment plant in Rhode Island utilizing solar energy. Supporting documentation specifies that the project is expected to be wrapped up by February of 2019.

Funding will be through a $1.2 million loan from the Efficient Buildings Fund administered by the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank and an $896,200 grant from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

In other matters:

.The contract for the 2016 Sidewalk Improvement Program went to the lowest of four bidders, LAL Construction Co., Inc., of Fall River, for a not-to-exceed price of $533,493. That figure includes the cost of police details. The work consists of a variety of sidewalk, crosswalk, and curbing improvements, and is expected to begin within two weeks. Unless there is an extension granted, construction is due to be completed by Nov. 20.

Included in this year’s program are concrete sidewalks on Memorial Boulevard from Freebody Street to Middleton Avenue; Spring Street from McAllister to Pope streets; Carroll Avenue from Morton to Bateman avenues; Harrison Avenue from Carroll to Roseneath avenues; Ochre Point Avenue from Narragansett to Ruggles avenues; and Marlborough Street from Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Boulevard to Thames Street.

.Councilors also unanimously approved an agreement with ENPRO Services of Franklin, Massachusetts, for a lead remediation project at the Lawton Valley water storage tank. At a contract price not to exceed $86,623, ENPRO will remove and dispose of lead-contaminated soil and will vacuum-extract paint chips from the site. The work is included in the current budget and will be paid through the Water Division Capital Improvements Plan.

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