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02-22-03: Sun to beam down power to Rockford plant
The Daily Standard
    ROCKFORD - Village officials are moving forward with a plan to use solar-powered aeration equipment at the wastewater plant.
    The town will spend about $84,000 on three SolarBees but officials expect to quickly recoup the costs through lower electricity costs to run the plant. A test period has shown the SolarBees produce comparable treatment results and have reduced electric costs by about $1,000 per month so far, Village Admin-istrator Jeff Long said.
    "I'm happy with it now, and I think it can get even better," Long said.
    A backup electric power system runs the equipment at night and costs about $5 per day per unit.
    The village has been leasing a couple of the units since October 2002. A third unit will now be added and rental fees will be applied to the purchase price.
    "It's a different kind of aeration than the mechanical process we use now. This is more of a pumping system," Long said.
    Two of  the units will be used in the wastewater plant's raw sewage lagoon while a single unit will aerate a second pond of treated waste. A third "polishing pond" does not require aeration.
    Village officials are hoping to finance the purchase interest-free. Village council members already approved a resolution to apply for about $168,000 from the Ohio Water Pollution Control Fund. The no-interest loan would be repaid over 10 years. The additional money would be used to help pay for an emergency replacement of a faulty sewer force main.
    But the tremendous savings through lower energy costs should meet or exceed the monthly loan payments, Long said.
    "Over the next 10 years, we'll replace the force main and improve our aeration at basically no cost to the village," Long said.
    Because the equipment costs more than $15,000, the village by law will have to seek bids. Long said, though he knows of no other comparable equipment available.
    SolarBee Circulators, Dickinson, N.D., specializes in the unique, floating circulation systems. Some SolarBee models can draw 10,000 gallons per hour, distributing it on the surface to constantly recirculate lagoons or reservoirs, information on the company's Web site says.
    The company cites energy savings as the top benefit but also claims the equipment can reduce odors and excessive sludge buildup and reduce levels of algae, ammonia or phosphorous in both freshwater reservoirs and lakes and wastewater treatment facilities.


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