Sep. 30—NORTH ANDOVER — State funding may not be a natural resource, like air and water, but it is almost as precious.
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides celebrated all of these elements on Friday in a visit to the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District plant in North Andover.
"Today I'm really pleased to announce that Mass DEP will be making available $5 million in new funding through its Gap Program to help utility companies adopt innovative clean energy and energy efficiency solutions like this project here at GLSD," she said.
Theoharides' visit coincided with the final day of Climate Week in Massachusetts. The wastewater treatment plant on Charles Street was chosen for her announcement because this facility has, over the years, dramatically increased its energy efficiency.
After building three tanks in the early 2000s that turn food waste into biogas, GLSD completed a fourth anaerobic "digester" in 2019 that makes the whole operation self-sufficient.
"We are now able to produce enough power, over 60,000 KWH per day, to cover the needs of the plant and our offsite pump station," said Cheri Cousens, executive director of the GLSD.
"The system also serves as backup power so that, if the power grid is off line, we can still function."
Jennifer Daloisio, interim CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, noted that the plant's ability to operate during a blackout means that it will discharge less untreated wastewater into the Merrimack River.
"A critical piece of infrastructure that can withstand a power outage is all the more important in the face of severe weather events, severe weather events that we've already seen are on the rise and are predicted to be more frequent due to climate change," she said.