Hillsborough County and Covanta Hillsborough Inc., which operates the County’s Resource Recovery Facility, have received a top award from a statewide alliance committed to conserving Florida’s natural and economic resources.
Sustainable Florida presented a Best Practice Award to the County and Covanta in the category of Partnership during an awards ceremony held Sept. 13 in Palm Beach Gardens. The award recognizes a project that is holding down costs for Hillsborough County water and wastewater customers by turning ordinary household garbage into electricity savings.
Located on Falkenburg Road in Brandon, the Resource Recovery Facility burns approximately 1,400 tons of garbage a day, generating enough electricity to supply the power needs of 30,000 homes. In October 2009, the Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department connected its Falkenburg Road Wastewater Treatment Plant, Brandon Support Operations Complex, and the Woodberry master sewage lift station directly to the Resource Recovery Facility’s electrical generation system. In September 2011, the department’s Central Hillsborough Water Treatment Facility also was connected to the waste-to-energy facility under a project that was funded in part by a U.S. Department of Energy grant.
The water and wastewater utility pays the County’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund for the power it purchases. Because the direct-connection rate is significantly lower than the commercial rate it was paying, the Public Utilities Department is saving approximately $640,000 a year in electricity costs.
The independent, non-profit Sustainable Florida advances the vision of sustainability by identifying, supporting and communicating best management practices. Through its annual Best Practice Awards, the organization has honored more than 100 businesses, organizations, governmental agencies and individuals for projects that demonstrate accomplishments and leadership in integrating environmental, social and economic factors.
“On behalf of all Hillsborough County residents, we are honored to receive this recognition,” said Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan. “Clearly, when public and private organizations collaborate and create win-win situations, great results can happen.”