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Foul odor generates big bucks at Struthers treatment plant

Published: Sat, October 15, 2011 @ 12:02 a.m.


Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker fires up two methane generators at the city’s wastewater-treatment plant. The city cut the ribbon on the generators, which were built with federal stimulus funds, Friday morning. The generators run on methane gas.

By Jeanne Starmack



A celebratory mood enveloped the sewage treatment plant on Lowellville Road on Friday morning.

That wasn’t because the place smelled good. In fact it smelled horrible, but if the city and Mahoning County officials who were gathered there wished they could just get the heck out, they were too polite to say so.

Finding a bright side was John Pierko of the engineering firm MS Consultants. That smell, he pointed out, was really the smell of money — money being saved by the city and the county.

Methane gas, a byproduct of waste treatment that used to burn off in a giant flame at the plant, is now being captured and used to generate electricity there.

Two huge generators that run on the captured methane are operating and providing nearly half the kilowatts needed to run the plant, said its manager, Bob Gentile.

That means a big savings on the electric bill, which has fallen from $25,000 a month to between $13,000 and $14,000.

There is also a big savings on natural gas, because the plant uses less of it to run its treatment digesters. The heat from the two generators warms water in a loop system that heats the digesters, Gentile said. The gas bill fell recently from around $1,700 a month to around $500, he said.

The county, which absorbs 64.5 percent of the plant’s operating costs because the plant treats sewage from unincorporated areas, benefits along with the city, officials gathered there pointed out.

They were there to formally cut the ribbon on the generators, even though they are up and running. The ceremony was also a celebration of an accomplishment that snagged the entire cost of the generators, $5.4 million, from federal stimulus money that had been distributed by the states for environmentally “green” projects.

“Remember ‘shovel-ready’?” said Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker, referring to the catch phrase of two years ago that meant a community had a leg up on getting stimulus funds for projects.

“You had to be ready,” said Stocker, adding that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency gave the city guidance and a time frame. The city already had a five-year plan to replace the plant’s old generator.

Officials had to work fast, and the state, city and county did that, Stocker said. MS Consultants, the project engineers, worked quickly as well.

“In six weeks, the drawings were done and out to bid,” Pierko said.

Meanwhile, the city went from receiving an award of $1.5 million toward the generators and intending to pursue a low-interest loan for the rest of the funding to learning the state was giving it a full award.

“It’s one of the most successful collaborative projects I have worked on,” said county Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.

“This money came to the Mahoning Valley and will now save for the city and the county,” said state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-33rd of Canfield.


1georgejeanie(1496 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Brideguy, my thoughts exactly, see where this savings disappears to. Lets puty it in the bank and save it for a rainy day. Or after walking some of those Struthers sidealks they could replace them with the saved money. I feel sorry for any person that needs to use the siewalks in your city, especially the people with disabilities.

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2Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

From a taxpayers viewpoint, knowing full well that these generators are not "FREE", it will take about 35 years(excluding maintenance and repair costs) for this project to break even. Is there anyone out there that thinks these generators will last 35 years.
Anyone that has any dealings with these type of products knows full well that in fifteen years the company that made these generators will stop producing spare parts and a very short time after that they will stop all repairs on the parts. So after about twenty years these generators will need to be replace, causing in effect a net LOSS to the taxpayers. These are the cold hard realities of these feel good projects, we are wasting government tax monies an projects that in the long run after careful review are actually costing the taxpayers a good chunk of change, but the media will not do it due diligence and actually look at the nuts and bolts. Jeanne Starmack I would challenge you to do a follow up story on these points, I think that if you did you would see that this is in reality a bad deal for the taxpayers.But then again you work for the Vindy, and I am sure that the editors would not get out of bed with the local leaders long enough to give you the go ahead to print the truth.

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3Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

LOL you are clearly an IDIOT and have no critical reading skills and must not be very good at math either. These are not replacement generators, there never was any generators at that plant to begin with, so when you use the term "replacement" you are showing your stupidity.Now with your math, you need to understand that regardless of the source of the money, it is still money that we the taxpayers will have to come up with. By borrowing money from China, it is still money that will, in the end have to be payed back. Do you think the money we get from China is interest free?You can continue to live in your dream word wrapped in your blanket of stupidity, but those of us that live in the real world know full well that "manna from heaven" really comes from the taxpayers.

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4Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


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