ROANOKE, VA – The Western Virginia Water Authority (Authority) and Roanoke Gas Company (Roanoke Gas) entered into a cooperative agreement last year to produce commercial quality renewable natural gas, or RNG, from biogas produced at the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant. This RNG product, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth, necessitated construction of a digester gas conditioning system and interconnect facility at the Water Pollution Control Plant (WPC Plant). Representatives from the Authority, Roanoke Gas and the community will officially open this facility with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, May 25 at 2 pm at the Roanoke Regional WPC Plant.
Biogas, also known as digester gas in wastewater treatment, is a mixture of methane (63%) and carbon dioxide (37%), produced as a waste by-product of the anaerobic digestion treatment process as bacteria consume the organic solids that are removed earlier in the wastewater treatment process. A separate yet complimentary project undertaken by the Western Virginia Water Authority to rehabilitate and upgrade five of the primary anaerobic digesters will increase the volume of biogas that can be produced at the facility. That project is about 70% complete with several digesters rehabilitated and currently producing brown gas for delivery to the gas treatment system. When all digesters are complete the process will produce between 288,000 and 317,000 cubic feet of gas per day. At full buildout, the digesters will produce and the digester gas conditioning system will treat a biogas design flow of 550,000 cubic feet per day (cfd) to create commercial quality RNG. “The Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant has a history of improving our environment through advanced wastewater treatment and energy recovery. While this gas has been used as a fuel source within the facility over the years, the digester upgrade and gas conditioning project allows the broader community to benefit from this beneficial and renewable fuel source.” according to Michael McEvoy, Executive Director Western Virginia Water Authority. The digester gas conditioning system utilizes an advanced membrane separation system where raw digester gas is refined to commercial quality renewable natural gas for use within the greater Roanoke community, creating the potential for the protection of the environment and complete recycling of waste at a level only imagined a decade ago. This cooperative project is an example of another area for resource recovery realized within the wastewater treatment industry and will have far reaching benefits within our community and beyond. Renewable natural gas serves as a low-carbon replacement for fossil-derived natural gas and can be used as fuel source in our community or a transportation fuel in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG). The Western Virginia Water Authority and Roanoke Gas will share RIN credits related to the sale and use of this gas in vehicles.
Preparing the biogas to pipeline quality includes a pretreatment step which removes hydrogen sulfide, moisture, siloxanes, and VOCs. Then a membrane filter system removes the carbon dioxide (CO2) and helps polish the gas to commercial quality. In the design of this particular installation, a third stage of membranes, located inside the digester gas conditioning system, further treats all the produced tail gas and recovers residual methane. Compression is required to boost the digester gas to pipeline pressure at the interconnect facility located on the Water Pollution Control Plant property. Multiple treatment technologies were evaluated and the selected company, Unison Solutions, is a recognized industry leader in biogas treatment technology. Unison has a demonstrated history of success providing the treatment technology for similar gas treatment projects as this market emerges within the United States. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the Western Virginia Water Authority on such an impactful and needed project,” stated Paul Nester, president and CEO of Roanoke Gas Company. “Our shared desires to improve the environment, utilize the best technology and most importantly, serve this community, have spurred approximately $16.5 million dollars of combined investment and added a much needed source of safe, clean natural gas.” Roanoke Gas projects this new supply source will provide enough natural gas to heat 500 homes on a cold, winter day.
ABOUT THE WESTERN VIRGINIA WATER AUTHORITY
The Western Virginia Water Authority employs over 300 employees to provide drinking water for the City of Roanoke and the Counties of Roanoke, Franklin and Botetourt and the Towns of Boones Mill and Vinton. Sanitary wastewater service is provided for the greater Roanoke Valley. At the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant, an average of 37-million gallons of wastewater is treated daily from all jurisdictions in the Roanoke Valley. The Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) is an advanced treatment wastewater facility currently permitted to treat 55 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) of wastewater per day with an average daily flow of 37 MGD. Sanitary sewer from businesses and residences in the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, the Counties of Roanoke and Botetourt and the Town of Vinton are fully treated at this regional facility. The WPCP has a history of utilizing forward thinking approaches throughout the life of the facility, and was one of the first plants in the Country to attempt to beneficially utilize the digester gas produced in the solids treatment process. Additional information on the Authority is available on our website at www.westernvawater.org.
ABOUT ROANOKE GAS COMPANY
RGC Resources, Inc. provides energy and related products and services to 63,000 customers in Virginia through its operating subsidiaries Roanoke Gas Company and RGC Midstream, LLC. The statements in this release that are not historical facts constitute “forward-looking statements” made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve risks and uncertainties. In order to comply with the terms of the safe harbor, the Company notes that a variety of factors could cause the Company’s actual results and experience to differ materially from any expectations expressed in the Company’s forward-looking statements, including regarding customer growth, infrastructure investment and margins. These risks and uncertainties include gas prices and supply, geopolitical considerations and regulatory and legal challenges and those set forth in the Company’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2022. Forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current expectations only as of the date they are made. The Company assumes no duty to update these statements should expectations change or actual results differ from current expectations except as required by applicable laws and regulations. Past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. Additional information on Roanoke Gas Company can be found on their website at www.roanokegas.com.