National Grid awards joint sewer plant $500,000

JOHNSTOWN – A $500,000 grant from utility company National Grid to the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility will help the plant handle a predicted 125 percent increase in gallons of wastewater discharge over the next five years from the expanding Greek-yogurt plant Fage.

National Grid said the grant is from its Renewable Energy and Economic Development Program.

Sewer plant Fiscal Officer Donna Renda announced the grant to the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board last week. She said the grant to improve power generation at the facility will be released to the sewage-treatment plant upon successful completion of the facility’s current 2013 upgrade project.

“That’s all part of the upgrade,” facility consultant George Bevington said. “It’s all being used to offset part of the $7-to-$8 million project.”

This is the second such upgrade the sewer plant has undergone since the Fage USA yogurt plant began operating at the Johnstown Industrial Park. Additional tanks, a third engine, storage vessels and a pipeline are involved in the upgrade.

The sewer plant has had to keep up with pretreatment of increasing quantities of byproducts from the yogurt-making process, particularly Fage – its number one commercial customer. Sewer officials have been successful in obtaining several grants in recent years during the upgrades.

“We keep putting in our applications,” Renda said Thursday.

In a news release from National Grid on Thursday, Director of Customer and Community Management Bill Flaherty stated: “National Grid was there to support Fage when they opened several years ago and we continue that support today with this grant.”

Part of the upgrade will involve a low-energy way to pretreat the influx of dairy waste from Fage.

The city of Johnstown has borrowed for the upgrade. The Common Council earlier this week agreed to have the city borrow $8 million to upgrade the facility so pretreatment of products from the local dairy industries, such as Fage and cheese manufacturer Euphrates Inc., can continue.

Expansion is underway at Fage USA at 1 Opportunity Drive. The first phase involves building milk-receiving areas with two bays and a new road around the building. The second phase will entail additions of laboratory and research areas inside the existing building. The third phase will include a 180,000-square-foot addition to the plant.

Discharges from Fage are expected to increase from about 127 million gallons of wastewater currently to 286 million gallons by 2017.

The sewer board also approved a $9,600 National Grid study in connection with the upgrade project. Wastewater Engineer Tyler Masick reported Syracuse engineering firm Barton & Loguidice has completed 75 percent of the design work for the upgrade project. The project is expected to go to bid in July, with bid openings in August.

Masick said the National Grid study is a required “interconnection” study in conjunction with the third cogeneration engine that will be part of the project.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at