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City of Pasco and Burnham RNG to modernize wastewater treatment

City of Pasco and Burnham RNG to modernize wastewater treatment
An artist's rendering of the Pasco Resource Recovery Center (PRRC), an industrial wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) that is being built by Burnham RNG LLC under a public-private partnership with the City of Pasco in Washington State (image courtesy Burnham RNG).

In the United States (US), Burnham RNG LLC (Burnham), a wastewater and agricultural waste to renewable natural gas (RNG) provider has announced the issuance of green bonds to support the construction of the Pasco Resource Recovery Center (PRRC), an innovative industrial wastewater treatment facility that will clean wastewater for agricultural re-use and capture biogas and convert it into renewable natural gas (RNG).

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The bonds were issued by the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority and the private placement was led by Jefferies LLC. The bonds were issued a Baa3 rating by Moody’s and a Green Bond designation with an external review from Kestrel.

The project represents a 30-year public-private partnership (PPP) with the City of Pasco for Burnham RNG to build, own and operate the PRRC on behalf of the City.

The Pasco Resource Recovery Center is an example of how a public-private partnership structure can help municipal leaders navigate the complexities of the RNG world, manage risk, and capture the benefits without needing to invest in new commercial and operational capabilities, said Chris Tynan, CEO of Burnham RNG.

Offtake for RNG

The RNG will be sold under a long-term contract, allowing the City to reduce net treatment costs and take advantage of tax incentives currently available for RNG projects under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The center will support the growth of the City’s booming agribusiness sector while turning wastewater into clean energy and providing clean water and nutrients to irrigate and fertilize City-owned farmland.

The project is being constructed under an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract with Swinerton Builders, Inc., and will feature two Evoqua low-rate anaerobic digesters and an innovative nitrogen reduction system provided by Gross Wen Technologies.

The biogas, which is generated as a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process, will be upgraded to RNG (aka biomethane) and will be purchased by Cascade Natural Gas under a long-term contract. The RNG sale revenues will be allocated to offset the cost of the project.

The PRRC will enable the reuse of an estimated 1.5 billion (US) gallons (≈ 5.67 billion litres) of wastewater annually and is estimated to produce enough RNG to cover the annual gas consumption of over 4 500 average Washington State residential consumers.

At Burnham, we are focused on ending emissions from waste. Wastewater is a source of clean energy, clean water, and organic nutrients that can be captured and sold to reduce net wastewater treatment costs and improve environmental outcomes, Chris Tynan said.

Construction is underway

Burnham and Swinerton have already commenced construction and the project is scheduled to be completed in late 2024. Burnham worked closely with Sustainable Energy Ventures LLC, a Pacific Northwest-based project development company, on the project.

The construction expenditures for the PRRC are estimated to generate over US$200 million in economic output, support over 1 000 jobs, and pay approximately US$85 million in labor income across Washington state.

Further economic stimulation is expected from project construction outside of Pasco in the Tri-Cities and across the state. Once in operation, the project is expected to support approximately 25 jobs.

The PRRC represents a significant investment in the future prosperity and sustainability of our region. Not only will it give us the capacity to serve the growing needs of food processors through a state-of-the-art facility, but it will also be a boost for the community at large and pay significant dividends through job creation. The ability to create clean renewable gas helps to reduce the net cost of the necessary wastewater treatment and creates opportunities for future economic development by attracting businesses with carbon-conscious priorities, commented Steve Worley, Public Works Director at the City of Pasco.

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