Member Highlight

Hawk Ridge Composting Facility - Casella Organics

January 2011

Managing Energy at Hawk Ridge Composting Facility

The Hawk Ridge Compost Facility in Unity, Maine, provides a solution for the management of wastewater solids, paper mill residuals, and other organics from scores of communities in Maine and adjacent states.  Engineered blends of residuals are treated in carefully controlled, enclosed composting process, producing uniform, highly-valued compost products. 

Over the past few years, the facility made significant improvements in their energy usage. When fuel prices skyrocketed in 2008, they chose to transition to grid electricity, rather than continuing to rely on an on-site diesel generator. With partial funding from Maine Made Incentives, the project's pay-back period was estimated to be 2-3 years, with an annual savings of $200,000 after that.

That was the start of a variety of energy efficiency efforts.  Led by facility manager George Belmont, they made these additional changes:
    – monitoring blower flow rates,
    – raising the scrubber temperature set point,
    – ordering replacement motors at premium efficiency,
    – combining compressed air systems, and
    – placing timers on all equipment block heaters.
In April 2010, they took advantage of the Efficiency Maine Business Program to replace all old lighting with new premium efficiency lighting. These changes allowed an added 13% reduction in the site's energy usage.

Most recently, HRCF has built a new office space with "all green" heating and cooling. The system uses geothermal heat to warm the building in the winter.   They are tying their maintenance shop into the same system, which, at today's propane prices, should save an additional $10,000 per year.

The staff couldn't be happier with the improvements.  They explain that, "Spending the time and money on these initiatives was not only the 'right' thing to do, it was also economically a good decision for our facility."