Nestled in a wooded valley about 30 miles south of Cleveland, Ohio, the Hinckley Wastewater Treatment Plant provides a tranquil setting for ongoing sewage treatment. Originally constructed in 1976, the inconspicuous plant is set back from Ridge Road, processing an average of 1.7 million gallons of sewage per day. The facility is fed by 50 miles of sewer lines that come from the suburban communities of Brunswick, as well as parts of North Royalton, Strongsville and Broadview Heights.
“In keeping with the somewhat out-of-theway nature of our facility, we like to maintain a low profile,” said plant Superintendent Robert Elmerick, adding that he can’t recall an instance where sewage has backed up into the basements of the plant’s customers.
However, in spring 2016, the plant’s stellar performance history faced a serious threat during a 114-hour unscheduled power outage. On a Monday evening in March, the Hinckley facility lost incoming power from its utility provider, Ohio Edison. The power company disconnected the utility feed after 143 homes in the area lost power due to an unspecified mechanical problem. The power outage quickly became a non-issue because the Hinckley plant was prepared, having installed a 600 kW Cat C18 diesel generator set in October 2014 that is capable of providing more than enough power to the entire facility.
“The Cat generator automatically fired up, the switchgear switched power over and it ran for nearly five days,” Elmerick recalled. “Once they disconnected us, we ran the Cat generator for 114.2 hours until we could schedule electricians to come in and work on our high-voltage equipment and get it back up to snuff .” He continued, “And the generator performed great. All we had to do was add fuel to it, and it ran flawlessly. We never had to phase it; it ran smooth. We just had our fuel supplier come in once a day and fi ll up our tank.”
The Hinckley facility was proactive because it learned several years ago that Ohio Edison planned to remove one of the two utility feeds coming into the plant. Prior to the acquisition of the 600 kW Cat generator, the Hinckley plant had a trailer-mounted generator that was only large enough to run just one of the facility’s raw sewage pumps.
“We knew we had to institute some type of backup power system, so we talked with several generator companies,” Elmerick said. “We discussed what our power needs were with Mark Gibson at Ohio Cat, and he suggested we utilize a cooperative contract through the National Joint Powers Alliance.”
NJPA is a public service agency offering cooperative purchasing to more than 46,000 education, government and nonprofit members across the United States and Canada. NJPA establishes and provides competitively solicited contracts from industry-leading vendors. These cooperative contract opportunities off er both time and money savings for their users by consolidating the efforts of numerous individually prepared solicitations into one national, cooperatively shared process.
“Th e reason it made sense for us is that we didn’t have to go out for bid,” Elmerick said. “Th e contract was already done through NJPA. We spec’d out the Cat generator, and it gave us what we needed. By going with NJPA, it didn’t take us weeks to go through that process. It saved us time and gave us the equipment that we wanted.”
Th e C18 generator set has a 1,000-gallon diesel fuel tank mounted directly underneath the elevated generator enclosure. Running at full load, the genset should run for 24 hours before refueling is necessary. The generator only ran at 45 percent of its total capacity during the Hinckley power outage.
As part of routine testing, Hinckley facility personnel will run the genset under no load once a week for at least an hour. Once a month, staff transfers the generator load to run the plant anywhere from one to four hours. “We have a key that we can turn on the switchgear that will simulate a power outage,” Elmerick said. “We have a countdown of 15 seconds for our generator to fi re up, then it comes up to speed and the switchgear transfers the facility load to the C18.”
NJPA offers more than 250 contracted solutions for commodities, equipment and services. Th e government agency also offers more than 370 ezIQC construction contracts. Combined purchases through NJPA-awarded contracts will exceed $2 billion during the current fiscal year. Even though NJPA leverages most contracts nationally at the manufacturer level, members stay close to the action because local dealers deliver many of the contracted solutions.
“Our relationship with Ohio Cat has been great,” Elmerick added. “If I have any questions about our C18 generator, I just call up our sales rep and he always answers the question, or he will transfer me to someone who knows the answer. And, when we need parts, they have them ready for us that day or the next day. In hindsight, it’s clear that we made the right choice in purchasing the Cat genset, both from a standpoint of reliability and dealer support.”
To see the Cat C18 generator set in action at the Hinckley Wastewater Treatment Plant, check out this video online: http://njpa.co/CATgen.