The big news around here is, as Forbes Magazine so elegantly put it, Hot Poop. More specifically, what hot poop can do for energy costs. Last week, Mayor Nutter was joined by city, state and federal officials to cut the ribbon on a new geothermal project at PWD's Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant that uses heat from wastewater (sewage) to warm the facility's buildings. The city partnered with NovaThermal Energy, a Philadelphia-based company, to implement the geothermal heating system. The 1 million BTU/hour unit in the plant's basement (pictured below) can provide heat at approximately 50% of the current cost, which would save $216,000 over the next 15 years. 

A scatologically correct article in Thursday's Inquirer offered more details:

"Wastewater picks up heat from a number of sources, including dishwashers, showers, and industrial processes, said Jimmy W. Wang, NovaThermal’s chief engineer. There’s also the “biomatter” that still contains heat, Wang said during a visit to the project Wednesday, although he used more scatological terminology. During the winter, sewage is about 60 degrees, and in summer it can exceed 75 degrees. That’s plenty of energy that can be extracted through a conventional heat pump. Haider said the technology is more efficient and cost-effective than traditional geothermal systems, in which deep water wells are drilled into the bedrock to capture heat from the Earth."

For more info on the wastewater geothermal heating project, see the official press release.