Water utilities top on-site green power list

Sept. 1, 2009
The EPA recently released the list of its top 20 ‘Green Power Partnership’ members that generate the most green electricity on-site.

The EPA recently released the list of its top 20 ‘Green Power Partnership’ members that generate the most green electricity on-site. I’m happy to tell you that three of the top five partners are water/wastewater utilities.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program. Its goal is to encourage the use of renewable power resources — such solar, wind, biomass, and biogas — to offset the environmental strain of electric power. According to EPA, the Partnership comprises hundreds of organizations that are voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green energy every year.

Coming in at number two, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (Whittier, CA) produces a whopping 54% of its own green power. By converting biogas resources into energy, the utility both uses the power on-site and exports it into the local power grid. LACSD has been doing this since 1983, enabling conservation of resources and providing the facilities with power that’s independent of the local grid.

The City of San Diego, CA, comes in at number three. All told, the city produces 27% of its own green power. A gas utilization facility in the Point Loma Waste Water Treatment Plant (PLWWTP) is powered by methane gas and generates 4.57 MW of electricity. PLWWTP’s hydroelectric facility produces another 1.35 MW of power from the 100-foot drop of treated sewage flow exiting the plant on its way to the ocean.

But that’s not all: methane gas produced by a set of digesters at the Metro Biosolids Center (MBC) and landfill gas from a nearby landfill are captured and converted to produce 6.4 MW of electricity; the North City Water Reclamation Plant produces 3.8 MW of energy from excess landfill gas; and a third-party partner produces power for the wastewater treatment operations and also sells excess electricity to the local utility. Each year, the City of San Diego generates more than 69 million kWh of renewable power.

The San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control department sits at number four on the list. Not too shabby! But in terms of its percentage of green power usage — it’s number one, with 56%.

All together, the top 20 partners on this particular list generate and consume more than 736 million kWh of on-site green power per year — enough to power more than 61,000 American homes.

What about in your municipality? Has your water/wastewater utility implemented — or is it planning to implement — any green power initiatives? Drop me a note at [email protected] and tell us about your project. And if you’d like more information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership, visit www.epa.gov/grnpower.

Angela Godwin
Editor, Water Utility Management

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