The San Diego County Water Authority has received a $1 million incentive from the California Public Utilities Commission to build and deploy intelligent energy storage that will save ratepayers money and stretch the energy output potential of solar panels already installed at the Water Authority’s Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant.
The energy storage project, through an agreement with Santa Clara-based Green Charge, is expected to save the Water Authority nearly $100,000 per year in energy costs by using industrial-sized batteries to maximize the value of energy generated at the treatment plant. Installing batteries will help the Water Authority store low-cost power – either excess solar energy or retail energy purchased during off-peak hours – for later use during high-demand periods.
The project builds upon other Water Authority achievements related to clean energy. The Water Authority already is reducing its costs and its impact on the environment through facilities generating power from solar energy. The Water Authority has installed more than 7,500 solar panels total at three facilities – the treatment plant, its headquarters in Kearny Mesa and its operations center in Escondido. These systems produce an estimated total of 2.7 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy annually, enough to reduce the agency’s energy expenses by nearly $5.6 million over 20 years.
“Thanks to this new incentive from the California Public Utilities Commission, we can stretch our energy savings even further,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “We’ll continue to explore innovative ways to make the most of our investments and save money to benefit ratepayers.”
The installation at the Twin Oaks site is expected to prove especially beneficial. An analysis of the Twin Oaks facility showed that the plant’s period of highest energy demand, the late afternoon, aligns with peak rates for purchased electricity. Energy storage with advanced control software will allow the Water Authority to smooth out spikes in demand by shifting draw from the grid to off-peak times.
To complete the project, the Water Authority has entered into a no-cost Power Efficiency Agreement with Green Charge to install a 1 megawatt/2 megawatt-hour energy storage system at the Twin Oaks plant. Green Charge will own, operate and maintain the system on Water Authority land for 10 years, after which the Water Authority can choose to extend the agreement, purchase the batteries, or have them removed and the site returned to its original condition.
The incentive, awarded under the California Public Utilities Commission’s Self Generation Incentive Program, allows ratepayers to avoid capital costs and safeguards them from storage system performance risks. The program, which was established in 2001 and incentivizes behind-the-meter energy storage systems and renewable energy generation projects to help reduce greenhouse gases, was recently authorized by the CPUC for expansion through 2019.
For more information on the Water Authority’s renewable energy initiatives, go to www.sdcwa.org/renewable-energy.