Santa Rosa wastewater plant to run greener, cheaper with microgrid

Wed, 2015-10-14 06:00 -- SCC Staff

The Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant provides treated and recycled water for around 230,000 customers in Santa Rosa, California and surrounding communities. While the plant generates some of its own electricity now, 70% of it comes from the electric grid at an annual cost of $3.5 million a year.

But that should change when a major upgrade is completed next year. Council Lead Partner Alstom Grid is working on a project to provide the wastewater plant with a microgrid that will add solar power, advanced distributed energy management software, a microgrid controller and smart inverter. Alstom Grid is working with project lead Trane, which won a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission. An additional $2 million will come from the project team. EV maker and energy storage company Tesla will provide an energy storage system for the project.

"A huge win"
The plant, managed by Santa Rosa Water, was selected by Trane from over 60 wastewater treatment plants in the state for the project. Santa Rosa Water Director David Guhin couldn't be more pleased. "Santa Rosa strives to find innovative and cost-effective solutions that improve energy efficiency, optimize energy production, and reduce gas emissions, making this project a huge win."

The project is expected to benefit the Laguna plant and the residents it serves in a number of ways. "We’re leveraging existing technology to support better regional energy management by making our operations more efficient and putting available energy back onto the grid for other consumers to use," said Michael Day, utility solutions vertical market leader for Trane in California, and the proposal's primary author. The plant will be able to switch back and forth between its own power and power from the grid to help balance the main grid's power during peak demand periods. Energy costs will be cut, too.

Another bonus is the city will be able to sell its unused power to the main grid and create a new revenue stream.

The Laguna project has generated plenty of optimism. As Guhin told the Press Democrat newspaper, "If this is successful, it will become a model for treatment plants all over the state."

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