Now that the new award-winning Water Recycling Facility is up and running, the Ironhouse Sanitary District, as well as Oakley and Bethel Island wastewater ratepayers, are reaping the benefits of building a technologically advanced and energy-efficient facility. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) recently awarded the district more than $280,000 in rebates for building with energy efficiency.
PG&E’s Andrea Schumer recently brought a giant-size check to the district’s board meeting, as well as an official cashier’s check for $280,199.
“While your engineers designed the new plant, you collaborated with PG&E engineers to build an energy-efficient facility that far exceeded expectations,” Schumer said, adding that the district’s new facility would save 2,740,337 KW hours per year. This ongoing savings equals the equivalent of providing energy for 424 homes per year.
The energy savings was due in part to the use of technologically advanced turbo blowers new to the market at time of building. The efficient 200 and 300 horsepower high-speed turbo blowers are used to provide air for the membrane basins and the aeration basins, respectively, which are integral parts in treating the wastewater at the new facility.
“The original design went through several transitions over the years of planning, designing and building, as new technologies became available,” said District Engineer Jenny Skrel, who designed the Water Recycling Facility. “We took advantage of every cost-saving and energy-efficient development we could find.”
PG&E hopes to use Ironhouse’s facility as an example to others. “We’re talking about making it a case study for other wastewater facilities in the future,” Schumer said.
In other energy-savings news, Ironhouse Sanitary District is exploring the idea of bringing in solar energy to help offset annual energy costs by 50 percent each year. The district will be soliciting public opinion at two workshops at the end of this month to help plan for the future.
Essentially, solar energy harnesses sunlight through the use of solar panels. The panels generate a clean and renewable source of electricity. Solar energy has many advantages:
• Solar energy is renewable.
• The energy from the sun is free.
• Solar cells do not require much maintenance.
• Solar cells are quiet collectors.
• Solar panels are reliable, estimated to last more than 30 years.
“The district hopes to be proactive for the future,” said Ironhouse Sanitary District General Manager Tom Williams. “Our goal is to help shield ratepayers from future inevitable PG&E rate increases.”
Despite the savings from the energy-efficient turbo blowers, the district will still incur a $50,000 monthly PG&E bill. Estimates show that adding 1 mega-watt of solar panels could save the district more than $25,000 per month in energy costs.
The workshops will discuss the cost effectiveness of adding the solar panels, the length of time until the panels are added and the advantages and disadvantages. The district is asking ratepayers to attend the meetings and not only hear about the developing plan for continued energy savings at the new plant, but become a part of the process and have their voice heard.
A workshop will take place in Bethel Island on Monday, March 26 at 7 p.m. in the BIMID offices, 3085 Stone Road in Bethel Island; and in Oakley on Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the City of Oakley offices, 3231 Main St. Those who can’t make the meeting but want their comments heard may e-mail their comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.