California Water District Expects to Save $73M with Microgrid

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Microgrid controllers, natural gas gensets, solar and storage are expected to save $73 million when combined into a new clean-powered energy system at California’s Yucaipa Valley Regional Water Filtration Facility and the Wochholz Regional Water Recycling Facility.  

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The Yucaipa Valley Water District (YVWD) board of directors approved a contract with ENGIE North America to prioritize building the clean energy system at the water recycling facility. The upgrade will ensure backup power during outages at the two critical facilities.

The project includes 7.4 MW of solar power, a 3.3 MW/13 MWh energy storage system and 3.2-MW natural gas gensets and microgrid controllers. 

In addition to saving $73 million during the project’s lifetime, the district will receive nearly $7 million in incentives under California’s Self Generation Incentive Program. ENGIE North America will build, own and operate the system and sell energy and energy services through a 28-year power purchase agreement with a fixed price. 

“The YVWD depends on uninterrupted power 24/7 to conduct mission-critical operations. This project not only allows critical facilities to remain operational if there is a grid outage but also reduces our carbon footprint,” said Joseph Zoba, general manager at Yucaipa Valley Water District. “With so many challenging events facing our community including fire and drought, our district is at the forefront of proactive problem-solving. It is time for a more integrated approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the water-energy nexus. Maintaining the reliability and resilience of our energy and water systems is the key to long-term sustainability and our overall success.”

The Yucaipa Valley is an historically fire-prone region of Southern California, and the community has seen an increase in risk, managing fires nearly every two years.

The YVWD manages more than 220 miles of drinking water pipelines and provides a combination of water, sewer and recycled water connections to over 22,000 ratepayers in the Inland Empire. 

The district sees the program as a way to significantly improve its capacity to serve residents and keep rates stable while hedging against rising energy costs. The project meets the district’s long-term resiliency goals and ensures safe, reliable power to the district’s critical facilities during public safety power shutoff events.

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