The city of San Luis Obispo says it has the opportunity to turn its water delivery system into a net-zero energy operation—and the City Council is willing to pay nearly $1 million to find out exactly how.
On April 3, the SLO City Council approved an $860,000 agreement with PG&E to conduct an audit of the city's water infrastructure that will evaluate potential projects to increase energy efficiency. SLO's water system accounts for more than one-third of the city's total energy consumption.
- Photo Courtesy Of Slo Utilities Department
- WATER UPGRADES The city of SLO is evaluating energy efficiency projects in its water system, including installing hydrogenation to the Lake Nacimiento water supply line.
Jason Meeks, the SLO water treatment plant operator, said a combination of efficiency projects like replacing the ozone disinfection system at the water treatment plant, and energy generating projects like adding hydrogenation on the Lake Nacimiento water line and solar panels at various water facilities, could bring the operation's net-energy usage down to zero.
Preliminary estimates are that the water division upgrades would cost between $15 million and $20 million.
City Council members expressed unanimous support for the investment and the venture's potential long-term returns. Climate action is one of SLO's "major city goals," and Mayor Heidi Harmon has pledged to move SLO toward net-zero emissions status.
"I'm so proud. This is really great," Harmon said.
Part of PG&E's Sustainable Solutions Turnkey Program, the audit will reportedly result in 30-percent design and an "in-depth evaluation of the implementation costs of the projects, including utility rebates and incentives, and potential energy savings," according to a city staff report.