Energy & Sustainability Projects

To meet the goals of the Carbon Free Water by 2015 Program, the Sonoma County Water Agency has implemented several energy production, energy efficiency, and sustainability projects. Below is the list of projects completed and currently underway.

Community Choice Aggregation (Sonoma Clean Power)

On March 22, 2011, the Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors directed the Water Agency to investigate Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) while concurrently approving the Water Agency’s Energy Policy. Community Choice Aggregation allows one or more cities and/or counties to form a service area that provides for the purchase of power generation of customers within that service area. Transmission, distribution, customer service and billing remain the same, delivered through the existing utility (PG&E). Customers within this service area can opt out of participating in the CCA program and continue to receive their power generation services through the existing utility. For more information, the Community Choice Aggregation page.

 

Community Choice Aggregation

Wind Turbine - Geyserville Sanitation Zone

On Thursday January 3rd 2013, a wind turbine was erected at the Geyserville Sanitation Zone wastewater treatment plant. 

The purpose of this partially grant funded project is to develop and demonstrate a model for a locally owned, cost-effective, renewable energy portfolio that would help Sonoma County reach its greenhouse gas reduction goals and help the Water Agency reach its goal of delivering Carbon Free Water by 2015.

Learn more about the Geyserville Sanitation Zone Wind Turbine

 

Wind Turbine - Geyserville Sanitation Zone

Farms to Fuels

Originally, the Water Agency was exploring the use of cow manure to fuel the biodigester.  After further investigation, it was discovered that the local dairy farmers were processing manure into fertilizers for their farms. In addition, the operational and environmental cost of transporting the manure to central digester outweighed the benefits of the digester.  The Agency then focused on local chicken farmers who were transporting their chicken manure to local agricultural users as fertilizer. However, the chicken manure was still rich in digestible hydrocarbons.  The digestion process would break down the hydrocarbons, but not the elements that make the fertilizer valuable, i.e. nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. The digested manure would then be dried with the waste heat from the fuel cell and digester gas to make marketable fertilizer. Currently, the Agency is in the process of identifying a new partner to continue this important project. For more information, visit the Farms to Fuel Project page.

 

biodigester

Energy Efficiency Improvements

In the years following the purchase of the administration building, several projects have been implemented to reduce facility’s power requirements.  Energy efficiency improvements included window film application, lighting retrofits, and LED installation.  The window film saves energy by reducing the amount of heat transferred through the glass.  This means that less energy is used to regulate the internal climate of the facility, because there is less of an external influence.  The film application has a lifetime of 15 years and saves the Agency approximately 30,000 kWh annually.  Almost half of the lighting retrofits were paid for through the Association of Bay Area Governments.  The savings were achieved by pairing higher quality tubes with more efficient ballasts and eliminating unnecessary lights (aka delamping) in areas of low usage.  More than 600 fixtures were retrofitted and provides the Agency approximately 62,000 kWh in annual savings.  Each of the 16 LED tubes used to replace fluorescent tubes have lifetime of 50,000 hours, which last twice as long as the best fluorescent tubes in the market today.  The Agency saves approximately 300 kWh annually, assuming 40 hours of weekly operation for 52 weeks.

 

Energy Efficiency

Hybrid & Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Fleet

To reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from its transportation needs, the Agency purchased its first hybrid electric vehicle in 2006.  The vehicle was later converted into a plug-in vehicle by Hymotion in August 2008.  As of late 2009, the Agency’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle fleet has 32 vehicles.  Out of the Agency’s entire fleet of 147 vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids make up 22% of the fleet.  The Agency currently owns Toyota Prius Hybrids, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrids, Ford Escape Hybrids, a Honda Hybrid Civic and two ZAP trucks.  The Agency also has 13 charging stations between its administration building, its operations and maintenance center, and the Sonoma Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant. Additionally, 4 additional charging stations are planned for installation by the end of the year.

 

Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid vehicles

Photovoltaic Systems

The Agency has three photovoltaic systems that when combined generates 2 MW of solar electricity.  The administration building has a 0.5 MW system that has panels flush on the roof and panels on a carport-like structure in the parking lot.  The Airport Larkfield Wastewater Treatment Plant has a 0.5 MW fixed system that is ground mounted around the edge of one of the storage ponds. The Sonoma Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant has a 1.0 MW tracking system that is ground mounted in a field adjacent to a storage pond.  The Agency continues to investigate additional opportunities for solar power generation. For more information, visit the Photovoltaic Systems page.

 

Photovoltaic Systems

Recycling Program

The Agency has an active recycling program at its administration building and its operations and maintenance center.  Paper, plastics, glass, and aluminum cans are all recycled with the help of designated bins in the kitchens, copy rooms, conference rooms, and cubicles.  Recycled paper is ordered for copiers and printers and recycled presentation materials are used whenever possible.  The Agency also participates in recycling ink cartridges from its printers.  Opportunities to recycle e-waste are also available and bins are provided on site for Agency employees annually.

 

Recycling Program

Sonoma County Local Government Electric Vehicle Partnership

The Agency is working with the 9 cities, County of Sonoma, Northern Sonoma County Air Quality District, the Agricultural and Open Space District, and Sonoma County Transportation Authority to develop an infrastructure to support electric vehicles and bring 1,000 electric vehicles into the County through individual and local government fleet purchases.  While constantly working towards developing mass transit and walkable communities, Sonoma County is largely built out in a single passenger vehicle, suburban footprint. Electric vehicles are a very practical approach to reducing carbon-based transportation in our County. To find out more information about this partnership, visit the Sonoma County Local Government Electric Vehicle Partnership page.

 

Sonoma County Local Government Electric Vehicle Partnership

Warm Springs Hydroelectric Dam

After the Warm Springs Dam was completed in 1984, a hydroelectric turbine was installed a few years later and has been producing electricity since the late 1980s.  This turbine is capable of generating 2.6 MW of electricity annually.  Since energy production is influenced by the flow of water through the dam, annual energy production is usually at about 1.3 MW.  Actual annual energy production from 2006 to 2008 was approximately 11,800 to 14,800 MWh.  The Agency collaborates with the Army Corps of Engineers in the operation of the hydroelectric dam.

Warm Springs Hydroelectric Dam

Water Education & Conservation Programs

The Agency has well-established water education and conservation programs. For more information about the Water Education program, click here.  For more information about the Water Conservation Program, click here.

 

Water Education Program