California WWTP to receive power from semi biogas-fuelled microgrid

A microgrid powered through biogas co-generation, solar power, and backup energy storage will supply electricity for a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Rialto, California.

The City of Rialto in California, Rialto Water Services and Veolia North America, announced their joint commitment to the next phase of the ‘ambitious’ microgrid plan.

One of the first of its kind in California, the project is hoped to bring the city greater energy independence, resilience, and efficiency to protect its essential wastewater treatment system.

“As California and the rest of the country contend with a growing number of natural disasters linked to climate change – including widespread power outages and brownouts caused by heatwaves and wildfires – the resilience offered by a microgrid power source is more important than ever,” said Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson.

“We recognise that the time has come to invest and think boldly and creatively in protecting our resources. This project represents a great step forward in the way municipalities like ours can take positive steps toward a more green future.”

Brian Clarke, president and CEO of Veolia North America, said the firm is “proud” to bring its expertise and resources to support the City of Rialto’s vision for greater energy independence. Veolia operates and maintains the WWTP on behalf of the city and its partner, Rialto Water Services.

“I commend everyone involved for their commitment to making this vision a reality for the people of Rialto and the community’s natural resources,” said Clarke.

“It’s this kind of forward-thinking that is putting Rialto in a position to meet the challenges that we all see coming down the road in the years ahead, both environmentally and economically.”

The microgrid project is expected to cost around $8 million (€6.69 million) completed in 2024, with no funding coming from increased taxes in the community. Instead, the funding will be absorbed by a ‘visionary’ concession arrangement, under which the WWTP is operated.

This 30-year public-private partnership was established to improve the operation of the city’s water and wastewater system and to raise significant capital from private equity partners and capital finance markets.

The microgrid project is expected to save the city an estimated $355,440 (€297,630) per year in energy costs, with an average return on investment in about eight years.

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