California Water Agencies to Purchase Solar Systems

Up to 140 water agencies in California may purchase solar energy pumping systems to alleviate the current energy crisis in that state.

SACRAMENTO, California – The Association of California Water Agencies – Utility Service Agency (ACWA-USA) will help its members to purchase photovoltaic systems and microturbine generators from two companies. “The deals we’re announcing will go a long way toward insulating our member water agencies from the price and supply volatility that’s rocking California’s power market,” says president Ed Horton. “It will be part of a larger solution, not just for the current crisis but also in the long term.” The first deal allows member agencies to contract with Solar Depot to purchase PV units at a 30 percent discount off retail price. The units require 150 square feet per kilowatt installed, and will generate electricity for 14 cents per kWh with a lifespan of 20 years. The second deal for microturbines is with Harza Energy, which will supply 30 and 60 kW microturbines at a discount price of $22,000 to $26,000 per 30 kW unit. The capacity of the units falls below the size that requires local air board permits. Water pumping is the single most significant user of electricity in the state, using 5 percent of the state’s peak load and seven percent of the total electricity usage in California,” explains Horton. “Electricity costs compose between 20 and 80 percent of a water utility’s total operating budget.” “Energy is the greatest cost behind delivering clean, affordable water,” he says. “Fortunately, the deals announced today are innovative ways to continue doing that amid very uncertain circumstances. We anticipate great success with our members’ microturbine and photovoltaic programs.” ACWA’s 438 public agency members are responsible for 90 percent of the water delivered in California. ACWA-USA is a joint powers authority established in 1996 to pool water agency demands for utility services such as electricity and natural gas.