Solar Wastewater Treatment to California

The Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region (SCOR) has announced that its wastewater treatment plant, now powered entirely by the public utility grid, will be converted to 80 percent solar energy, making it the first predominately solar wastewater treatment plant in the US.

Oroville, California – August 15, 2002 [] A 520 kW solar power system to be installed by Sun Power and Geothermal Energy of San Rafael, California will supply most of the plant’s electrical needs. The plant serves 15,000 families and numerous industries daily in the greater Oroville area north of Sacramento. The SCOR treatment plant treats approximately 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater annually. The power generated from the solar array will provide enough electricity to treat 80 percent of the wastewater. The plant’s pioneering solar array will save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in electrical costs and help avoid large rate hikes in the future. The 520 kW system, which will go on line in November, is also the largest dual-tilt solar photovoltaic (PV) array in the world and the fifth largest solar energy system in the U.S. SCOR will be the only wastewater treatment plant in the U.S. to be powered primarily by the sun, and will become a model for similar public utility projects across the country. The PV array will produce enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 200 average homes. The panels will be mounted in a 3-acre field next to the SCOR wastewater treatment plant on dual-tilt supports. With dual-tilt, a concept developed by Sun Power, photovoltaic panels are manually tilted up in the fall and down in the spring to maximize exposure to sunlight throughout the year for greater power-gathering efficiency. Over the last two years SCOR saw its energy costs skyrocket by 41 percent. Normally electric bill increases would be passed on to SCOR’s ratepayers in the form of higher sewer bills. Instead, costs to SCOR’s customers will be stabilized thanks to the solar facility. The wastewater plant runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has a critical need to gain control of ever-increasing electric energy costs. It was the consensus of the SCOR Board of Commissioners that SCOR will gain true independence from the grid during daylight hours with the solar power installation. The commissioners feel that it will provide the power needed to serve the community, without having to send a larger bill to the rate-paying customers. “The SCOR installation shows what solar is really capable of,” said Dan Thompson, founder and president of Sun Power and Geothermal Energy. “It can power a critical utility for an entire district, pay for itself in a few years, save money and do it cleanly.” In addition to SCOR, Sun Power’s governmental clients include the City of Vallejo Police headquarters, Vallejo, Calif. where they are installing a 31 kW system to be commissioned in August, 2002.
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