Monday, December 05, 2011

The Water District reducing GHG emissions and California cap-and-trade

Today's Water District meeting featured an energy usage work study session.  We use a lot of energy moving water across much of the state and then treating it, about 5% of all our costs.  While we also have a policy saying we that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, our policy isn't very clear.  I pressed staff on this issue and another director, Linda Lezotte, also followed up:

(Arrgh, something won't let me post more than one video excerpt.  It's here at the December 5 2011 meeting at the 01:11:00 mark, for about 4 minutes.  Two of us seven directors say we need to do more than merely "cost-effective" efforts to reduce GHG emissions, the other five don't say anything.)

We're pretty good overall in our energy usage.  Maybe we can partner with Sonoma County to be better.
We're part of a joint powers authority for buying our power at a rate that's both cheaper and with lower carbon emissions than our local utility provides.  Our CO2 emissions are 435lbs/MWh, one-third the national average (see the first link, Attachment 4, p 17). Not the one-tenth that we need, but pretty good.

While California cap-and-trade doesn't apply directly to us, it does apply to the joint powers authority called PWRPA that we helped establish to get our power, and we may have a chance to sell carbon allowances from environmental improvements that we make (at 1:53:00, end of staff presentation):

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In addition to what you can see on the video is the 3 hours that we spent in closed (confidential) session to discuss internally the negotiations with labor unions for new contracts.  Obviously I can't talk about what happened then, but the financial issues highlight how important the economics of all this is. If doing the right thing environmentally can help us out financially, we're going to do more of the right thing, especially right now when finances are so tight.

12 comments:

very1silent said...

Are emissions from concrete and cement manufacture for the district significant? I know that some of the dams and creek linings maintained by the district include substantial amounts of concrete... Do you count this as a one-time cost at time of production or amortized over the life of structure?

David B. Benson said...

Brian --- While there certainly are obstacles, consider encouraging your power provider to build a nuclear power plant (NPP). A recent report recommended that California (consider) removing its prohibition on building new NPPs.

Brian said...

Very1 - that's a really good question. I was wondering about that myself, and didn't see anything in the materials. I will ask.

David - I'm more open than some folks to nuclear, but our power provider is us, together with other water districts, and no way in hell am I jumping into that mess. Also I suspect nukes are very expensive.

Coeruleus said...

How are microturbines viewed as a power source for the water treatment plants you manage?

http://microturbine.com/prodsol/solutions/rrbiogas.asp

David B. Benson said...

Brian --- Less expensive than the (low carbon) alternatives.

Dallas said...

Seems there was once a time that doing the right thing environmentally didn't require creative compensation through taxation.

How is your waste water utilization? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101093604.htm

Dallas said...

When we were looking into the new sewer system I found several interesting uses for final treatment and utilization of waste water.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0551e/t0551e06.htm

The University of Florida has quite a few options for storm water and waste water reclamation.

Brian said...

Coeruleus - I think we do get some landfill gas power. There's also this pretty cool solution - our high pressure pipes feed into low pressure pipes, and instead of simply bleeding of the pressure, the plan is to put in a turbine and get some power out of it.

Dallas - several percent of our water supply is recycled wastewater used in "purple pipes" mainly for landscaping. We hope to expand that to ten percent. It is kind of expensive and energy intensive though. We're considering indirect potable reuse through groundwater recharge, much like your second link.

There may have been a golden time where money wasn't at issue, but that's not what I'm seeing.

Brian said...

David - point me to some nuke power that's cheaper than what we're paying, and I'll buy it. My understanding is that our nukes are incredibly expensive.

David B. Benson said...

Brian --- I don't know what you are paying. VC Summer [now in pre-construction] has an LCOE of US$0.076/kWh. That's considerably less than the solar project prices in California and the AP-1000's power is available 24/7, about 50 weeks per year.

Brian said...

VC Summer is on the East Coast, David. We need to buy power from sellers in California. And no, we're not going to build a nuke power station ourselves, that's for the big boys to do.

owlbrudder said...

Just a comment on embedded content: this l'il bunny runs Linux with the Firefox 8 browser. Micro$oft Silverlight does not play well with Linux (not to mention to environmental pollution resulting from letting M$ software anywhere near my Linux boxen) and the Open Source alternative, Moonlight, does not play with Fx8. Sigh.