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OMWD Certifies Hydroelectric Turbines at David C. McCollom Water Treatment Plant

Encinitas, Calif. — Hydroelectric generators at Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s David C. McCollom Water Treatment Plant have qualified for the California Energy Commission’s Renewables Portfolio Standard Program and will now generate Renewable Energy Certificates that contribute to the state goal of achieving 60% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

The California Energy Commission’s RPS program was established in 2002 and was accelerated in 2018 by Senate Bill 100, which set a target of achieving 60% of retail sales of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The hydroelectric generators at OMWD’s water treatment plant have been in place since its startup in 2002, offsetting roughly half of the plant’s power demands and saving as much as $60,000 per month in energy costs.

By working proactively with its supplier, the Helix Water District ensures stable renewal energy prices for its ratepayers. Photo: Jeremy Bezanger/Unsplash.com

Stable Renewable Energy Prices Locked In by Helix Water District

Proactive efforts by the Helix Water District have saved thousands of dollars per year in the district’s energy costs, and are helping it transition to renewable energy.

Helix buys most of its electricity through the State of California’s Direct Access Program and the electric service provider it contracts with, Calpine Energy Solutions. Helix has worked with Calpine since 2007 to manage the district’s energy costs and its move to renewable resources. It recently renewed its electricity-purchasing contract with the San Diego-based company that sells electricity. Helix relies on utilities like SDG&E, Southern California Edison, and PG&E to deliver it.

Helix negotiates contracts with Calpine that allow the district to lock in the price it pays for electricity. This limits the district’s exposure to events that cause energy costs to increase, like reduced hydropower production due to the drought, and higher natural gas prices due to the war in Ukraine.

Helix customers protected from market price increases

Calpine has also secured the renewable energy supply Helix needs through 2030. Calpine sources renewable energy from a portfolio of developers, including a new solar power facility in Riverside County. This will protect Helix and its customers over the next eight years, as market prices respond to increased demand and competition for renewable energy.

“For the last several years we’ve seen double-digit savings as high as 18% on electricity,” said Helix Assistant General Manager Brian Olney. “This year, with all that’s going on in the world and the market, we are doing very well for our customers.”

“We want stable prices for electricity because that helps stabilize water rates for our customers,” said Helix Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg. “And we want the district to do its part to meet statewide goals for the use of electricity from renewable resources.”

Energy efficiency helps reduce costs

Helix also reduces costs by improving energy efficiency. In 2011, the district installed solar panels on its operations center in El Cajon that generate 90-100% of the facility’s electricity. In 2012, they retained DHK Engineers to perform an energy audit of all of the district’s facilities and operations.

“Implementing the recommendations from the audit reduced our annual energy use by 11%,” Olney said.

The next step at Helix is transitioning into electric vehicles. The district began the transition in 2019, with a grant from SDG&E to install electric vehicle charging stations, and rebates from the State of California on six Toyota Prius.

“This year,” said Helix Operations Director Kevin Miller, “we are testing Ford’s new electric pickups. We like to see companies move in this direction because when they take a step forward, Helix Water District takes a step forward.”

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

City of San Diego Saves Nearly $300M for Ratepayers by Refinancing Pure Water Project

San Diego, Calif. – In an important cost-savings agreement, the City of San Diego has refinanced a loan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will save an estimated $293 million for taxpayers as the City’s Public Utilities Department embarks on the first phase of Pure Water San Diego – the largest infrastructure project in City history.

Water Districts Work Together to Save Ratepayers Money

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District and Vallecitos Water District have entered into an agreement that will allow for cooperative use of Vallecitos’ Double Peak Reservoir site in San Marcos. The arrangement is expected to save OMWD ratepayers over $100,000.