West County Wastewater approves Phase Two of energy improvement project

May 2, 2023
Expected reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 93 percent and save more than $83 million over its lifetime, the energy improvement project will construct a solar system, microgrid, and more.

West County Wastewater (WCW), serving portions of Contra Costa County, California, has approved Phase Two of WCW’s comprehensive energy improvement project, according to a press release from ENGIE North America.

Phase Two initiates the addition of backup power to major energy facilities at WCW’s Water Quality and Resource Recovery Plant. ENGIE North America will be installing a battery energy storage system that will work in coordination with the cogeneration system, solar system and diesel generators.

The new microgrid will provide uninterrupted plant operations during weather or utility related outages, now commonplace in California. In 2022 alone, California led the United States with nearly one quarter of outages due to increasing temperatures, droughts, wildfires and a strained power grid. The additions to major facilities are a part of WCW’s 5-year strategic plan. The infrastructure project is expected reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 93 percent and save more than $83 million over its lifetime.

ENGIE and West County Wastewater are collaborating on what will be a best-practice water-energy nexus technology model for sustainable water treatment. Along with the new microgrid, the project includes construction of a solar system, upgrades to LED lighting, electric vehicle charging stations, and various wastewater treatment process improvements to generate electricity and produce Class A biosolids.

“The WCW infrastructure improvements expand resilience in the face of wildfire and weather events that necessitate utility-imposed, Public Safety Power Shutoffs,” said Andrew Clough, General Manager from WCW. “This is a long-term collaboration to meet our sustainability goals and support the surrounding community. Since 2022 we have worked closely with ENGIE to engage local community members, including college students, for an internship and community engagement programs. This initiative is designed to complement the energy project goals and continue to bring job opportunities and economic benefits to the City of Richmond.”

Construction for Phase One of the Clean & Green Project is underway. Since building began in 2022, construction is nearly 25 percent complete with significant energy and operational savings already recognized. In concert with ongoing program implementation milestones, the ongoing facility upgrades were recently celebrated by the WCW Board, staff and special guests at an official Clean & Green groundbreaking ceremony on April 27, 2023.