SLO wants to use the Nacimiento pipe­line to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity

The Tribune (SLO) - - Local - BY JOHN LINDT

The Cal­i­for­nia En­ergy Com­mis­sion is of­fer­ing the city of San Luis Obispo a $3 mil­lion loan to build a 261-kilo­watt so­lar pho­to­voltaic sys­tem as well as a 264-kilo­watt hy­dro­elec­tric gen­er­a­tion sys­tem — both lo­cated at the city water treat­ment plant on Sten­ner Creek Road be­hind Cal Poly.

By gen­er­at­ing its own power at the treat­ment fa­cil­ity, SLO could earn sav­ings of $266,863 an­nu­ally com­pared to its cur­rent power bill, ac­cord­ing to a com­mis­sion report.

Fur­ther­more the loan could be paid back in just over 11 years, while the fa­cil­ity gen­er­ates re­new­able power for many more years af­ter.

The En­ergy Com­mis­sion is ex­pected to ap­prove the loan May 15. The project will go to the San Luis Obispo coun­cil July 2 for ap­proval, Utilities Di­rec­tor Aaron Floyd said.

The hy­dro­elec­tric por­tion of the project taps water from Lake Nacimiento, 45 miles away, that comes to SLO by pipe­line.

The city wants to add an in­line tur­bine-gen­er­a­tor on the Nacimiento pipe­line that de­liv­ers an al­lo­ca­tion of 5,482 acrefeet of water a year to lo­cal taps. That would al­low the water — which falls from Cuesta Ridge to the city plant — to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity.

In 2017, the city spent more than $2 mil­lion on elec­tric­ity. For its part, the

Utilities De­part­ment spends ap­prox­i­mately $1.2 mil­lion each year for elec­tric­ity, with one of the largest users be­ing the Water Di­vi­sion.

The Water Di­vi­sion treats and de­liv­ers an av­er­age of 4.9 mil­lion gal­lons of water each day at an an­nual elec­tric­ity cost of $625,000.

The project is part of San Luis Obispo’s goal to be­come a “net-zero car­bon city.”

It will largely meet the goal to cut green­house gases at the util­ity di­vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to a 2018 report.


The staff report says that the re­duced en­ergy use cre­ated by the pro­posed ef­fi­cien­cies com­bined with the en­ergy gen­er­ated by the iden­ti­fied re­new­able en­ergy sys­tems will ex­ceed all of the city water util­ity’s cur­rent an­nual elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion by nearly 775,000 kWh or 24%, mean­ing that the water util­ity will be a net ex­porter of elec­tric­ity.

The water treat­ment plant is not to be con­fused with the city waste­water treat­ment plant at High­way 101 and Prado Road, it­self go­ing through a planned re­build­ing to in­clude re­new­able power.

Cour­tesy photo

A San Luis Obispo en­ergy project would use water from the Nacimiento pipe­line to gen­er­ate hy­dro­elec­tric power.

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