Landfill gas and geothermal energy will soon power a portion of the state's massive water pumping infrastructure.
The California Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday it has signed contracts to purchase 33 megawatts of electricity from the two source through 2016. The majority will come from The Geysers geothermal field near Middletown, Calif., operated by the Northern California Power Agency. The landfill gas energy supply comes from a gas-to-energy plant at Ox Mountain Landfill in Half Moon Bay.
DWR operates the State Water Project, one of the world's largest water delivery systems, which includes Oroville Dam and the California Aqueduct. It generates some of its own hydroelectric energy, but the system is a net consumer of energy, responsible for about 3 percent of all the energy demand in California.
DWR has relied for decades, in part, on coal-fueled energy generation. But state law requires the department to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This will be accomplished largely by cutting fossil fuels from its energy supply. Burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which has been shown to alter earth's climate patterns.
The latest purchases represent just a fraction of the State Water Project's energy needs. They are part of a larger strategy, formally released in June, to make the state's water infrastructure more climate friendly.
In June, DWR announced it will not renew a long-term contract next year at a coal-burning power plant in Nevada. And in August, it began buying electricity from Lodi Energy Center, a new natural-gas fired power plant, which burns a fossil fuel but is far cleaner than coal.
For more information on DWR's climate action plan, visit: http://www.water.ca.gov/climatechange/CAP.cfm
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