Landfill gas and geothermal energy will soon power a share of the state's massive water pumping infrastructure.
The California Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday it has signed deals to buy 33 megawatts of energy from the two sources through 2016. The majority comes from The Geysers geothermal field near Middletown, operated by the Northern California Power Agency. The rest 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 hydroelectric energy but is a net consumer of energy, responsible for about 3 percent of all energy demand in California.
DWR has relied for decades, in part, on coal-fueled energy. But state law requires the department to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This will be done largely by cutting out fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which has been said to alter the climate.
The latest purchases meet a fraction of the DWR's energy needs but are part of a larger strategy to make the state's water system climate-friendly.
In 2013, DWR will not renew a long-term contract at a coal-fueled power plant in Nevada. And in August, it began buying electricity from Lodi Energy Center, a new natural-gas power plant that is far cleaner than coal. For information, go to http://ht.ly/eqMn3.
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