The city of Rialto, California, is working to design and install a microgrid powered through a combination of biogas cogeneration, solar power and backup battery storage which will supply electricity for the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The project will bring the city greater energy independence, resilience and efficiency, protecting the wastewater treatment system from outages and operational interruptions.
The city is working with Rialto Water Services and Veolia North America on the project. Veolia operates and maintains the treatment plant.
The microgrid project is expected to cost approximately $8 million once completed in 2024, with no funding coming from increased taxes in the community. It is expected to save the city about $350,000 per year in energy costs, with an expected return on investment in about eight years.
The funding will be absorbed by a concession arrangement under which the wastewater plant is operated. The 30-year public private partnership was established to improve operation of the City of Rialto’s water and wastewater system, and to raise capital from private equity partners and capital finance markets. The concession agreement’s initial funding allowed the city to invest in necessary capital improvements in the system while setting aside funding for deferred utility system lease payments and strategic reserve funds.
With most of those initial efforts now completed, the microgrid project represents the first of the next-generation projects supporting the city’s commitment to innovation and sustainability.
As California contends with the results of a growing number of natural disasters linked to climate change — including widespread power outages and brownouts caused by heat waves and wildfires — the resilience offered by a microgrid power source is more important than ever, points out Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson.
Once the new microgrid is in place, the plant will be less vulnerable to power outages that could cause the plant to shut down and lead to potential wastewater spills into nearby waterways.