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Water and wastewater facilities are energy intensive. According to the EPA, these operations typically account for 35 percent of a municipality’s annual energy budget. The reason? Energy is required at all stages of the water treatment process. In water plants, 90% of the energy consumption is attributed to pumps. In wastewater plants, the aeration process requires the most energy.
Traditionally, municipalities have had few options in controlling energy costs. Fluctuations in electricity costs, seasonal or permanent, are either absorbed or passed on to customers, the latter not being a popular option.
There is light at the end of this tunnel for water and wastewater facilities: solar voltaic power. A growing number of municipal and private wastewater plants across the United States are converting to solar systems and enjoying the benefits. Here are five reasons why you should consider solar power for your community’s water and/or wastewater plant:
1) Solar power is consistently affordable power.
The right photovoltaic system has the potential to cut your plant’s electrical cost in half. And, you’ll no longer be subject to unanticipated rate hikes. It is important to get a thorough assessment of your current and projected energy usage as well as overall operational and financial goals before committing to a move to solar. Solential has worked with wastewater facilities throughout the Midwest. We start every project with a deep-dive analysis of your needs, which results in a solution custom to you.
2) Solar photovoltaic arrays are now cheaper to purchase and install.
Ten years ago, photovoltaic solar systems cost a pretty penny, a big reason why the federal and state governments offered significant incentive programs. In recent years, the cost of equipment has come down dramatically. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar equipment prices have dropped 89% since 2010 and are expected to drop another 34% by 2030. This is largely due to the growing shift to solar, better technology and the large volume of manufactured, the lower the cost. Bottom line—solar energy is now mainstream and prices reflect that.
3) Maintenance and monitoring can be outsourced so it’s literally plug and play.
Your expertise is water not solar energy systems. So you shouldn’t have to worry about managing your solar energy system. Some solar companies like Solential will partner with your municipality throughout the life of your system, providing operation and maintenance support services. Solential also offers a software-based monitoring service called SolView, for real-time performance monitoring. SolView is a customizable multi-level user interface you can use on your desktop or via an app on your smartphone to monitor real time and historical data on your plant’s energy performance.
4) Solar is green and green is good.
Solar power is clean, green electricity sourced from sunlight. There are no carbon emissions or greenhouse gases from solar-powered electricity. Your community will applaud your operation and leaders when you convert from fossil fuel-based electricity to renewable solar power. And that’s good for everyone!
5) Grants can help you pay for your system.
If you’re concerned about the upfront costs of solar, there are grants, tax incentives and other financing vehicles available. In Indiana for example, communities can take advantage of The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a good resource for low-to-moderate income communities to meet environmental regulations and/or reduce water utility rates. The state also offers a Wastewater State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) that provides low-interest loans for treatment improvements and upgrades. Solential can also help municipalities and wastewater facilities secure grants and loans. We’ve even developed our own energy-driven investment-banking platform that streamlines the process of identifying financing.
Is your municipality or wastewater operation interested in lowering energy costs with solar? Would you like to learn more on how best to put renewable energy to work for your community? Solential welcomes your questions. Simply connect with us here and we’ll start a conversation.
PS – We’re getting ready to announce many new wastewater facility solar projects. Stay tuned for details!