EPA Has Funding Plus Advice for Water Treatment Plant Energy Audits, Solar Solutions

Clean water is something we take for granted in America. We expect the water in our homes, our local swimming and splash pools, and in other public places to be clean and healthy. However, a tremendous amount of energy and resources go into making water clean. No one understands this better than the wastewater treatment industry.

Today, a growing number of water treatment plants are considering moving to solar energy to secure enhanced energy resiliency, reduce energy overhead, ensure affordability for customers, and improve sustainability. The obvious question is: what’s it going to cost?

Solential is glad you asked. In general, the capital expenses associated with converting to solar energy are declining rapidly. Couple that with a reduction of 30% or more in monthly energy costs, and the return on investment for solar can be achieved in a decade or less. This is particularly true in states offering incentives and grants to water treatment plants to encourage adoption of renewable energy sources like solar.

Before jumping onto the solar energy bandwagon, it’s important to understand your plant’s energy requirements. Having this information in hand, along with projected growth in your service area, will help in planning and designing a solar system that will optimally power your facility. Solential can help you with an energy audit. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies also offer programs and grants (financing) for energy audits and renewable energy/solar development assistance for facilities in urban and rural areas. Take a look.

Funding for energy audits and energy development

  • U.S. Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now Program. This is an initiative to reduce industrial energy intensity. Companies can participate in no-cost energy assessments.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Renewable Energy for America Grant Program provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.
  • Rural Assistance Center Exit offers funding to help rural communities, including funds for energy audits and renewable energy.
  • EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF) are important sources of financing for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. SRF funds can be used to conduct energy audits and equipment upgrades to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use.

Funding for energy efficiency improvements

Many states have created incentives for renewable energy adoption among water treatment plants and other organizations. The EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds mentioned above also have funding for solar systems. Here is a link to a comprehensive database that includes state, local, utility, and federal incentives for renewable energy such as solar.

  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) Exit – A comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Wastewater and Water Utilities Energy Guidebook

Here’s another useful to help get your arms around your water treatment plant’s sustainable energy future. While it’s a little dated – originally published in 2008 – it contains foundational knowledge and recommendations that are timeless.

EPA’s Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (PDF)

When it comes to energy to power operations, water treatment plants are looking for three things: enhanced reliability, rate stability and sustainability. Solential has delivered all three to water treatment plants across the Midwest. Our focus is customizing a solar solution that works for your plant and community now and in the future and making it as affordable as possible. That includes conducting energy audits and identifying available grants, incentives and financing. If you’re considering solar energy for your water treatment plant, talk to me. Solential has the insight and relevant experience to simplify the process. Here’s how to reach me: cmiller@solential.com or 317-627-4530.