Power Clean Water with Solar Is Solential’s Message for the IWEA Conference August 17-19

Next week, Solential Energy’s Jim Shaw and Mark Falahee will be heading to Fort Wayne to exhibit at the Indiana Water Environment Association – IWEA – annual meeting August 17-19 at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. Their message: Power clean water with solar.

It’s a message that should resonate with IWEA members whose mission it is to preserve and protect Indiana’s abundant waterways by educating members and the public about the importance of the state’s water environment. Most of IWEA’s members work in the wastewater and water treatment industry. The first discharges processed wastewater into waterways. The second pulls water out of Lake Michigan, rivers, and from underground and processes it for drinking. Both types of processing require a tremendous amount of energy.

Over the last 18 months, a time when energy prices have soared to new highs, the cost of processing water has risen exponentially. Unlike private companies, water utilities just can’t raise customer rates at will, and that’s stressing municipal and county budgets. What they can do is bring down their annual energy spend by generating solar power at their treatment plants.

“Solar arrays at water and wastewater utilities are a great way to reduce annual energy costs by as much as 50 percent,” says Jim Shaw, CEO of Solential. “We have done multiple solar projects for municipal water utilities, including two in Carmel, Indiana, that were commissioned last year. It was an easy decision; they anticipate saving $4.4 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.”

The City of Carmel was fortunate in that it had plenty of land adjacent to both water treatment facilities. This allowed them to install ground-mounted solar arrays without having the expense of acquiring additional land. Those with tight footprints have typically had to purchase more land – if it’s available.

Solential will be showcasing a new option for land-locked water and wastewater facilities: floatovoltaics, which are solar arrays that float on the surface of treatment lagoons and reservoirs. Shaw says Solential will be installing its first floatovoltaic array at a wastewater treatment plant in Illinois in early 2023. Another major floatovoltaic project is pending at a major municipal facility in northeastern Indiana.

“These cities and their treatment plant operators are very excited about their floatovoltaic projects because they are reaping the energy savings of solar without expanding their footprints,” Shaw explains. “Floating solar panels have other advantages. The water cools the solar panels, so they produce more energy. At the same time, the panels shade the water, which inhibits algae growth, a significant problem during summer months.”

He adds, “We expect floatovoltaics to be a big topic – along with energy cost savings – at the IWEA conference.”

For his part, Solential VP of Sales and Marketing Mark Falahee will be ready to explain financing. There is funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was passed during the pandemic. Now with new legislation, new funds are available for green energy development. Another option is financing through solar investors.

“In essence, the solar investor owns the solar array and through a Power Purchasing Agreement, sells the lower priced solar energy back to the utility at a guaranteed rate over 15 years. This is a very attractive option,” Mark says. “I’m ready to walk through all of the financing scenarios with folks at the show.

The theme of this year’s IWEA Annual Conference is  “50 Years of the Clean Water Act.” The association will be celebrating this amazing milestone, but also highlighting the people and processes that have led to monumental improvements in water quality around the nation. Since the act was passed in 1972, water quality has changed significantly thanks to improved engineering, ingenuity, technology, education, and advocacy from water sector professionals.

Says Jim, “We’re pleased to be part of the Clean Water Act celebration and also excited to usher in a new wave of technology, solar-powered clean water.”

If you’re attending the IWEA Conference in Fort Wayne August 17-19 at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne, please stop by and meet Jim Shaw and Mark Falahee at the Solential booth. If you’re not attending and would like to know more about powerful energy solutions that include solar for water and wastewater treatment plants, contact Mark Falahee at 317-978-1727 or email mfalahee@solential.com.