San Leandro will reveal a brand new one-megawatt solar panel system at its Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, a milestone in the Bay Area city’s quest to radically upgrade its energy infrastructure to cut costs, improve air quality, and adapt to California’s increasing strain for electricity.
“There are no ifs, ands, or buts about the need for California cities to figure out where and how we can cut back on grid dependency for energy,” Mayor Pauline Cutter commented. “The City of San Leandro has been on a mission to improve the way we operate for years, and what we’ve learned is that technologies of, and for, the future are required to accomplish it. This green energy project by Climatec meets future demands as it aligns with our sustainability efforts.”
The WPCP has been San Leandro’s largest consumer of energy among City facilities. The plant regulates, collects, treats, and disposes of wastewater, which are essential functions for protecting San Francisco Bay’s water quality and the broader ecosystem. It also supplements the local water supply with recycled water, cleaning about five million gallons of wastewater a day, with spikes of up to 14 million gallons.
The new solar panels make it possible for the plant to generate its own energy, reducing overall usage by at least 45 percent–that’s up to $247,500 in plant enterprise savings each year. Other new efficiency improvements include intelligent HVAC controls and LED lights that further optimize the WPCP’s energy use, as well as battery storage that turns the solar array and plant into a micro-grid capable of keeping critical services running during power outages.
The program has earned San Leandro accolades, including a $2 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) in 2018. The same year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors named San Leandro a winner in its Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards for the initiative.
The WPCP improvements are a part of Smart City San Leandro, a citywide effort to implement technologies and infrastructure that is creating a brighter future. Because of these improvements, San Leandro met its Climate Action Plan goal of reducing 2005 emission levels by 25 percent before 2020.