Contra Costa Water District is tapping into an existing water pipeline to generate energy for its East Contra Costa services.
The water district launched a $6.2 million hydroelectric generation facility recently that produces energy from the existing Los Vaqueros pipeline. The facility is adjacent to the district's Antioch Service Center, on the Antioch-Oakley border.
The water turbine will produce up to one megawatt of energy -- reducing the nearby pump station's use of carbon-based fuels by about 10 percent, said Jennifer Allen, a district spokeswoman.
"We realized that there is a great deal of energy coming down that just dissipates, so our goal is to capture that beforehand," said Dan Owre, the district's director of construction.
The water flows from Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Old River and Middle River and to a pipe that runs through Byron, Brentwood and Antioch on its way to the service station. The turbine converts the water pressure into energy.
The turbine "acts like a pump in reverse," Owre said. The energy from the slowing water powers an electric generator.
The project saves Contra Costa Water about $2,000 per day, or about 5 to 10 percent of its costs, Owre said. The project was included years ago in the district's long-term capital improvement plan.
Contra Costa Water has launched several efforts to add alternative energy projects, including having an outside firm operate and maintain four solar panels at its pumping stations or tanks, Allen said. It also has agreements with windmill companies to generate energy near the reservoir, she said.
District officials say green alternative energy projects provide opportunities to invest in systems that reduce reliance on carbon-based energy, save money for ratepayers and provide environmental benefits.
For more information, go to www.ccwater.com.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.