EBMUD pilots in-conduit hydroelectric system

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has partnered with a California-based clean energy company to generate electricity from the flow of water in its distribution system. EBMUD said the investment supports its energy policy goal to become carbon neutral by 2030.

InPipe Energy’s new in-conduit hydroelectric system works like traditional pressure regulating valves in a utility’s water distribution system but uses a turbine to reduce water pressure in the distribution pipeline while generating electricity. This creates a reliable, clean source of power, according to the company.

Installed in parallel with EBMUD’s Piedmont Regulator, InPipe said the in-conduit hydroelectric system will replicate the function of the existing regulator while generating approximately 130,000 kWh of emission-free energy per year for use onsite. This system is expected to offset nearly 6 metric tons of CO2 emissions. InPipe also said the installation marks a first for the technology in California.

“EBMUD is always looking for innovative opportunities to meet our goal to become a carbon-neutral enterprise and contribute to fighting climate change,” said EBMUD Board Member Marguerite Young. “This project generates clean energy while accomplishing our mission of providing clean, safe water to our customers. I’m looking forward to seeing more projects like this in our service area and around the country.”

Since 2000, EBMUD has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by roughly half by generating and using solar energy, biogas and hydroelectricity, as well as by purchasing lower-emission energy, installing energy-efficient equipment and machinery, and purchasing zero- or low-emission vehicles.

EBMUD is California’s second-largest water and wastewater retail utility with 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The district said it will evaluate the performance and economics of the pilot to determine if this site or other locations can offer a cost-effective source of zero-emission energy.

“We will continue to implement cutting-edge solutions to meet our energy and sustainability goals, which is good for our community and the planet,” added EBMUD General Manager Clifford Chan.

A video of the EBMUD installation can be viewed here.

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