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Energy Management of the Water Sector in Municipal Climate Action Plans

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The purpose of this study was to determine the ways in which energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the water sector have been included in western cities' climate action plans, and to identify the suite of strategies that can most effectively achieve water-energy conservation under this policy program. The water-energy nexus is increasingly relevant in the western US, where water supplies closely match demand. Moreover, water utilities operations can account for 20-40% of government GHG emissions. Three western cities, Albuquerque, Denver and Phoenix, were selected for this study for their size and robust development of climate action plans. By reviewing city documents and holding conversations with city and utility staff, we found that water-energy programs are rather limited under climate action plans, but more frequently incorporated in sustainability programs, which have a broader focus. Nonetheless, climate action plans offer a unique focus on greenhouse gas mitigation strategies that sustainability plans do not, and thus they can be a useful policy tool to leverage water-energy conservation while ensuring greenhouse gas reductions. Among the most effective strategies for managing energy use in the water sector that should be utilized more is energy performance contracting, which addresses the energy used in the infrastructure and operations of the water-sector, and increased partnerships between water utilities and energy utilities to co-fund rebates and incentive programs for end users.

Keywords: Climate action plan; energy conservation; greenhouse gas emissions; water management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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