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EBMUD's Journey to Becoming a Net Electricity Producer

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Main Wastewater Treatment Plant (MWWTP) has been producing renewable energy on site since 1985 and has more than doubled the amount of energy produced since 2002, from over 2 megawatts (MW) to over 4 MW. It is anticipated that the MWWTP will become one of the first publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) in North America to produce more electricity than it consumes on an annual basis. Becoming a net electricity producer is a result of both reducing on-site demand and increasing on-site generation. Since the California energy crisis of 2000/2001, a number of demand reduction projects, both large and small, have been implemented. More significantly, high-strength organic waste co-digestion has increased biogas production and electricity generation. In order to utilize the additional biogas and reduce flaring, the on-site power generation facility is being expanded to increase the electrical production capacity from 6.5 MW to 11 MW. For several reasons, the MWWTP will continue to both import and export power from the electrical grid, even once it becomes a net electricity producer. Several key challenges as well as the boundaries of the analysis are described and additional energy inputs for future analyses are considered.

Keywords: Net electricity producer; energy efficiency; net energy producer; publicly-owned treatment works; renewable energy production

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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