EBMUD focuses on energy and the environment

The East Bay Municipal Utility District has long been committed to developing new energy sources and protecting the environment. In 2010 EBMUD generated over 100,000 megawatt-hours more energy from renewable sources than it used as a water and wastewater service provider.

For more than 25 years, EBMUD has strived for energy efficiency at its wastewater treatment plant, at the base of the Bay Bridge in Oakland. Here, food and other wastes are transformed into renewable energy to meet much of the power needs of the plant. By summer 2011, a new turbine will add more energy production to existing power generation capabilities – and will begin to sell renewable energy back to the grid after meeting power demands at the plant.

Ninety miles from Oakland in the Sierra Mountains, EBMUD operates two reservoirs on the Mokelumne River as an integrated system to provide water supply while meeting numerous needs downstream. Each site has a hydroelectric plant that generates clean hydropower – enough in a typical year to power nearly 20,000 homes.

This energy-efficient tone was set by EBMUD’s founding fathers, who designed a water system in the 1920s that relies on gravity to transport snowmelt through three large pipes to the East Bay. When pumping is needed, it is done during off-peak hours when possible. Today EBMUD uses 89 percent less energy than the average California utility to deliver water.

EBMUD continues to find ways to use less energy. Solar installations and microturbines at the District’s main Oakland office, a satellite office, and its El Sobrante water treatment plant are part of plans to get more energy from renewable sources. The car fleet has been converted to hybrids; biodiesel for heavy-duty trucks has been tested; and as facilities are built or renovated, construction emphasizes recycled materials, energy efficiency, and water-efficient landscaping.

“For more than two decades, EBMUD has relentlessly pursued new energy sources and worked to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” says Board President John A. Coleman. “These efforts helped EBMUD cut greenhouse gas emissions to below year 2000 levels and get to that mark six years ahead of schedule. Thanks to the leadership of long-time General Manager Dennis Diemer, we’ve made great strides in generating clean energy and we’re committed to doing even more in the years ahead.”