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Water utilities hop on Tesla bandwagon for energy savings

Californian water utilities have joined the world-wide Tesla battery craze, claiming they are reaping savings by storing energy in the batteries overnight.

The high-capacity batteries are well known for powering electric vehicles, but water utilities are beginning to tap the benefits too. Irvine Ranch Water District General Manager Paul Cook told Water Deeply that by charging the batteries at night, the utility has managed to save money on energy costs.

“We charge the batteries at night when more power is available and it’s cheaper, and then discharge them during during peak times. It’s that discharge during peak times that relieves the electric grid from the demand posed by our facilities,” he said.

“It also saves lots of money, because usually we’re paying a lot more for electricity during those times. Our electric bill gets to be a lot smaller.”

Cook said the flow on effects are benefiting energy providers too.

“It saves Irvine Ranch Water District money on our electric bill while sharing those cost savings with the contractors,” he said.

“They’re also getting incentives from [electricity supply company, Southern California] Edison, which is now saving money because they don’t have to go out and build peaker plants to avoid brownouts or blackouts.”

Cook also said there are plans to integrate solar into the energy mix, and that the battery storage will likely come in handy in the future for transferring energy produced by solar.

“It’s really having the land and having the load that makes sense. You can put up photovoltaics and sell it back into the grid if your local utility wants it,” he said.

“I think in this case it’s going to make a lot of sense because we know we can most likely use all the power generated by the photovoltaics with our facility. It’s this whole integration, ‘all-of-the-above’ approach: conservation and efficiency married up with recycling. But new resources are necessary, too.

“It’s all these pieces coming together to make the grid more reliable, which is good for everybody.”

Hear more about energy benchmarking at Ozwater’18, where Sydney Water and Melbourne Water outline European best practice applied locally. 

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