The City of Sacramento expanded its solar installation with two new sites—the Fairbairn and Sacramento Water Treatment Plants. The Fairbairn Water Treatment Plant alone is designed to treat up to 200 million gallons of water each day, providing the residents of Sacramento clean water fed from the American River, while the Sacramento plant pulls from the Sacramento River. Approximately, 85% of Sacramento’s drinking water comes from these two rivers, and with thousands of customers, the water treatment plants are an often overlooked, yet critical part of the daily operations of the City. With these new projects, the City of Sacramento is able to not only deliver this important commodity in a cleaner way, but they’re also able to generate valuable savings for the City at the same time.
The Fairbairn and Sacramento Water Treatment Plants are Phase II of a larger partnership with SolarCity. Sacramento first partnered with SolarCity in 2011 to complete four solar projects totaling 1.9 MW. The four installations are located at City Hall, the police department, Meadowview Service Center and the South Corporation Yard. Now the City’s total project size is 3.4 MW and is expected to produce about 4.2 million kWh annually, offsetting over 150 million pounds of CO2 over 30 years.
As a mission critical operation, water treatment plants have many unique technical requirements. For example, SolarCity needed to address the load constraints of the water tanks, the interconnection issues associated with medium voltage applications and coordinate integration with the plants’ existing SCADA systems. SolarCity’s team of experienced designers, engineers and installers rose to the challenge, creating customized ground mount installations that used non-penetrating, ballasted racking to address the load issues and avoid attachments on the water tanks. Not only is the system integrated with SCADA, but city officials can also track the solar energy production alongside the facility’s energy consumption through SolarCity’s PowerGuide™ monitoring service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The 1.5 MW solar system will benefit the environment as it is expected to produce about 2.2 million kWh of solar electricity annually, which is roughly equivalent to 7% of the plants’ combined electricity consumption and the electricity used to power 200 homes. These systems will also offset almost 79 million pounds of CO2 over their lifetime, which will bring cleaner air to current and future generations.