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The California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) is spearheading a statewide initiative to better educate the public, regulators, and local, state and federal leaders on the role they need to play in achieving new state and national clean energy goals.
In Governor Jerry Brown’s 2012 State of the State address, he called for “…a goal of 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020.” In President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, he set a goal of having 80 percent of all Americans’ electricity provided through clean energy by 2035. California’s clean water agencies are listening and responding to the demand for clean energy.
Many of California’s publicly owned clean water agencies and wastewater treatment plants are successfully generating clean energy to offset their individual agency needs. Wastewater plants are identified as resource recovery agencies producing energy in the form of biogas, biosolids, and methane. They are also able to produce energy when processing foods, fats, oil and grease provided by restaurants and residents.
“California’s clean water agencies are ready to be active partners at the state and national level to achieve these clean energy goals,” CASA President Gary Darling said. He added, “Local wastewater treatment and recycled water facilities are the ideal places to look at when investing resources into clean energy generation. Increased clean energy production at local wastewater facilities is just one of the ways we are protecting the environmental and local waterways.”
CASA’s initiative is not only aimed at educating about the value of clean energy, but it will identify opportunities in public forums to advocate for investing in its members’ clean energy production, as well as removing any obstacles for funding and production.
“Clean energy production is a relatively new industry, both the public and the decision-makers need to understand dollars invested today will reap benefits in the future by helping to significantly reduce our reliance on traditional, and rapidly dwindling, energy supplies such as oil,” Darling said.
In April 2009, a Water Environment Research Foundation report stated, “The energy potential contained in wastewater and biosolids exceeds by at least five times the energy used to treat it.” Currently, someCalifornia wastewater facilities are striving for a net zero energy consumption, literally becoming energy neutral by generating their own heat and power and even having excess energy available for outside use.
“This is an exciting time for California’s clean water agencies,” said Darling. “We have the opportunity to be part of our nation’s transformation from energy users to energy producers by expanding our everyday resource recovery work practices. Waste to watts, that’s our vision.”