Skagit PUD completes energy recovery project in Mount Vernon, Wash.
Under the global threat of climate change, public and private organizations are pivoting quickly to adapt to a changing environment and reduce emissions by implementing new technologies. To that end, the Skagit Public Utility District (PUD) announced the completion of the East Division Street Energy Recovery Project at its booster pump station in Mount Vernon, Wash., that will harnesses the energy produced by municipal water pipelines to generate electricity.
The installation is the first pressure recovery project in Washington state that uses a new smart water and micro-hydro system from InPipe Energy that generates electricity by harvesting excess pressure from municipal water pipelines.
According to Skagit PUD, the system, which is called In-PRV, will generate up to 94,000 kilowatt-hours or more of electricity per year while simultaneously providing pressure management that helps save water and extend the life of the pipeline. The electricity produced will be used to offset the use of grid power at the pump station, saving the utility (and its ratepayers) money while offsetting the equivalent of 3.5 million pounds of fossil-fuel-based carbon emissions annually.
The pump station’s system is the second installation of the In-PRV in a municipal water pipeline. The first, in Hillsboro, Ore., came online in September 2020, and is on track to produce 200,000 kilowatt-hours or more of electricity each year.
Water agencies typically deliver water to customers by gravity feed using pressure-reducing valves (PRVs), which help protect pipelines from leaks and maintain a safe water pressure. The In-PRV pressure recovery valve system converts the excess pressure from the friction created by normal PRVs into a source of carbon-free electricity. The In-PRV is the first system that combines software, micro-hydro and control technology as a turnkey product that can be installed quickly, easily and cost-effectively throughout water systems with smaller-diameter pipelines and wherever pressure must be reduced.
The Washington project was made possible with assistance from Puget Sound Energy as part of the organization’s “Beyond Net Zero Carbon” initiative, and a Coal Transition Board Grant from TransAlta energy company.
“Converting excess water pressure into clean, renewable energy is a win for the environment and our ratepayers,” said George Sidhu, general manager Skagit PUD. “In our actions, we want to preserve our region’s natural resources. As a public utility, we’re always looking to innovate and create greater efficiencies in the operation of our water system, and the East Division Street micro-hydro project checks all the boxes.”
Gregg Semler, president and CEO of InPipe Energy noted that, because the world’s infrastructure is energy and carbon intensive, there’s “a large, global opportunity for water agencies to meet their mission while also battling the impact of climate change. The sustainability of our nation’s water systems is paramount, yet water agencies are being constantly challenged with rising energy costs and aging infrastructure. By providing a more precise way to manage pressure in pipelines – while also producing electricity – our In-PRV product helps water agencies offset their energy costs while saving water, reducing carbon and extending the life of their infrastructure.”
In January 2021, Puget Sound Energy set its aspirational “Beyond Net Zero Carbon” energy company goal. Through this initiative, the energy organization targets reduction of its own carbon emissions to net zero and goes beyond by helping other sectors to enable carbon reduction across the state of Washington.
“We value the opportunity to provide this energy efficiency program grant to Skagit PUD to help them be more efficient and build resilience,” said Mary Kipp, president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy. “This partnership reflects our commitment to combat climate change by reducing our own carbon emissions to net zero and helping other sectors to enable carbon reduction across the state of Washington.”