How Solar Energy Pays Off for Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Wastewater treatment is an energy intensive process. Electricity is required for almost every stage of the treatment process, from collection of raw sewage to discharge of treated effluent. With pumps, motors and other equipment operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s no surprise that wastewater treatment facilities are among the largest consumers of energy in a community.

The good news is wastewater facilities throughout the Midwest are achieving substantial energy and financial savings through operational and maintenance changes and capital improvements. Their investment in energy efficiency has allowed them to stabilize rates, meet local sustainability goals and improve effluent quality.

Many government and municipal entities have embraced solar as a way to sustainably lower their operating costs. In addition to thousands of schools, universities and hospitals now benefiting from solar power, a growing number of utility-owned water and wastewater treatment facilities have seen solar projects developed and built on their properties.

Why Wastewater Treatment Facilities Are Embracing Solar Energy

The sewage treatment plant of the future is going to be an all-around, self sustaining resource recovery facility. The recent interest in solar can be attributed to five main factors:

  1. A growing suite of financing options and acceptance of solar as an asset class.

  2. Prodigious and continuing reductions in module and system costs — amounting to more than 50 percent over the past four years – as well as decreasing labor, permitting and other soft costs.

  3. Varying levels of local, state and federal incentives and renewable energy initiatives.

  4. Significant improvements in construction speed, while still maintaining installation quality.

  5. Increased awareness of the threat of climate change and the need to transition to clean energy sources.

As a result of these trends, solar is inching closer to price parity with conventional energy in many parts of the Midwest. Power Purchase Agreements and other financing options make the sticker shock of investing more manageable.

One of the most attractive aspects of the solar PPA approach is that the water utility avoids any upfront capital costs, since the developer partner designs and installs the system at no charge and a solar asset specialist maintains ownership. For the lifetime of the agreement, the water utility pays the system owner for the solar power generated on the property, while the owner maintains and operates the system. The kilowatt-hour cost of energy is locked in at a rate lower than what the power utility company would charge, a rate that is likely to increase in the future.

Solar Financial Benefits for Wastewater Treatment Facilities

When deciding on which solar developer and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm to work with, the water plant owner should discuss which components they plan to specify for the solar installation. Although solar products in general are of good to excellent quality, not all panels, inverters, racking/mounting and other balance-of-systems components are created equal.

At Telamon Energy Solutions, our focus is on supporting the planning, management, and solar energy generation for a business while helping to develop a clear customized corporate energy strategy tailored to your business. Purchasing solar energy today will save up to 30% of your energy costs over the lifetime of the system, helping you lower your operating costs immediately. Especially when you have an experienced partner at your side.

One of the most important of these governmental programs, the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), could shrink from 30 percent to 10 percent at the end of 2016 if Congress does not amend or extend it. The ITC has been a financial linchpin that has helped fuel the current solar boom in the United States.

Although going solar will continue to be economically beneficial for an increasing number of homeowners and businesses, it makes sense to take advantage of the ITC and other incentives while they are available.

Request Telamon Energy Solutions to perform a free energy assessment of your business today.