Standby Power Gives Water District a Boost

Standby power is essentially the understudy of any major mechanical system.

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By Amie Alvarado

Standby power is essentially the understudy of any major mechanical system. It takes center stage should any type of power outage occur and allows businesses to resume, homes to run and offers peace of mind to all.

In the case of the Stockton East Water District (SEWD), its standby power system is not only responsible for keeping the SEWD up and running, but making sure the water district has enough power to provide water to more than 300,000 homes throughout the City of Stockton.

The Stockton East Water District, nestled in California’s San Joaquin County 80 miles east of San Francisco, was created in 1948 under the 1931 Water Conservation Act of California to protect and enhance the area’s groundwater basin. To benefit the area’s only reliable water supply which is critically overdrafted, SEWD provides surface water to both the agricultural and urban areas. In 1977, SEWD built a water treatment plant that provided 20 mgd to the Stockton urban area through its retail customers, the California Water Service Co., the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County. Today, the plant supplies a population of more than 300,000 with more than 60 mgd.

In 2006, SEWD began a badly needed $4 million upgrade to its 30-year-old pumping station. The station had relied on diesel powered engines for daily water production and pumping during electrical power outages.

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Four MD600 Generac generators provide 2,400 kW at 480 volts, which meets SEWD’s emergency power needs.
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On January 1, 2007, the EPA put into place clean diesel regulations requiring compliance by 2010. Faced with these regulations, which call for a reduction of 2.6 million tons per year of smog-causing nitrogen oxide, SEWD decided to switch to all electric motor driven pumps. This change certainly met the EPA’s requirement, but left them vulnerable to blackouts and other weather-related power outages. Not wanting to take a chance with circumstances beyond their control, SEWD officials began looking at emergency standby generators to supply backup power for pumping a capacity of 60 mgd.

Standby Generators

The utility turned to Energy Systems, of Stockton, CA. Based on the level of power required, Energy Systems President Don Richter recommended the Generac Modular Paralleling System (MPS) with MD600 generators and power manager control system.

For this particular application, the system provides 2,400 kW at 480 volts, which meets SEWD’s emergency power needs. Selling points included the system’s use of factory housing, which keeps the decibel level to a minimum and avoids the cost of building a separate enclosure. The system’s scalability was also attractive.

“With Generac’s MPS system the customer is provided with all of the benefits of parallel generation in a simple, single-source system,” Richter said. “We installed four MD600 standby generators and the Modular Paralleling System, which allows for additional standby generators to be added to the system and still be controlled by the power manager control system.”

Since the installation in January 2008, the four generators have been put to the test, said Ron Gregory, maintenance supervisor of SEWD.

“Because of the way that we sit on the power grid, we have had over a half dozen blackouts this year alone,” he said. “Our Generac generators have worked flawlessly for 68.4 hours in total. We are now confident that we will be able to provide the City of Stockton with uninterrupted service for years to come.” WW

About the Author:

Amie Alvarado, industrial channel manager at Generac Power Systems, has been with the company for 10 years. She began her career at Generac in the human resources department before moving over to the industrial side where she worked with the sales and marketing department for six years prior to her promotion to channel manager. Alvarado is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI, with a bachelor’s degree in finance with a concentration in financial planning.

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