Metropolitan agrees to reduce energy use by up to 45 percent on Colorado River Aqueduct

California's statewide electrical crisis will be partially eased this summer by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, with the agency's commitment today to reduce its power use and provide energy for an additional 35,000 homes.

LOS ANGELES, Calif., May 9, 2001 — California's statewide electrical crisis will be partially eased this summer by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, with the agency's commitment today to reduce its power use and provide energy for an additional 35,000 homes.

Under an agreement with the California Independent System Operator (ISO), Metropolitan will make additional electricity available for California's power needs, without impacting the reliability of imported water service for 17 million Southern Californians.

General Manager Ronald R. Gastelum said Metropolitan's latest action continues the district's effort to help ease the state crisis.

"We already turn off some of our Colorado River Aqueduct pumps when requested by the Southern California Edison Co., freeing up enough electricity for 100,000 Southern California homes," Gastelum said. "To provide further assistance, particularly this summer, we stand ready to shut down four additional aqueduct pumps for limited periods when requested by the ISO to help reduce the need for rolling blackouts. Together, these reductions will amount to a nearly 45 percent reduction in energy use along the Colorado River.

"And," Gastelum added, "we are doing this in a manner that only a good public steward can, by helping to keep the state from having to purchase power on the spot market."

Metropolitan has sufficient water stored in its Southland reservoirs, including Diamond Valley Lake in southwest Riverside County, to continue supplying its 26 member public agencies during these shutdowns, Gastelum said.

"While obviously we are concerned about the state's power shortage, we will do nothing to jeopardize the reliability or quality of the region's water supply. That, of course, is our number one priority," he said.

Under today's agreement, Metropolitan will temporarily shut down pumps at the Hinds Pumping Plant near Desert Center, the last of the five pump stations along the aqueduct route, when requested by the ISO. The Hinds plant has some of the aqueduct's biggest motors, because it has the highest lift along the route: 441 feet.

The previous agreement with Edison calls for Metropolitan to temporarily shut down 16 of its Colorado River Aqueduct pumps at Edison's option. When requested by Edison, Metropolitan shuts down the pumps at its Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant on the Colorado River and at the nearby Gene Pumping Plant. These plants begin the water's 242-mile journey to the aqueduct's terminal reservoir, Lake Mathews, near Riverside.

Metropolitan cuts the pumps up to 20 times a year, under the Edison agreement, for periods as long as four hours per day. In return, Metropolitan receives benefits, including energy from Edison.

Metropolitan began pursuing ways of saving energy long before the current power situation. In 1995, the district began conducting energy audits at its five water filtration plants to improve efficiency. To date, Metropolitan has put into operation audit recommendations at three of the plants, resulting in an 18 percent reduction in energy use.

In addition to saving energy, Metropolitan is making investments to increase its ability to generate power. The district is in the process of converting some of the existing pumps at its Diamond Valley Lake pumping plant to turbine generators.

By June 1, using normal water releases at Diamond Valley, Metropolitan plans to generate up to 13 megawatts of electricity at the plant to help meet the needs of electric consumers. The power generated will add to the 100 megawatts generated from the district's 15 existing hydroelectric power plants along its water distribution system.

"These facilities produce clean, `green' power without any air emissions or environmental impacts by capturing the energy available when water flows through our system," Gastelum said.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 17 million people in six counties. The District imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other water-management programs.

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