SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - In San Luis Obispo water bills have steadily gone up over the years. Those rates are going to help pay for major efficiency upgrades at the city's wastewater treatment plant.
"We are the biggest energy user of power in the city of San Luis Obispo," said Howard Brewen, supervisor of the plant. San Luis Obispo's wastewater treatment plant's energy bill has a price tag of $400-$500,000 a year.
"1.7 billion one gallon jugs come through every year, and it's a tremendous amount of money to treat that," said Brewen. That's why the plant came up with the plan to overhaul a lot of its old equipment to become more energy efficient.
"Currently these pumps go on 100 percent and off 100 percent, this allows us to ramp up and down, which is a great deal better for efficiency," said Brewen about a piece of machinery.
With the improvements the plant estimates its energy use to go down by 20 percent as a whole. It said the upgrades will reduce CO2 emissions by 1 million pounds a year which is like removing 96 cars off the road.
The project will cost about $9.5 million but it comes with a return. "This project is really unique in that over a 25 year period of time we are going to get a return of 8 million dollars," said Brewen. It comes out to $325 thousand a year in savings.
The upgrades should stabilize the increasing rates for customers and the annual budget of $3.2 million will also be reduced.