Mojave Water Agency Celebrates New Near Net-Neutral Hydroelectric, Clean Energy System

By on November 14, 2019

Mojave Water Agency (MWA) cut the ribbon on a $4.3 million, clean-energy system last week after yeas of planning. The new hydroelectric project will take advantage of water from the California Aqueduct to the district’s groundwater basin in the Victor Valley by converting existing pressure into electrical energy. The process will provide a near net-neutral status in its energy consumption — a byproduct that will save MWA millions of dollars over the next 30 years and provide numerous environmental benefits.

MWA Board President Carl Coleman extolled the project’s success during the ribbon-cutting celebration. He noted that the project is a prime example of MWA’s role as a steward of the environment.

“While today’s celebration focuses on Mojave Water Agency’s primary mission, which is managing water for the benefit of our region, the project will bring numerous environmental benefits as well as save the Agency millions of dollars over the next 30 years,” Coleman said. “We recognize that projects like these are an opportunity to preserve our beautiful, fragile desert environment while ensuring the sustainability of water in our region.”

The project will convert existing pressure into electrical energy through a hydroelectric turbine that was installed at MWA’s Deep Creek Pressure Reducing Facility. Unlike solar, the new hydroelectric system is not restricted to daytime production and allows for greater operational flexibility. The central component of the project is an 820-kilowatt, hydroelectric turbine generator that can process up to 12,000 acre-feet of water (nearly 4 billion gallons) per year at a maximum flow rate of 20 cubic-feet per second. Using the existing pressure and available flow within the pipeline, the hydroelectric turbine controls the flow of water while producing electricity and offsetting MWA operating costs.

The electric power will be sent to California Edison’s (SCE) power grid, which is then credited to the MWA’s other SCE accounts. Records indicate that throughout last year MWA consumed over 6.7 million kilowatt-hours of electrical power. At full capacity, the hydroelectric turbine can produce 6.5 million kilowatt-hours of power. The new hydroelectric project is MWA’s first such turbine generator to be connected SCE’s system. The hydroelectric turbine produces nearly as much electrical energy when measured in kilowatt-hours as a 9- to 15-acre solar panel farm over the course of a year; MWA’s hydroelectric turbine is stored inside a 32’ by 40’ building.

Other clean energy features of the project include offsetting 4,540 metric tons of carbon dioxide which in the past would have been supplied by non-renewable electricity. This equates to greenhouse gas emissions from 972 passenger vehicles.

The hydroelectric project qualifies for California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard as an eligible project to help the state reach its goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. By capitalizing on the existing pressure and flow of water when recharging the aquifer, the hydroelectric project signals “a new era of efficiency” in MWA’s role in ensuring a sustainable water supply for the region. MWA worked with Kiewit Infrastructure, NLine Energy, Canyon Industries, and SCE to see the hydroelectric project to completion.

“Not only does this day commemorate the tremendous effort and energy put forth by everyone involved,” MWA Superintendent of Operations Mike Simpson said, “but it marks the beginning of a new era of efficiency for Mojave Water Agency.”