Clean Energy

Chrisman Pumping Plant

The Ira J. Chrisman Wind Gap Pumping Plant is part of the State Water Project. Located in Kern County, it is one of several pumping plants moving water up and over the Tehachapi Mountains. DWR/1989

DWR promotes clean energy by:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Increasing procurement of renewable energy for operations
  • Improving energy efficiency in pumping and generating Facilities

The Department's membership in The Climate Registry ensures transparency in reporting, updating, tracking, and verifying our carbon footprint. In February 2015, we became the only public agency to ever receive the prestigious national Climate Leadership Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, for excellence in greenhouse gas management (Goal Setting certificate). This award recognizes organizations that publicly report and verify organization-wide GHG inventories and publicly set aggressive GHG emissions reduction goals.


As intermittent renewable energy supplies like solar and wind become a larger part of California’s energy portfolio, the need for additional “demand response resources” will increase to help balance the inconsistent generation of renewable power as the sun goes behind clouds or the wind dies down. DWR is considering potential ways to participate in California ISO’s electricity market to support the integration of renewable resources into the power grid.

One of the most significant environmental impacts that occur as a consequence of energy generation from fossil fuel is the emissions of GHG that have been shown to contribute to climate change. We've taken progressive steps to reduce our contribution to GHG emissions including termination of our high GHG intensity power supply agreement and investing in high-efficiency energy supplies. 


We have a comprehensive plan that ensures the SWP power portfolio meets or exceeds aggressive GHG reduction targets. We're on track to meet our near-term goal of reducing GHG emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.


The charts below show our emission targets, actual emission, and water deliveries. We've consistently met GHG emission reduction targets. The slight upward trend in recent years is attributed to the changing hydrological conditions and variability in water deliveries. 


DWR GHG Emissions and Water Delivered 2010 to 2016.


Caption: The above chart demonstrates that DWR's annual emissions are on track to meet our GHG emissions reduction target by 2020 and that GHG emissions are highly correlated to DWR water deliveries. 


Due to the high global warming potential of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has strict and linearly-decreasing percent emission limits on annual SF6 emissions as shown in red in the chart below. We've taken a number of steps to reduce the emission of SF6 stored at field divisions for use in gas insulated switchgear equipment.


SF6 Emission Rates 2010 to 2016.

Caption: CARB’s maximum allowable SF6 emission rate decreases linearly from 10 percent in 2011 to 1 percent by 2020. Since 2011, we've been below this limit.


We're actively engaged in identifying, planning, developing, coordinating, and executing projects to reduce our water and energy consumption at our facilities. These projects directly contribute to our commitment to reduce GHG emissions and meet the mandates of Executive Order B-18-12, which calls for:

  • Reducing grid-based energy purchase by 20 percent by 2018
  • Reducing overall water use by 20 percent by 2020
  • Converting 50 percent of building square footage to zero net energy by 2025

We've significantly reduced the grid-based energy consumption by upgrading the indoor and outdoor lighting systems and controls at the following 5 sites.

DWR Facility

Estimated Annual Energy Savings (MWh)

Energy Savings %

Oroville Field Division Headquarters



Lost Hills Operations & Maintenance Substation Center



Coalinga Operations & Maintenance Substation Center



Sutter Flood Maintenance Yard



West Sacramento Storage Yard




We're also in the process of developing several solar PV projects to further reduce our energy consumption. Our progress in reducing retail water and energy consumption is reported on the State of California Green Buildings website.

Development of renewable energy generation on SWP property, including land and waterways, is one of our goals to reduce GHG emissions. Projects such as photovoltaic solar and small hydroenergy have been studied and implemented. We continue to evaluate and incorporate new technologies into business practices to meet the aggressive goals of reducing GHG emissions. 


Over the past several years, we've conducted several surveys of our property to determine suitability to support the development of renewable energy generation.

  1. We're considering the addition of a second 12 MW generation unit to the existing 18 MW small hydroenergy recovery unit at Alamo Powerplant.
  2. In October 2015, we executed a power purchase agreement with Solar Star California XLIV, LLC, to construct, operate, and maintain the 9.5 MW Pearblossom Solar Facility.
  3. In 2010 and again in 2015, we investigated the feasibility of installing solar-generating technology along sections of the California Aqueduct right-of-way. Both investigations have yielded negative feasibility determinations. Several different design configurations were evaluated, but significant safety and maintenance conflicts exist. 

We conduct daily visual inspections of the California Aqueduct to assess the condition of critical features such as canal embankments, concrete liners, roads, bridges, overcrossings, and turnouts. Conditions such as canal lining failures and leaks require immediate emergency response. Observation of the water surface conditions such as water current eddies and vortices are important to identify deteriorating conditions that exist below the surface. Overhead access for inspections, maintenance, and emergency repairs is critical to maintaining employee safety, public safety, and the reliability of water deliveries.

Most of the open canal embankments were not designed to support solar panels. Construction of heavy solar structures could cause these embankments to fail, thereby resulting in a catastrophic failure that may create a prolonged outage of the California Aqueduct. Also, State owned right-of-way is limited to the width of the canal embankments. These areas along the toe include buried utility cables and pipelines that would prevent construction of large structural footings along the embankment toe. 

To the degree that the operational, structural, and adjacent infrastructure challenges cited above can be overcome, we will continue to evaluate new technologies and additional design configurations for solar facilities along the California Aqueduct.

To efficiently manage water resources and supply energy that we could not produce from our own resources (e.g., hydrogeneration at Lake Oroville), we have historically procured energy from various economically available sources using long-term power contracts. Due to California’s AB 32 and our commitment to the environment, we have contracted for renewable energy generation to help meet SWP’s pump load using low GHG emitting resources. This will allow us to successfully meet our long-term GHG emissions reduction goals.

We've created a Renewable Energy Procurement Plan (REPP) to meet aggressive goals to reduce GHG emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and then to 100 percent below 1990 levels by 2045. The REPP meets the GGERP emissions reduction strategy OP-1 as defined in the Climate Action Plan.

The REPP is designed to help achieve our long-term GHG emissions reduction goals by incrementally adding an increasing amount of renewable generation into the SWP energy portfolio. We intend to add renewable energy from a variety of sources. We'll continue to monitor emissions trends and will modify the schedule for procurement of renewable energy as necessary to meet near- and long-term goals.

Our renewable energy projects that have been procured through contracts include:

Landfill Gas & Geothermal

  • Between October 2012 and December 2016, we received 182,000 MWh of renewable energy annually from Alameda Municipal Power. This contract consisted of 28.3 MW of geothermal and 5.3 MW of landfill gas generation.


  • Through a 20-year power purchase agreement with RE Camelot, executed in February 2013, we purchased 100 percent of the energy produced from a 45 MW solar generating plant in Kern County. Over the life of the contract, this solar powerplant is expected to produce approximately 124,000 MWh of energy per year. The facility reached commercial operation in December 2014.
  • In November 2015, we executed a 20-year power purchase agreement with sPower for its 85 MW Solverde 1 Solar Facility, located 10 miles west of Lancaster, adjacent to a portion of the east branch of the California Aqueduct. Solverde 1 will provide us with 230,000 MWh per year of solar energy. Solverde 1 achieved commercial operation status in December 2016.
  • In October 2015, we executed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Solar Star California XLIV, LLC, to construct and operate the 9.5 MW Pearblossom Solar Facility on our lands adjacent to the Pearblossom Pumping Plant. This facility achieved commercial operation in December 2016 and will provide us with 28,000 MWh per year of solar energy.

Small Hydro

  • The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), a public corporation, owns and operates several small hydroelectric generating units. In December 2015, we contracted with MWD for 51.4 MW of small hydro resources that are expected to provide us with 60,000 MWh per year of renewable energy from January 2016 through December 2020.

SWP Renewable Energy Power Purchases

Power Plant & Fuel Type

DWR Share of Capacity (MW)

DWR Share of Energy (GWh)

Effective Dates

NCPA Geothermal 1 & 2 and Ameresco Ox Mountain Energy (landfill gas) - Alameda



Oct 2012 - Dec 2016

Dominion – Camelot




Dec 2014 – Dec 2034

sPower – Solverde 1




Dec 2016 – Dec 2036

SunPower – Solar Star California XLIV




Dec 2016 – Dec 2036


(small hydro)



Jan 2016 – Dec 2020

Total (Active Contracts)




Caption: This table of renewable contracts shows the name of the contracted power plant, the fuel type, our share of capacity and energy, and the effective dates. Active contracts total 191 MWs of capacity and 442 GWhs of energy.

Bar graph showing DWR Renewable Energy Procurement Plan. Contact DWR at to learn more.

Caption: This stacked chart shows total annual energy in gigawatt hours from our renewable contracts compared to our Renewable Energy Procurement Plan or (REPP). We have exceeded our REPP since 2013.