Clean Energy

A solar electric facility near the California Department of Water Resources’ Pearblossom Pumping Plant in Los Angeles County that is helping reduce the State Water Project’s carbon footprint.

A solar electric facility near the California Department of Water Resources’ Pearblossom Pumping Plant in Los Angeles County that is helping reduce the State Water Project’s carbon footprint.

As the fourth largest zero emissions hydropower energy producer in the state, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is always finding innovative ways to reduce its carbon footprint.


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, DWR became the only public agency to ever receive the National Climate Leadership Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, for excellence in GHG 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 Independent System Operator’s electricity market to support the integration of renewable resources into the power grid.

One of the most significant environmental impacts that occur due to energy generation from fossil fuels is the emissions of GHG that have been shown to contribute to climate change.  DWR has 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.


DWR has a comprehensive plan that ensures the SWP power portfolio meets or exceeds aggressive GHG reduction targets. The SWP already met our emission reduction goal of reducing GHG emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. With 65 percent of the SWP’s power portfolio currently consisting of its own carbon-free hydroelectric generation and from renewable energy purchases like solar power, DWR is on track to be at 75 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045 for its GHG emission reduction goals.


The charts below show our emission targets, actual emission, and water deliveries. DWR has 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 (2010-2019) 

The above chart demonstrates that DWR's annual emissions are on track to meet our GHG emissions reduction targets of 2030 and 2045 and that GHG emissions are correlated to DWR water deliveries and hydrological conditions. 


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


SF6 Emission Rates (2010-2019) 

CARB’s maximum allowable SF6 emission rate decreases linearly from 10 percent in 2011 to 1 percent by 2020. The emission limits are further lowered for future years to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.  Since 2011, DWR has been below these maximum permitted emission limits.