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
- Building renewable energy projects on State Water Project (SWP) lands
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.
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.
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.
DWR is 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
DWR has 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||117||15|
|Lost Hills Operations & Maintenance Substation||807||24|
|Coalinga Operations and Maintenance Substation||64||21|
|Sutter Flood Maintenance Yard||61||37|
|West Sacramento Storage Yard||32||67|
DWR is also in the process of developing several photovoltaic solar 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.
The SWP has one of the cleanest power portfolios of all major utilities in California. DWR has been proactively responding to the evolving power market by reducing reliance on fossil fuel energy resources, assisting in maintaining grid reliability, and controlling energy costs for water customers.
Development of renewable energy generation on SWP property is one of our goals to reduce GHG emissions. Projects such as photovoltaic solar and small hydro-energy have been studied and implemented. DWR continues to evaluate and incorporate new technologies into business practices to meet the aggressive goals of reducing GHG emissions.
Over the past several years, DWR has conducted several surveys of our property to determine suitability to support the development of renewable energy generation.
- DWR is considering the addition of a second 12 MW generation unit to the existing 18 MW small hydroenergy recovery unit at Alamo Powerplant.
- In October 2015, DWR executed a power purchase agreement with Solar Star California XLIV, LLC, to construct, operate, and maintain the 9.5 MW Pearblossom Solar Facility.
- In November 2020, DWR executed a power purchase agreement with 92JT 8me, LLC, to construct, operate, and maintain the 100 MW Big Rock Solar Facility.
- In January 2021, DWR executed a power purchase agreement with Edwards Solar 1B, LLC, to construct, operate, and maintain the 48 MW Edwards Solar Facility. In January 2021, DWR executed a power purchase agreement with Sanborn Solar 1B, LLC, to construct, operate, and maintain the 36 MW Sanborn Solar Facility.
Solar facilities along the SWP’s open canal system is not feasible due to the embankments not being designed to support solar panels and associated infrastructure. Construction of heavy solar infrastructure 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, DWR 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 DWR could not produce from our own resources (e.g., hydrogeneration at Lake Oroville), the Department has 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, DWR has contracted for renewable energy generation to help meet SWP’s pump load using low GHG emitting resources. In 2018, SB 100 was signed into law and requires California’s electricity sector to be 100 percent emissions-free by 2045. The Climate Action Plan-Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan has been updated to reflect SB 100 requirements.
SWP’s Renewable Energy Procurement Plan (REPP) has been updated to meet the state’s aggressive clean energy goals. Under the REPP, SWP’s power portfolio is targeted to be 75 percent zero-emissions by 2030 and then to 100 percent zero-emissions by 2045. The REPP meets the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan (GGERP) emissions reduction strategy 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. DWR intends to add renewable energy from a variety of sources. The Department will 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:
- Through a 20-year power purchase agreement with RE Camelot, executed in February 2013, DWR 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, DWR 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, DWR 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.
- In November 2020, a 25-year power purchase agreement with 92JT 8me, LLC (8 Minute Solar Energy) was executed for the Big Rock project in Imperial County. The project is planned to be operational by the end of 2022 and will provide 300,000 megawatt-hour of solar energy on average per year.
- In January 2021, a 20-year power purchase agreement with Edwards Solar 1B, LLC (Terra-Gen) was executed for the Edwards Solar Project in Kern County. The project is planned to be operational by the end of 2022 and will provide 145,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy on average per year.
- In January 2021 a 20-year power purchase agreement with Sanborn Solar 1B, LLC (Terra-Gen) was executed for the Sanborn Solar Project in Kern County. The project is planned to be operational by the end of 2022 and will provide 105,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy on average per year.
- The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), a public corporation, owns and operates several small hydroelectric generating units. In September 2019, DWR contracted with MWD for 29 MW of small hydro resources that are expected to provide us with 93,000 MWh per year of renewable energy from October 2019 through September 2022.
SWP Renewable Energy Power Purchases
|Power Plant & Fuel Type||DWR Share of Capacity (MW)||DWR Share of Energy (GWh)||Effective Dates|
|Dominion - Camelot (solar)||45||124||Dec 2014 - Dec 2034|
|sPower - Solverde 1 (solar)||85||230||Dec 2016 - Dec 2036|
|SunPower - Solar Star California XLIV (solar)||9.5||28||Dec 2016 - Dec 2036|
|MWD (small hydro)||29||93||Oct 2019 - Sep 2022|
|92JT 8me, LLC - Big Rock (solar)||100||300||By the end of 2022 25-year term|
|Edwards Solar 1B, LLC - Edwards (solar)||48||145||By the end of 2022 20-year term|
|Sanborn Solar 1B, LLC - Sanborn (solar)||36||105||By the end of 2022 20-year term|
|Total (Active Contracts)||353||`1025|
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 353 MWs of capacity and 1025 GWhs of energy.
This stacked chart shows total annual energy in gigawatt hours from our renewable contracts compared to our Renewable Energy Procurement Plan or (REPP). DWR has exceeded our REPP since 2013.