New Energy Recovery System Produces Carbon-Free Electricity

Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Making water safe to drink and delivering it to homes and businesses requires a lot of electricity. Large pumps, motors, and valves help transport water through 650 miles of pipelines in the Skagit Valley. As a result, Skagit PUD is always looking for ways to create greater efficiencies and reduce operational costs within its water system. Skagit PUD recently completed the East Division Street Energy Recovery Project at its booster pump station in Mount Vernon.

“The supply water in this facility comes from our Judy Reservoir,” Distribution Superintendent Ryan Anderson said. “It comes in at high pressure, and we use a pressure reducing valve to fill our reservoir outside the facility.

“Now, we will be using the In-PRV to mimic this existing pressure reducing valve and then take the wasted heat and turn it into usable energy.”

Skagit PUD’s installation is the first renewable energy project in Washington state that utilizes the In-PRV from InPipe Energy, a new smart water and micro-hydro system that generates electricity by harvesting excess pressure from municipal water pipelines. By recovering the energy embedded in excess water pressure and converting it into electricity, the system will generate up to 94,000 kilowatt-hours or more electricity per year while providing pressure management that helps save water and extend the life of the pipeline. The electricity produced will be utilized to offset the use of grid power at the pump station, saving Skagit PUD (and its ratepayers) money and replacing the equivalent of 3.5 million pounds of fossil-fuel-based carbon emissions annually. The project was made possible with Puget Sound Energy assistance, as part of their “Beyond Net-Zero Carbon” initiative, and a Coal Transition Board Grant from TransAlta energy company.

“Converting excess water pressure into clean, renewable energy is a win for the environment and our ratepayers,“ Skagit PUD General Manager George Sidhu said.

“Environmental stewardship is one of Skagit PUD’s core values, and in our actions, we want to preserve our region’s natural resources. As a public utility, we’re always looking to innovate and create greater efficiencies in the operation of our water system. The East Division Street micro-hydro project checks all the boxes,” Sidhu added.

In January 2021, Puget Sound Energy set its aspirational “Beyond Net-Zero Carbon” energy company goal. Through this initiative, PSE targets reducing its carbon emissions to net zero and goes beyond by helping other sectors enable carbon reduction across the state.

“We value the opportunity to provide this energy efficiency program grant to Skagit PUD to help them be more efficient and build resilience,” PSE President and CEO Mary Kipp said.

“This partnership reflects our commitment to combat climate change by reducing our own carbon emissions to net zero and helping other sectors to enable carbon reduction across the state of Washington.”