Sanitation district signs firm to size up energy efficiency

FILE PHOTO. Luz Elena Henao, a treatment plant operator, cleans off large water filters used at the Sanitation District's Valencia Water Reclamation Plant on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. Christian Monterrosa/ The Signal

Just in time for Earth Day, local wastewater treatment officials approved a plan Monday to find ways of treating sewage with greater energy efficiency.

On Monday, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District board approved a plan to contract with an energy-saving company called Schneider Electric Inc., to conduct an “energy audit” on how energy is used at the Valencia Water Reclamation Plant on The Old Road, near Rye Canyon Road.

Specifically, the company is being hired to do an audit on the plant’s secondary treatment aeration system, which typically requires a lot of energy.

Once the audit is done and recommendation made on how to use energy more efficiently, district officials are expected to decide whether to approve the proposed changes.

“If a decision is made to do a project, the savings pays for the capital costs and the firm’s fee,” said Ray Tremblay, head of facilities planning for the district.

“The  idea is that the energy savings are used to fund the project,” he said. “It’s an alternative to the conventional design-bid-build approach used by public agencies for capital improvements.”

The energy audit is called an investment grade audit.

Under the program, the energy service company — in this case Schneider Electric Buildings Inc. — finds ways to use energy more efficiently.

Whatever cost savings they find in their audit is the amount of money that will help pay for implementing the selected energy savings project.

The district is allowed by the state to use energy service companies to perform energy-efficient projects.

District staffers went looking for the right company for the job. As a result of a solicitation of proposals, Schneider Electric was ranked as the most qualified ESCO out of a total of five applicants.

Three of the highest rated proposers were brought in for interviews and, as a result, Schneider Electric was determined to be the most qualified due to their applicable experience, technical

expertise and design approach to perform an investment grade audit for the plant.

The investment grade audit is expected to include project costs and associated energy-saving estimates associated with replacing obsolete and energy-inefficient aeration system equipment, as well as other energy conservation measures identified at the plant.

It is expected to come with at least 30 percent of the design completed, guaranteeing a firm,

fixed-price cost.

After the audit is completed, the district will have the option to enter in to a negotiated energy savings performance contract with Schneider Electric to complete the project design, and then construct and verify project performance and predicted cost savings.

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