Water and wastewater plants join Energy Star to cut electricity costs

U.S. drinking water and wastewater plants are joining a new EPA initiative to increase their energy efficiency and reduce municipalities' electric bills. Over the next year, with participation by more than 20 organizations, the new Energy Star Industrial Water and Wastewater Focus will develop an energy performance rating system, a guide to assessing energy efficiency opportunities, strategies for superior energy management and innovative approaches to financing energy efficiency projects. This new Energy Star program for water systems is part of a series of efforts to improve the energy efficiency of selected industries.

Drinking water and wastewater systems spend about $4 billion a year on energy to pump, treat, deliver, collect and clean water -- with much of this cost borne by ratepayers and municipalities. The energy costs to run drinking water and wastewater systems can represent as much as one-third of a municipality's energy bill. If drinking water and wastewater systems reduce energy use by just 10 percent through cost-effective investments in energy efficiency, collectively they would save about $400 million and 5 billion kWh annually, according to EPA

Currently, the Energy Star Water and Wastewater Focus includes the American Council for An Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), Awwa Research Foundation, California Energy Commission (CEC), Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), Columbus (GA) Water Works, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Los Angeles - Bureau of Sanitation, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Oakridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Public Technology Institute (PTI), Water Environment Federation (WEF), Wisconsin Focus on Energy, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) and WateReuse Association.

EPA, through Energy Star, develops focuses for sectors that consume large amounts of energy, produce significant carbon emissions, have large costs associated with energy use, and would benefit from tools and resources to improve energy efficiency. EPA currently has an Energy Star Industrial Focus for the corn-refining, beer-brewing, automobile assembly and cement industries.

Information on Energy Star's Industrial Focus is available at http://energystar.gov/ia/business/government/wastewater_fs.pdf, and additional information about Energy Star is available at http://www.energystar.gov.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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