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Santa Cruz uses sun to power wastewater treatment facility

City of Santa Cruz sets example for others


Water in Santa Cruz is a little cleaner these days thanks to the city’s use of innovative power-production technology.

Recently, the city of Santa Cruz set an example for other organizations when it invested in a 50.4 kW solar electric system. The solar electric system at the City of Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) was designed and installed by Renewable Energy Concepts of Los Osos. The new system is the second largest in Santa Cruz County.

The solar electricity produced will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 tons per year, which is equal to the planting of 19 acres of trees, and will save the city $15,000 per year in electricity costs. The system will produce 76, 811 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, which is enough to power 25 homes. The city is now using almost 50 percent renewable power for its municipal buildings. The system cost of $194,212 was divided between the city and the Santa Cruz County Sanitation District, and is expected to pay for itself within 13 years. The system, which has an expected life span of 30 years, was unveiled to the public on May 17 at a completion ceremony hosted by the Santa Cruz WWTF.

Installation of the solar electric system was partnered with two other improvements to the facility: an upgrade to the plant’s biogas/natural gas electric cogeneration system and a carbon absorption odor control system. The projects demonstrate the city’s dedication to environmental protection.

Many other cities and public utilities would consider grid-connected solar  roofs if their states provided financial incentives. Solar power, most available and least expensive on summer afternoons is the perfect replacement for the most expensive fossil fuel electricity. It reduces power peaks, demand charges and cuts emission of greenhouse gases. Maybe if we encouraged more solar power we would repalce those hazy lazy days of summer with a refreshing new vision as well as healthy air.  

Media Contact: Heather Zwaduk, Media Relations

 (805) 528-9705 ext.350 or (805) 680-2829