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SLO City makes energy-efficient upgrades to water treatment plant; new TESLA battery included

TESLA battery installed at water plant in SLO.
TESLA battery installed at water plant in SLO.

The City of San Luis Obispo announced it has completed two projects aimed at making the city’s water treatment plant more energy-efficient.

The SLO City Climate Action Plan reported that most water-related greenhouse gas emissions are tied to the electricity required to pump, treat and deliver water. That’s why it partnered with PG&E and TESLA for upgrades to improve the city water plant's resilience, while reducing its electrical demands.

The first project is the Water-Energy Efficiency project in collaboration with PG&E. It upgraded many of the plant’s older technologies, including its ozone disinfection system.

“We're upgrading that system, which was about 25 years old, and the new equipment is gonna result in about a 20 percent reduction in energy use at the water treatment plant,” SLO City Utilities Director Mychal Boerman said.

City leaders said the upgrade will help move SLO towards its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The second project added a new TESLA battery storage system to the water plant.

“What that battery pack does is it charges from the PG&E grid during periods of low power demand, when energy is less expensive and from cleaner sources,” Boerman said. “Then we can use that energy during peak periods, when energy costs are higher and when the energy that's produced is from less clean sources.”

The battery was installed at no added cost to taxpayers. This is because the TESLA battery project was funded by PG&E’s Self-Generation Incentive Program, a business rebate which Boerman said granted the city about $2.4 million dollars.

SLO City says it will continue to pursue measures that reduce its emissions, like its rebate programincentivizing developers to build all-electric housing.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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