Many of us have found ways to save energy in our homes, but what do you do when you’re a wastewater treatment facility, running big, critical machines like digester pumps? You still work with your power provider. Sumner’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility has been working with Puget Sound Energy, Cascade Energy, and other treatment facilities in the region to find ways to save energy. In Phase 1, everyone brainstormed and explored simple changes to save power. For example, our digester pumps used to run 24 hours a day. We looked into the idea of shutting it off for an hour and running it for an hour, alternating through the day. It turns out, this practice actually processes your sewage better and saves us 50% on the power to run the pump. We also finished upgrading all the lights on the exterior of the facility to LED and now we’re looking indoors too. Puget Sound Energy has been a great partner, offering grants and rebates as well as the savings. Cascade Energy does the audits to monetize for us exactly how much we’ll save with each change.
Our goal was to save 5% in the first year. So far, we’ve doubled our goal; actually, we’re up to a little over 12%. And remember, your utility rates are calculated based directly on our costs to run the utility, so savings on our end means you benefit in the long run too. And then there’s the additional resources benefit of saving energy as we work to keep water safe. This is just the start. In Phase 2, we’ll explore larger capital projects that save even more and look for grants to help pay for them. In the meantime, PSE and Cascade Energy are using Sumner as an example with other state-wide and regional utilities to show what they can do together. The image shown is an example of the slides used to present to other utility companies.
Although you’re not (likely) working with machines like digester pumps, you may also be missing ways to make easy changes to save energy in your home or business.