Public Utilities

Public Utilities



Riverside, Calif. – Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) has been chosen by the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to receive its 2011 Outstanding Energy Management Award, for its ongoing in-system study of a water pipe that generates electricity.

The award recognizes top water utilities whose energy management in operation of potable water supplies provides cost savings attributed to innovative, significant, and transferable techniques.

Developed through a partnership with Lucid Energy Technologies of Portland, Oregon, and Northwest Pipe Company of Vancouver, Washington, a portion of a gravity-fed water pipe is fitted with a vertical axis spherical turbine, which spins as water passes it generating electricity. The world’s first prototype unit was installed inside a 48-inch water pipe in Riverside in February 2010.

Riverside was chosen as the pilot project city for this new technology based on RPU’s progressive outlook to find new renewable energy resources and the City’s ongoing commitments to create a more sustainable and environmentally stable community. “Riverside is proud to serve as the pilot city to drive this technology forward,” said Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge. “Once perfected, this could be an exciting advancement in renewable energy that utilities world-wide could use.”

The first generation system of the in-line power pipe produced a maximum of 7 kilowatts (kW) of electricity at full flow on a continuous basis. Through monitoring, redesign, and re-installing new prototypes, Northwest Pipe Co. and Lucid Energy have been able to increase that output to 20 kW with the third generation turbine that is currently in place. The third generation unit alone has already produced more than 23 megawatt hours of energy.

“We’re very excited about the advancements the project has seen with this technology,” said RPU General Manager David H. Wright. “The ability to utilize existing municipal infrastructures to create a continuous renewable energy source is what green technology development is all about.”

RPU will receive their award at the California-Nevada AWWA’s fall conference in Reno, Nevada next month.

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