North Salt Lake water system saves 25% on energy

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The City of North Salt Lake, Utah, recently completed a strategic energy management (SEM) program focused on no-cost optimization opportunities and energy-saving capital projects in its water system.

The results include 3.7 million kilowatt-hours of avoided energy, which constitutes 25% of the water system’s baseline energy use over a three-year period, according to the program’s final reports. The cost savings are similar, amounting to 22% of the baseline cost. The City also observed improved pressures and fewer customer complaints.

Members of the project team reported to the city council on August 7.

“We were able to educate our staff about energy usage and how to save energy within our water system,” said Sam Christiansen, the City’s public works operations manager. “We went from not only thinking about meeting the water demand, but to how we can meet the demand in the most efficient manner.”

During the program, the project team—which included City staff, Rocky Mountain PowerCascade Energy, and Hansen, Allen & Luce (HAL)—identified several strategies which the City then implemented:

  • Lower PRV settings to prevent pumped water from descending to lower pressure zones and to reduce pressure swings
  • Prioritize wells according to energy footprints
  • Use off-peak electricity where possible
  • Evaluate capital projects for further energy savings

The changes implemented in the program will continue to save energy and money every year. Also critical to the program was the social change the public works department underwent in embracing energy management.

“We have made changes that not only save on energy, but also created a positive culture among our employees,” said Christiansen. “This positive culture has spilled over into other areas within the City, and we are excited for what else we can do.”

In 2014 North Salt Lake was among the first to engage in this SEM program under Rocky Mountain Power, which has now extended to some 25 water utilities in Utah and Idaho. HAL is providing similar services in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Photo courtesy of City of North Salt Lake.