Moulton Niguel Water District will test new ways to save money and reduce energy consumption with a new pilot project that could become a statewide model for meeting California’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Moulton Niguel LogoOver the next three and a half years, Moulton Niguel will work with world-renowned scientists and engineers at UC Davis’ Center for Water and Energy Efficiency to optimize the water district’s energy use and reduce operating costs — while continuing to meet every customer’s water needs.

“At Moulton Niguel, we’re constantly identifying new ways to save our ratepayers money and reduce our carbon footprint,” explains Joone Lopez, general manager at Moulton Niguel Water District. “The energy experts at CWEE are brilliant at finding new ways to be more efficient. With their help, we hope to be the model for the entire state.”

The $3.1 million project, which is funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission, will use real-time energy analytics to develop an energy management system that adapts to changing energy demands and different energy rate structures for Moulton Niguel’s potable and recycled water systems. As sophisticated as the energy management system is, the plan is simple: when energy rates are lower, Moulton Niguel will pump more water, and as rates rise, the district plans to cut back its power consumption.

“If adopted widely by urban water systems in California, the reduced strain on the grid during peak hours could be reduced significantly, leading to more reliable electricity at lower costs to consumers,” said Frank Loge, faculty director of CWEE, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and principal investigator on the grant.

UC Davis CWEEIn September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Water utilities, which require large amounts of power at every step of the water cycle, could be instrumental in reaching those emissions reduction goals. Roughly 20% of California’s electricity and more than 30% of its natural gas goes to the water system – from pumping it for delivery to disposing of wastewater.

Moulton Niguel Water District spends approximately $2 million per year to power its water services for 170,000 customers in South Orange County. CWEE scientists and engineers will combine water system hydraulic modeling with a software platform to create a demand management system to reduce Moulton Niguel’s energy consumption.

If successful, the pilot program could help balance the electrical grid’s intermittent distribution of renewable energy, while providing substantial savings to ratepayers. The project will receive additional support from Helio Energy Solutions and Southern California Edison.

Moulton Niguel Water District delivers high-quality drinking water to customers in Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, and Dana Point. A leader in conservation and environmental protection, Moulton Niguel maintains the lowest average bill in South Orange County.