City to create energy from water pressure

Mayor Gavin Newsom offered a thumbs-up today regarding a plan to build a 200-kilowatt hydroelectric plant at a Portola District reservoir.

The project is the first in San Francisco to generate clean energy from excess, previously untapped water pressure in The City’s water distribution system, the Mayor’s Office said in a release.

The plant will be built at the University Mound Reservoir, which provides drinking water to eastern districts of The City including the Marina, South of Market and Treasure and Yerba Buena islands, it said.

The reservoir is currently undergoing a major seismic retrofit.

Energy from water pressure will essentially derive from good ole gravity, which causes water to flow through two pipes into University Mound’s two reservoir basins, the mayor’s statement said.

“Excess water pressure exists in these two flow lines, beyond what is needed to reliably and safely deliver the water into the reservoir basins,” it said.

The hydroelectric plant is slated to operate in 2012, initially producing electricity at 10 cents per kilowatt/hour, the Mayor’s Office said.
 
“However, after financing of the project is paid off, the plant will be capable of producing energy at roughly 3-to-4 cents per kilowatt/hour, making the project an invaluable investment from an energy-cost perspective,” it said.

It will be funded with $2.5 million-worth of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds awarded recently to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Newsom’s office said.

The mayor, who hasn’t been chatting directly with the media lately, offered this comment in a press release:

“Small hydro-electric projects like this are affordable, neighborhood-friendly and represent simple but creative engineering at its best.”

 

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