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Businesses Learn Saving Water Saves the Environment — and Electricity

SCE helps businesses use water more wisely and efficiently to help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals and reduce demand on the power grid.

What could saving water possibly have to do with reducing your electric bill? Ask Paul DiMaggio, water production manager at Suburban Water Systems, and he will point you to the utility’s Well 201 W7.

Suburban, based in the eastern Los Angeles County area, has been using Southern California Edison’s free pump testing service since the 1950s to test its 19 active wells and 90-plus booster pumps to ensure they are operating efficiently. When the report on Well 201 W7 came back recently, the news was not good. It was operating at 56.5 percent efficiency.

SCE will host a second Water Conference on Nov. 2 in Tulare, where the program will focus on savings for agricultural uses.

After removing the pump, cleaning the screens and replacing some worn parts, Suburban improved the well’s efficiency to 71.5 percent. In the process, the water company reduced the well’s electricity use by 345,586 kilowatt-hours annually, enough to power about 32 average homes a year.

Combined with SCE’s nearly $38,000 in financial incentives to offset Suburban’s capital outlay, the water company reduced its overall annual costs by more than $159,000 — for just that one well.

SCE Water Conference Irwindale
Paul DiMaggio of Suburban Water Systems talked about SCE's free pump testing program and its cost reductions.

“Anybody that’s not using the pump testing program should use it,” DiMaggio said. “The program could help you reduce your energy costs and potentially help you save money.”

DiMaggio told Suburban’s story at SCE’s 24th annual Water Conference in Irwindale earlier this month. The conference for SCE’s business customers highlights key challenges affecting the water sector and ways to help improve efficiency and save money.

SCE began hosting the conference in the 1990s because of the growing link between water and energy conservation and the environment. About 20 percent of California’s total electricity usage involves the pumping and treatment of water.

“Electric utilities in California have a strong focus on the energy-water nexus,” said Mike Marelli, vice president of SCE’s Business Customer Division. “Achieving a clean energy future will require increasing levels of cooperation in order to optimize both energy and water infrastructure.”

Many of the 450 conference attendees, like Bertha Ruiz-Hoffman of the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department, came just to learn how they could achieve energy efficiency.

“The department has huge energy and water use,” she said. “We are still trying to get into pump efficiency.”

Ruiz-Hoffman’s colleague, Alex Mena, was also interested in the potential for environmental savings.

“I want to know how we can measure the embedded greenhouse gas savings,” he said.

Robert Schearer, an electrical engineer, said he is always looking for new ways to convince his clients there’s real money to be saved by using SCE’s programs.

“The energy savings are real,” he said.