SoCal Gas - Water-Energy Nexus Innovation to Implement Natural Gas Based Renewable Energy Strategies


Project Overview

The focus of this project was to integrate the information collected and analyzed from Southern California Gas’ (SCG’s) previous work, incorporate natural gas embedded in water into this effort, and evaluate natural gas in the Water- Energy nexus. This work built on the 2005 California Energy Commission White Paper, California’s Water Energy Relationship, which launched the state’s water-energy initiative.



Project Elements

The potential role of renewable energy projects that combine natural gas- driven equipment with carbon recycling, waste-heat recovery, and renewable energy development was recognized as an important issue, especially for water and wastewater agencies. This work was the first time natural gas was individually evaluated as part of the energy equation in the water-energy relationship for the State of California.

Extensive interviews, data collection and analyses, and evaluations with statewide sources of energy provided an opportunity to highlight existing and future opportunities for solving energy demands and providing energy efficiency solutions. A significant finding was that the most important role of natural gas may lie in bolstering electric reliability while providing a transitional pathway for California’s clean energy future. One of SCG’s major findings was that natural gas is, in fact, being used by the water sector in fairly large quantities, primarily for water pumping. When used during peak periods, natural gas water pumping reduces statewide peak electric demand. Pumping is predominately used for transport and distribution of water to customers – commercial, industrial, and residential.

In addition to using natural gas for pumping:

  • Many water and wastewater agencies use natural gas for distributed generation of electricity – both conventional natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) and dual fuel (biogas and natural gas) systems.
  • Natural gas and biogas are also used by some water and wastewater agencies to produce zero to-low emissions electricity using fuel cells and advanced microturbines.
  • Substantial research and development is presently underway to develop cost effective means for converting wastewater biogas to bio-methane, an important renewable source of pipeline quality gas.
  • Water and wastewater agencies are also helping to advance new technologies that are driving emissions to near- zero levels.

Notably, the opportunity for increasing electric reliability through natural gas applications is not limited to the water sector.


Services Provided

  • Coordinated with the project designer to understand the project construction process and project design elements on-site and in the project vicinity.
  • Conducted research on the existing conditions within the local and regional setting, including hydrology and water quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, land uses, recreational opportunities, transportation facilities, and visual aesthetics.
  • Defined the regulatory requirements for the project, specifically related to hydrology and water quality.
  • Analyzed the potential effects of the project on the existing conditions with an emphasis on the potential impacts to hydrology and water quality in the project vicinity and the receiving waters.
  • Developed mechanical and operational Best Management Practices (BMPs) that addressed construction activities and the long-term physical changes that would occur with implementation of the project.


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