Location:     EPA Region 9, Contra Costa County,
                                                                       Richmond, CA
                                                          Property Size:  10 acres
                                                          Site Ownership: West County Wastewater District
Success Stories -  Siting Renewable  Energy  on  Contaminated Land
West County Wastewater District, Richmond, California
Innovative Solar Technology Turns Unusable Land into Power Generating Property
Site Description
The 10-acre site incorporates a storm water detention basin, and is part of a
wastewater treatment facility located outside Richmond, California, near San
Pablo Bay and San Francisco Bay. The West Contra Costa County
Wastewater District (WCWD) treatment facility, covering 16 square miles,
provides wastewater collection and treatment for a population of over
120,000 in neighboring communities and local government facilities. In
addition to treatment facilities, the WCWD site houses offices, classrooms
and laboratories.
Property History
WCWD is responsible for wastewater treatment, sludge
handling and disposal, and water outfall to San Francisco
Bay. The storm water detention basin—spanning a little
over three acres—was previously used as a sludge-drying
pond. The basin's former use and unstable soil renders it
inadequate for redevelopment. Presently, the basin is used
to collect and hold storm water, which is cycled back to
the  plant for treatment and release. Wastewater undergoes
primary and secondary treatment at the plant, including
activated sludge, secondary clarification, and chlorination
before discharge into the bay.
Renewable  Energy Development
WCWD collaborated with Premier Power and Solar Power
Partners, Inc. (SPP Inc.) to develop a photovoltaic (PV)
electrical production system for its energy-intensive
wastewater treatment plant. Premier  Power,  a solar power
systems provider, contracted to build the one megawatt
(MW) PV system. Acting as the managing design and
construction lead, Solar Power Partners directed Premier
Power throughout the construction of the PV system.
The system includes over 11,000 solar panels on state-of-
the-art single axis tracker technology spanning  10 acres.
Placing part of the PV system on the basin was
challenging to construct, but prevents the development of
green space in other parts of the facility. Using innovative
engineering  solutions, Premier Power designed the 45 feet
by 45 feet arrays using concrete platforms specifically designed to distribute their weight, minimizing disturbance
of unstable, marshy soil  in the storm water basin.
Through a power purchase agreement between WCWD and SPP Inc., WCWD will purchase energy annually at a
fixed price over the next 20 years, providing a cost-saving hedge against rising energy costs. To mitigate the
project cost, WCWD utilized the Self Generation Incentive Program offered by Pacific Gas & Electric Company
(PG&E). PG&E created the initiative to encourage customers to install certain types of distributed generation
facilities to meet all or a portion of their energy needs. The PV system, estimated to produce 30% of the
wastewater facility's electricity needs, is currently powering the plant's boilers and equipment. By siting the solar
project on the basin, WCWD is able  to take  advantage of the land for dual purposes, saving three acres of green
space, and offsetting the release of 1,341 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
                                                                       Storm water collection pond
                                                                       Wastewater sludge
                                                                       Not EPA-tracked
                                                                       Solar PV
                                                                       $8.3 Million (estimated)
                                                                       Premier Power; Solar Power Partners, Inc.;
                                                                       Pacific Gas & Electric
                                                          Current Status: Complete and operational
Site Use:
Project Type:
Type of RE:
Project Cost:
Key Partners:
                                                         PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS:
                                                             1 MW solar PV system will generate 30% of urban
                                                             wastewater treatment facility's electricity needs.
                                                             Specially designed concrete platforms stabilize solar
                                                             arrays, minimizing disturbance of unstable soil in former
                                                             sludge beds.
                                                             Project preserves green space and puts land to dual
                                                             purpose: Storm water treatment and energy generation.
                                          CONTACT: Sierra Fong, Solar Power Partners: (415) 877-1455. SFong@solarpowerpartners.com
                                                       Rita Edwards, Premier Power: (415) 877-1455. redwards@premierpower.com

                                  To learn more siting renewable energy on contaminated land, visit: www.epa.gov/renewableenergyland