Energy is a significant operating expense for RD 108. Water and recycled water enters and leaves the District through the pumping facilities along the Sacramento River. The District is very efficient in its water use and operates an extensive water recycling system that encompasses four pumping plants that recycle approximately 50,000 acre-feet annually with Sycamore Slough being the largest. Water draining from the fields is captured in the system and reapplied to the fields for irrigation.
The solar generation facility sits on seven acres adjacent to the Sycamore Slough Pump Station. The panels operate on a dual axis tracking system to follow the sun as it moves throughout the day to optimize energy production. The tracking system is also designed to meet minimum flood requirements by raising the solar panels 15 feet in the event of a flood.
The potential for cost savings first attracted the District to the solar project. As energy prices continue to rise, the solar facility provides affordable renewable energy for today and years to come. The money savings are passed along to the farmers in the District.
The project is part of a net energy metering program that allows the District to balance energy production and usage on an annual basis. PG&E calculates the amount of energy the District consumed and credits the District with the total amount of energy produced at the solar facility. At the end of the year, the District will only pay the difference from the amount of energy used and amount of energy produced.
The total project cost was $3.4 million, not including a $1.5 million rebate the District received for PG&E. The exact cost savings from the project will fluctuate with PG&E’s changing rates, but the District calculated that when the PG&E rates increase by 2.5 percent annually, the project will result in a 10 percent savings.
The solar generation facility produces clean renewable energy that reduces impacts to the environment. The solar facility continues the Reclamation District No. 108 commitment to serve its water users in a reliable, economic and environmentally sound manner.