Telluride Saves Nearly $50,000 per Year with Energy Upgrades

TELLURIDE, Colo. – The Town of Telluride, Colo. has made a series of energy efficiency upgrades to the water and wastewater treatment facilities that are saving nearly $50,000 per year, with new improvements set to provide even more savings when completed. Improvements include motor capacitors, geothermal heating and cooling, solar power and micro hydroelectric power generation.

One of the simplest improvements was by improving the sizing and location of the wastewater plant’s motor capacitors.

“At the time, I did not know what the big grey boxes above the electrical buckets were,” said Bill Goldsworthy, Telluride Plant Superintendent “I found out they were generically-sized capacitors, which make it easier to start motors no matter how large or small. Every plant has them, the question is, are they the right size and are they located as close to the load as possible.”

Telluride contracted a company to replace the large, generic capacitors in a single location to properly-sized capacitors located near the motors they would supply. The work was done without interrupting the plant operation.

“They did this without starting and stopping motors,” Goldsworthy said.  “I wouldn’t have known they were there.”

The upgrade saved enough to payback its cost in the first year.

In 2006, Telluride investigated the possibility of heating the aerobic digesters in the wastewater plant to solve settling issues during cold months. An inspection revealed that heating was not a solution for the digesters, but the plant could convert to a geothermal heating system that would provide significant savings over the current, natural gas heating.

At the time, Telluride was spending $45,000 per year on heating. That amount heated both the wastewater plant and the town dog pound, including rooms in the treatment plant that required the air to be exchanged several times per hour. The town installed a closed-loop heat exchange system that used the wastewater plant effluent as a heat source when there was cold weather and a heat sink when hot.

The heating costs of the plant have decreased from $45,000 to $10,000.

Telluride has also installed 112 kw of solar power generation over the wastewater facility’s three oxidation ditches. The town also used the 1,000-foot elevation of their new water treatment facility to install a micro hydroelectric generation station that will produce 320 kw when completed.

These improvements will be discussed as part of a webinar, Innovative Energy Saving Strategies for Utility Systems, held at 2 p.m. CDT on Aug. 24. Those interested in hearing the presentation can Register Here or watch the live stream on the NRWA Facebook Page.