City of Palm Springs to Save 100 Million Gallons of Water per Year through Sustainability Program, More Efficient Municipal Cogeneration

Nov 13, 2015, 09:00 ET from OpTerra Energy Services

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Nov. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of a multi-year effort to become more sustainable and resilient, the City of Palm Springs held a ribbon cutting for its new, high efficiency municipal energy plant last week. The City worked in partnership with OpTerra Energy Services to design and implement a comprehensive sustainability program that impacts six, well-known locations across the iconic City – from City Hall, to the Palm Springs International Airport, to Palm Canyon Drive. The energy-focused project is aligned with the City's broader vision for meeting climate action goals and provides for over $19.3 million in needed capital renewal projects without using any general funds to implement.


The Cogen Plant that Could
Building off a legacy of excellence, the City of Palm Springs' new, high performing Municipal Cogeneration Energy Plant is a complete retrofit of the previous plant that had operated to serve the City for the past 30 years. Through a combination of new, innovative technology, controls system management, and high efficiency capabilities, the new plant will power six major city facilities using natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and more efficiently meet the City's unique heating and cooling needs year round.

Members of the community and City stakeholders took a tour of the plant during last week's celebration event, getting a unique, interactive experience of the new operation in action. The original Municipal Cogeneration Energy Plant, built in 1985, was a cutting-edge installation at the time, utilizing cogeneration and thermal energy storage. The renovated plant has replaced the two older, 650 kilowatt rich burn engines with one 1,135 kilowatt lean-burn engine.

Coupled with new chillers, cooling towers, and a new state of the art control system, the new plant exceeds past performance to save energy while keeping City services accessible and resilient in the face of changing climate demands. City facilities will perform more efficiently than ever as a result of the new plant, resulting in over $800,000 in reduced energy costs for the City and an additional award of a $512,000 rebate from the SoCal Gas Company.

Focus on Water
Prior to the statewide mandate for water conservation, OpTerra identified and recommended that the City pursue implementation of a centralized irrigation control system with centrally-located weather stations for its parks and other landscaped areas.

There are currently 75 water meters providing irrigation to these popular City spaces – accounting for over 500 million gallons of consumed water per year. Through the installation of smart controllers that automatically update the watering schedule, the City can now adapt water needs as dictated by the actual weather conditions throughout the year.  In addition to smart controllers, existing irrigation heads were fitted with proper nozzles, and inoperative irrigation heads were replaced to provide uniformity of irrigation and prevent leaking issues that were happening throughout the City. These measures are expected to help the City reduce its water use by 20%, saving 100 million gallons of water annually.

Sustainable City, Successful Community
The guiding principal set by the Palm Springs City Council was that their Comprehensive Energy Management Program must be a paid from savings project requiring no capital investment by the City. Embracing this model allows all improvements happening at City facilities to be paid for by the very cost savings that the improved building spaces generate. The new impacts of the program are visible at locations across the Palm Springs community – from the retrofit of the cogen plant to the installation of LED streetlights on Palm Canyon Drive. The City's new Municipal Cogeneration Energy Plant now serves the following City facilities:

  • Palm Springs Airport – 50% of the energy produced at the cogen plant is used by the Airport
  • City Hall
  • Airport Fire Station
  • Palm Springs Police Department
  • City's Operation Center
  • Palm Springs Innovation Hub (CViHub)

The various energy efficiency improvements that have taken shape at Palm Springs have built a foundation for ongoing fiscal stewardship and continued conservation of precious resources in the desert. Generating 95 construction jobs and nearly $2 million in local economic activity through regional labor contracts, the City's Comprehensive Energy Management Program is expected to save over $2.6 million over the lifetime of the program, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 535 passenger cars off Palm Springs roadways.

About OpTerra Energy Services:
OpTerra Energy Services is a national energy company that partners with school districts, cities, counties, and commercial and industrial firms to implement comprehensive sustainability solutions that save money, generate revenue, improve assets, and protect the environment. Learn more at, or contact Lani Wild, Communications Manager, at 415-735-9080.

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SOURCE OpTerra Energy Services