Opportunities for Automated Demand Response in Wastewater Treatment Facilities in California - Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant Case Study

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This report details a study into the demand response potential of a large wastewater treatment facility in San Francisco. Previous research had identified wastewater treatment facilities as good candidates for demand response and automated demand response, and this study was conducted to investigate facility attributes that are conducive to demand response or which hinder its implementation. One years’ worth of operational data were collected from the facility's control system, submetered process equipment, utility electricity demand records, and governmental weather stations. These data were analyzed to determine factors which affected facility power demand and demand response capabilities.

The average baseline demand at the Southeast facility was approximately 4 MW. During the rainy season (October-March) the facility treated 40% more wastewater than the dry season, but demand only increased by 4%. Submetering of the facility's lift pumps and centrifuges predicted load shifts capabilities of 154 kW and 86 kW, respectively, with larger lift pump shifts in the rainy season. Analysis of demand data during maintenance events confirmed the magnitude of these possible load shifts, and indicated other areas of the facility with demand response potential. Load sheds were seen to be possible by shutting down a portion of the facility’s aeration trains (average shed of 132 kW). Load shifts were seen to be possible by shifting operation of centrifuges, the gravity belt thickener, lift pumps, and external pump stations. These load shifts were made possible by the storage capabilities of the facility and of the city’s sewer system. Large load reductions (an average of 2,065 kW) were seen from operating the cogeneration unit, but normal practice is continuous operation, precluding its use for demand response. The study also identified potential demand response opportunities that warrant further study: modulating variable demand aeration loads, shifting operation of sludge-processing equipment besides centrifuges, and utilizing schedulable self-generation.

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