Wastewater Treatment Plants Ideal Home to Solar, Reduces Utility’s Overall Carbon Footprint

Established in 1918, WSSC is among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation servicing 1.8 million residents in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. With a network of nearly 5,600 miles of fresh water pipeline and more than 5,400 miles of sewer pipeline, WSSC wanted a source of renewable energy that could contribute to its sustainability goals while making good business sense and adding value for their ratepayers.

Standard Solar designed and installed the combined 5 megawatt systems at WSSC’s wastewater treatment plants, which clean and treat used water and sewage and safely return clean water to the environment. Together, the solar arrays at the two plants are expected to generate approximately 6.6 million kWh of solar energy each year. Solar power will provide 12 to 21 percent of the electricity required to operate the two plants, saving ratepayers approximately $3.5 million over the life of the agreement. The systems will also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions equal to avoiding the use of approximately 358,680 gallons of gasoline each year.

Public-Private Partnership Win-Win for All

WSSC pays only for the solar power it uses. WSSC officials say they expect to save $3.5 million total in electricity costs over the 20 years and cut the two plants’ annual carbon dioxide emissions by 3,200 metric tons — described as the equivalent of taking 665 cars off the road.

“This public-private partnership with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission will improve our environment not only by ensuring the cleanliness of local waters, but also by generating emissions-free solar energy to run operations,” said Washington Gas Energy Systems.