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The Victor Valley Pioneers Eco-friendly Developments

The Victor Valley leads the way with a sustainable approach to renewable resources and water conservation.

By John McBryde on May 22, 2015

With plenty of sunshine and a need to conserve water, the Victor Valley is pioneering sustainable approaches to managing natural resources for the future. In Southern California, water management is a top priority, and the Mojave Water Agency (MWA) is enhancing sustainability in this area with its Regional Recharge and Recovery project. The $54 million R3 project delivers water from the California Aqueduct in Hesperia to area recharge sites to replenish the drinking water supply. The project began pumping water in 2013, with the first delivery to the city of Victorville. The city was able to virtually eliminate use of its treatment plants, reducing water treatment costs and balancing demand on the aquifer.

“It was designed around our needs as defined by a coalition of diverse stakeholders, and they wanted a comprehensive water supply project that would provide a drought-proof and sustainable water supply to the entire region,” says Kirby Brill, general manager.

Overall, MWA has spent more than $160 million on capital projects in its 490,000-square-mile area, and expects to invest an additional $4.9 million over the next five years. To gather data on water sources and demand, the agency uses aerial photos made with multispectral and infrared cameras that can accurately measure the presence and flow of water on the surface and below. That data can pinpoint water use and guide decisions on finding new sources and managing consumption.

MWA also encourages water conservation through the Cash for Grass program, which offers 50 cents per square foot for turf removed from residences, and is stepping up incentives for commercial/industrial projects with new offer of $1 per square foot of turf removed. Area utilities are also providing incentives for energy efficiency through rebates for homeowners and commercial customers. Southwest Gas offers consumers rebates on certain home upgrades, such as tankless water heaters and certain types of cooking appliances. Southern California Edison also offers rebates on qualifying appliance purchases, as well as whole-home upgrades, including insulation and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.

Relying on Renewables

Solar and wind projects continue to thrive in the region, including one completed in 2014 by sPower in Victorville, which will generate enough solar energy to power more than 4,000 homes per year. Local governments welcome well-planned renewable energy projects that respect the local community.

“We recognize the economic progress they bring, and we look for the right projects in the right location,” says Robert Lovingood, 1st district supervisor of San Bernardino County. “We evaluate projects on their individual merit and where they will lie in the communities.”

sPower has broken ground on another project in Victorville, an 8.3 MW solar power project, under a program to promote wholesale distributed power generation to support the electrical grid. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Adelanto Solar Project provides 10 MW of power in the Mojave Desert to meet the needs of 3,300 homes a year for up to 25 years. In Victorville, a power plant that features a unique hybrid of natural gas and solar parabolic mirror technology generates electrical output of 570 MW. In Hesperia, a SunEdison’s 1.7 MW rooftop solar project will provide energy for 20 years via a power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison from solar panels mounted on a leased rooftop.

Biogas is another resource that’s been given new sustainable use in the region. In 2014, Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority opened the Omnivore Biogas Renewable Energy Project. Biogas produced from food waste and sewage powers the plant, while diverting tons of garbage from landfills. It’s the first of its kind in the United States and the second anywhere, according to general manager Logan Olds. The only other one in operation is in Denmark.

“We will make 100 percent of the energy we need,” Olds says. “The project will save about $9 million over the term of the project, which we were able to do by entering into a power purchase agreement with a private firm.”

Read about more developments in the Victor Valley region.

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