The Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s (WRC) Office recently received a $750,000 Energy, Efficiency, and Energy Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The grant funds will be used to make improvements to water and sewage facilities under the jurisdiction of the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, which plans to purchase new pumps, premium-efficiency motors, and other equipment for the Evergreen-Farmington Sewage Disposal System and wellhouses in Highland, Lyon, Oakland, and Oxford townships.
The work is expected to start in the first quarter of this year and be finished by June.
“These much-needed upgrades will provide taxpayers with an estimated energy cost savings of more than $32,000 annually,” said Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John P. McCulloch.
The WRC Office is looking for prime ways of reducing energy usage, especially considering water and sewage systems use a tremendous amount of energy to move sewage from one location to another at all times.
One way to counter this is by using the grant funds to put frequency drives onto pumps and generators throughout the county.
The frequency drives can adjust the energy used depending on the flow going through the system: If the flow is only at 50 percent, the drives will reflect that instead of operating at 100 percent all the time.
“This leads to savings, which is to the rate-payer’s benefit, as the second largest cost the rate-payer faces is the energy cost,” McCulloch said.
The WRC Office is also exploring additional energy saving possibilities by seeking funding for lighting retrofits, additional water system projects in Highland, Lyon, Oakland and Oxford townships, and one additional project at the Walled Lake-Novi Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The total grant awarded to Oakland County by the DOE is $4.8 million — of which $750,000 went to the WRC Office. Another $1 million is earmarked for the Oakland County International Airport; $2.5 million goes to Facilities Management, which will use the funds for energy-efficiency conservation programs, as well as renewable energy installation in government buildings; and $325,000 will go to the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department.