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Water: Sustainable Infrastructure

Cutting Energy Usage & Costs


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Energy Management

green energyImproving energy efficiency is an ongoing challenge for water sector utilities. While energy costs often represent 25-30% of a utility's total operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, they also represent the largest controllable cost of providing water and wastewater services. Since 2008, EPA has been working with utilities to sustainably manage and reduce costs, based on the steps described in its Energy Management Handbook for Wastewater and Water Utilities. The Handbook takes utilities through a series of steps to analyze their current energy usage, uses energy audits to identify opportunities to improve their efficiency, and measures the effectiveness of energy projects. EPA's Regional offices are working with over 150 utilities around the country to help develop energy management programs based on the Guidebook and are developing case studies and other information to demonstrate the benefits that utilities are seeing.

Best Energy Practices

Once you know your baseline energy use and where you are consuming the most energy, you can identify and prioritize energy conservation opportunities. These opportunities are often easily achievable and involve implementation of best industry practices for energy management.

Case Studies


  • EPA's Office of Water is conducting a series of energy management workshops around the country to help water sector utilities develop energy management programs using EPA's Energy Management Guide for Wastewater and Water Utilities. For details on these workshops, please see EPA's Final Energy Management Highlight Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 164KB).
  • The ENERGY STAR programExit EPA Disclaimer recently added wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities to the suite of facilities addressed under its Portfolio ManagerExit EPA Disclaimer, an interactive energy management tool that can be used to track and assess energy and water consumption. The tool can help a utility set targets for investment priorities, verify efficiency improvements, and calculate its carbon footprint. ENERGY STAR offers free online training to help get you started.

Paying for Energy Efficiency Improvements

  • EPA's Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds serve as an important source of financing for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Equipment upgrades to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use are eligible for funding from these programs.
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)Exit EPA Disclaimer DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. DSIRE provides information about energy incentives, tools and resources in each state.
  • U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)Exit EPA Disclaimer This FEMP web page provides information on incentives, by state, regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
  • California Energy Commission's Energy Efficiency Project Management Handbook: How to Hire an Energy Services Company (PDF) (60pp, 504 KB) Exit EPA Disclaimer

State Efforts to Promote Energy Efficiency

States are beginning to develop programs to assist public water systems and wastewater treatment facilities to better manage their energy use.

  • Massachusetts—Energy Management Pilot for Wastewater and Drinking Water PlantsExit EPA Disclaimer
  • Wisconsin—The Energy Center of Wisconsin developed a report that examined energy use at drinking water facilities, which included information on steps that facilities can take to reduce their energy use. The state public service commission has a link to the final report.Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • New York—The New York State Energy Research and Development AuthorityExit EPA Disclaimer offers financial assistance to municipalities to identify opportunities and install new equipment for energy efficiency upgrades in their water and wastewater treatment facilities. Some projects include benchmarking of energy performance, 50:50 cost shares for energy assessments by pre-qualified consultants, and the installation of sub-metering equipment to determine the energy consumption of the various processes within the facility.
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