Another Step Toward Carbon Neutral

In 2015, the City of Fort Collins, CO, adopted an ambitious Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions in phases, resulting in a carbon-neutral status by 2050. The city’s implementation plans include strategic areas such as energy efficiency, alternative energy adoption, and a focus on land and water use. Interstates was proud to get the city closer to its goal by completing an important update to the Fort Collins Water Treatment Facility.

Project Background

The facility is already a Gold Leader in the Environmental Leadership Program, which recognizes drinking water facilities that go beyond compliance with state and federal regulations and are committed to continual environmental improvement. The Fort Collins Water Treatment Facility installed a new micro-hydroelectric turbine to reduce its total carbon emissions.

The 50-year-old facility is staffed around the clock and, before the project, accounted for 4.5% of the city’s total emissions. “The project’s main goal was to reduce carbon emissions in line with the city’s sustainability program,” says Cameron Louie, Project Manager at Interstates. The installation of the micro-hydro unit proposed to reduce the city’s carbon footprint by an entire percent.

Our Work

The turbine was installed on the facility’s influent water supply. The water spins the micro-hydro unit, generating electricity that is fed back onto the utility grid. Interstates handled the electrical planning and installation by preparing the facility, installing the turbine and control panel, and supplying a primary metering cabinet to facilitate the transition from Xcel Energy to Fort Collins Light & Power.

“The city handled most of the swap-over logistics, but we had to coordinate some shutdowns to get the micro-hydro unit tied into the new utility system,” says Louie. He adds that the coordination with the city and the excellent communication it provides were appreciated.

Differences in utility requirements on the main disconnect caused some design issues, but Louie stated that the project went smoothly overall. “We worked hard to get the correct gear specified and procured,” he said. Interstates teamed up with engineering firms Carollo and Jacobs to correctly specify, procure, and install NEMA-rated equipment to maintain plant standards. “We were able to go back and forth with the engineering firms to adjust the required materials and panels based on the NEMA rating, which saved money on the project,” says Louie.

A Completed Project

The project successfully wrapped up in 2019. “This project had been several years in the making, and the client was really happy with how it turned out,” says Louie. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place with Fort Collins Mayor Pro Tem Kristin Stephens and then-Executive Director of Utilities Kevin Gertig. “Our foreman, Chadrick Burman, also took part in the ceremony, and it was nice to be recognized on this project with a great client,” says Louie.

The City of Fort Collins is a long-standing client of Interstates, and that relationship pays dividends. “The communication with the city is always good and makes projects run smoothly, leaving no gaps or surprises for either party. When everyone is open and forthright with information, it makes things easier and establishes a good working relationship without tension,” says Louie.

With the Water Treatment Facility project complete, Fort Collins is that much closer to achieving its sustainability goals for the future. According to Louie, “The new turbine provides around 20-25% of the facility’s electrical demand and reduces the city’s carbon footprint by 1%, meeting its goal.”


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