$15 million dollar grant to fund Delta-Mendota solar energy project – ttownmedia.com

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The giant water canals that snake their way through the Patterson area may soon be generating energy in a new way. The San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority has been awarded a $15 million-dollar federal grant to test out floating solar panels.

Del Puerto Water District General Manager Anthea Hansen was at the ceremony last week when the grant was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom. She says the canal systems in and around Patterson could see a number of benefits if this experiment proves to be viable.

“The solar panels could help prevent evaporation which would conserve water,” said Hansen. “Also having clean energy produced by both state and federal water projects can help lower the costs of energy that the users of water have to pay for. For example, if the Central Valley Project is not able to generate enough energy through our hydropower system to meet the demands that we have from our pumping plants and our reservoirs, then we have to buy energy on the grid. Ultimately, it’s the water users that pay for the cost of that energy.”

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The Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project will span five years and involve multiple phases, including site selection, engineering, construction, operation, and maintenance. The project will assess the viability of floating solar arrays, optimal tethering, and power connection options, the potential for reduced evaporation and algal growth, and potential recommendations for operation and maintenance requirements.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which provided the $15 million grant, will be a collaborator in this huge endeavor. Also, the University of California, Merced, will help collect and analyze data. UCM is already doing the same thing for a similar project in Turlock which is getting its money from the state.

The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority was established in January of 1992 and consists of 27 member agencies within the western San Joaquin, San Benito, and Santa Clara Valleys, that provide water service to approximately 1,200,000 acres of irrigated agriculture, 2.5 million people, including many living in economically disadvantaged communities, and 130,000 acres of managed wetlands of importance to the Pacific Flyway.

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