Opportunities for Automated Demand Response in California Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Publication Type


Date Published


LBNL Report Number



Previous research over a period of six years has identified wastewater treatment facilities as good candidates for demand response (DR), automated demand response (Auto-DR), and Energy Efficiency (EE) measures. This report summarizes that work, including the characteristics of wastewater treatment facilities, the nature of the wastewater stream, energy used and demand, as well as details of the wastewater treatment process. It also discusses control systems and automated demand response opportunities.

Furthermore, this report summarizes the DR potential of three wastewater treatment facilities. In particular, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has collected data at these facilities from control systems, submetered process equipment, utility electricity demand records, and governmental weather stations. The collected data were then used to generate a summary of wastewater power demand, factors affecting that demand, and demand response capabilities. These case studies show that facilities that have implemented energy efficiency measures and that have centralized control systems are well suited to shed or shift electrical loads in response to financial incentives, utility bill savings, and/or opportunities to enhance reliability of service.

In summary, municipal wastewater treatment energy demand in California is large, and energy-intensive equipment offers significant potential for automated demand response. In particular, large load reductions were achieved by targeting effluent pumps and centrifuges. One of the limiting factors to implementing demand response is the reaction of effluent turbidity to reduced aeration at an earlier stage of the process. Another limiting factor is that cogeneration capabilities of municipal facilities, including existing power purchase agreements and utility receptiveness to purchasing electricity from cogeneration facilities, limit a facility's potential to participate in other DR activities.

Year of Publication