With a series of technology collaborations, Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) has turned its 1,100 MW natural gas-fired Mountainview generation plant in Redlands, CA, into an efficiency and water-saving model.

A pilot project tested at SCE's Mountainview plant has proven to be cheaper to build, less expensive to run, and recovers 90% of the wastewater treated, according to utility officials.

Sylvan Source Inc. (SSI) has completed a pilot test of its SSI Core water treatment system at the SCE facility, which is tied in with the Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI) Water Management Technology program. Sylvan officials bill their developing technology as "platforms that are applicable to a broad range of industrial processing and thermal energy management applications, as well as markets with complicated or challenging water treatment opportunities," such as the SCE gas-fired power plant.

"A lot of good work has been going on at the Mountainview plant in the last couple of years," an SCE spokesperson told NGI. "This project was an effort to test the technology on a real wastewater stream during normal operations, and the technology is showing real promise on the water use and reclamation front."

Mountainview has had recent improvements that have increased its capacity from 1,054 MW to about 1,100 MW -- enough to power about 715,000 homes, the spokesperson said. "Recent improvements done with GE Power and Water have also enabled the plant's six turbines (four gas-fired and two steam-driven) to ramp up and down more quickly in response to the fluctuations of solar and wind power throughout the day."

The turbines also use less gas, and new combustion technology reduced the plant's emissions without the need for additional water in the steam-generation process, the spokesperson said.

If the technology proves to be commercially viable, it could be a major breakthrough not just for utilities, but any industry that treats its wastewater, the utility spokesperson said. "This would be especially valuable in a state like California that is facing an ongoing and historic drought."