IRVINE, Calif.—The Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) and Poseidon Water, a seawater desalination developer, will work toward creating a desalination project powered 100 percent by renewable energy—the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, officials announced on Feb. 22.
“Today, we’re bringing together the wind, the sun, the sea, and the warmth of Mother Earth to create life-sustaining water for our drought-stricken communities,” Orange County Power Authority CEO Brian Probolsky said during the press conference.
Officials of the power authority and Poseidon signed a memorandum of understanding, a non-binding agreement with tentative plans for the developer to look into the feasibility of powering the planned desalination plant only and completely with renewable energy.
The proposed desalination project in Huntington Beach, owned by Poseidon Water, would use an estimated 19 gigawatts per month, making it one of Orange County’s largest energy users.
“Poseidon Water’s desalination project is already guaranteed to have zero carbon footprint through the state’s carbon offset program,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey, who is also a board member of the power authority. “Being powered by completely renewable energy would further enhance the facility’s environmental sustainability and the commitment made to Huntington Beach to be good stewards of the environment.”
Aside from being powered on renewable energy, officials said that the project will guarantee the protection and preservation of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and create thousands of new jobs.
The Orange County Power Authority is a community choice energy program launched in early 2021 that buys and sells energy to serve its member cities, which traditionally rely on Southern California Edison, an electricity company that serves most of Southern California.
The authority at first promised lower rates for cleaner power, yet later determined the price of energy—for 100 percent renewable—to be 5.6 percent higher than the rates currently provided by Edison, which offers electricity with 39 percent renewable energy.
So far, four cities have joined the community choice energy program, including Buena Park, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, and Irvine.
Huntington Beach recently voted to increase the proportion of renewable energy to 100 percent for electricity provided by the power authority—which starts in April for businesses and October for households—for an increased rate, but an option to opt-out and go back to Edison is available for both residential and business consumers.