Carlsbad desalination plan
Chris Stiedemann of Poseidon Water looks over the giant filers that remove microscopic impurities from the seawater. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The San Diego County Water Authority said Tuesday production has been cut back at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant to conserve electricity and prevent rolling blackouts during the statewide heat wave.

The plant operated by Poseidon Water relies on electricity to convert seawater to drinking water, using a lot of power still but less than 1% of the peak energy demand in the San Diego Gas & Electric service area.

Starting Monday, the plant reduced output, making an additional 8 megawatts of power available for other uses. Further load reduction is possible if necessitated by the heat wave.

“This partnership by the Water Authority and Poseidon is another reminder of the value of the cutting-edge technology and local control at the Carlsbad plant,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s board. “Operations are flexible and the technology is nimble, so production can be ramped up and down in response to local needs.”

In addition, the Water Authority is running its Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Facilities to generate up to 40 megawatts of power during peak demand.

The Carlsbad facility is the largest desalination plant in the nation and has produced more than 62 billion gallons of drinking water since it began operation in 2015.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.