WSSC energy manager receives environmental award

February 26, 2014

WSSC’s production team energy manager Rob Taylor walks among some of 13 acres of solar panels that face south and that supply 21 percent of the electrical usage of the company, Dec. 17, 2013, in Germantown, Md. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

A top energy official for suburban Maryland’s water and sewer utility has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for increasing the utility’s use of wind and solar power and reducing greenhouse gases, utility officials said.

Robert Taylor received the Individual Leadership Award on Tuesday at the EPA’s national Climate Leadership Awards ceremony in San Diego. Taylor is the energy manager for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), which provides water and sewer services to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Taylor was recognized for his work in helping WSSC use wind power for about 30 percent of its electricity consumption and overseeing the utility’s recent installation of solar power systems at two of its wastewater treatment plants. The solar panels will provide an average of 17 percent of the plants’ electricity needs and save rate payers about $3.5 million over 20 years, WSSC officials said.

WSSC is one of several utilities in the Washington area exploring alternative energy options because utilities guzzle electricity to keep enormous pumps, centrifuges and other equipment running around-the-clock. Those energy costs can fluctuate dramatically, putting pressure on operating budgets, utility officials say.

Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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