Out West student blog

Solar Energy and State Water (Project) for Social Good

Emily Klingaman inside of a pump turbine at the Delta O&M Pumping Plant in Byron, CA. Image credit: Emily Klingaman

Emily Klingaman ‘22
Hometown: Vienna, VA
Major: Environmental Systems Engineering
Intern, Department of Water Resources

Why did you want to do this internship?

I am fascinated by water resources and the extreme dichotomy of water’s necessity and scarcity across the world. After moving to California, I was confronted by that scarcity in my own backyard--our state is in a severe drought. I wanted to work for the DWR because I want to be working towards California's sustainable water future. I love the idea of being a major player in decision-making, and using my knowledge to make an impact for our future. 

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

This summer, I am furthering the DWR's PARO (Power and Risk Assessment) Branch's work towards SB49. (SB49 is a state senate bill that helps to keep the DWR on track to meet future climate goals. Specifically, the bill says, “to assess opportunities and upgrades to the state water project to help California reach its environmental and climate goals.) We are working to make the SWP's (State Water Project) energy load more compatible with California's load curve by integrating different-sized PV solar farms and battery storage units. Ultimately, we are working to increase renewable energy and decrease the SWP's demand from the grid in order to work towards a zero net energy future. 

Describe one project you will be working on this summer.

This summer, the main project that I am working on is to complete the analyses of multiple pumping plants across the SWP, started and designed by last summer's intern. We are determining the ideal solar capacity to be installed at that pumping plant based on the water demand. We also factor in climate change and grid load. These reports will go into the DWR's report to the state legislature on their progress towards SB49. 

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?

This is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience for my studies. I learn about the technical and social side of water resources in the classroom, but now I am taking part in the creativity we need to solve our sustainability issues. Additionally, this is great exposure to a government work environment, as well as California's water sector as a whole. It is shaping my idea of how I want to impact the world and use my skills after I graduate. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I love to be outside in nature. I have enjoyed having my car and living off-campus this summer because I have been able to explore so many beautiful places within a few hours of campus. Hiking, doing yoga, and going on walks are my favorite things. If I had more time to adventure, I think it would be so cool to get into surfing or rock climbing.


Read more at the Out West Student Blog »

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