Economic Analyses of the Seadrift Wind-Aided Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations

Ange H. Abena Mbarga, Ken Rainwater, Lianfa Song, Theodore Cleveland, W. Ross Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seadrift is a city located on the Texas Gulf Coast with a population of 1,364 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census. In 2012, the city started operating a $610,878 wind turbine, dedicated to its wastewater treatment plant. The city contributed only 3% of the funds for the project, with the balance from state agencies or the state of Texas. The city hoped to save $25,500 yearly using wind energy to displace some of the plant’s electrical demand. The plant’s average load is 0.05 million gallons per day, requiring 236,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh; 8.05x108 British thermal units [BTU]) yearly. From 2012 to 2015, Seadrift saved $15,928 per year, with yearly wind energy production of 155,738 kWh (5.31x108 BTU) and net present value of $211,493 at the city level. Yet, the project’s applicability to other locations is limited. Indeed, when considering the project’s total cost and return, the economic results, driven by a lower than predicted wind speed, are negative. Still, the study serves as a valuable tool to aid government agencies and rural communities in devising alternative and sustainable solutions to water-energy nexus challenges in Texas and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-57
Number of pages16
JournalTexas Water Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Renewable energy
  • Wastewater
  • Water
  • Water-energy nexus
  • Wind energy


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