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Taking Part in the Fight Against Climate Change

The Smart City Infrastructure Program for Milpitas

By Rich Tran

Every day we see environmental issues that have taken on a renewed urgency, be it threats from drought, wildfires or other aspects of climate change. As such, the City of Milpitas has come up with a plan to significantly reduce water and energy use through infrastructure efficiency improvements.

A key component of the plan is a Smart City infrastructure program, which is expected to save the city over $1.5 million in energy and water costs per year, for a total savings of more than $30 million over the program’s lifetime. We expect to reduce utility consumption by more than 4.2 million kWh of electricity per year. This is equivalent to the average consumption from 388  households.

Delivered in a partnership with ENGIE North America, the upgrades we make as part of this program will also improve community safety, enhance building comfort and usability and help meet the goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan.

While funding for the initiative comes from a mix of city-issued bonds and public sources—including state incentives and clean energy resiliency funds from Silicon Valley Clean Energy— the water and energy we save will more than pay for the Smart City program.

So how will we get to those savings? The extensive program consists of:

  • Two landmark microgrid projects at the Milpitas Senior Center and Milpitas Community Center, which incorporate a 200 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system and energy storage capabilities, enabling the city to reduce its reliance on energy from the utility at these locations and providing a source of clean backup power
  • 15,600 advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) water meters (aka “smart water meters”) with leak detection, which will reduce water losses across the city
  • 2,185 LED streetlight retrofits and 4,453 streetlight controls upgrades to automatically alert Public Works when a light malfunctions
  • LED lighting upgrades in parks, sports fields, city buildings and community facilities
  • Testing and dosing automation for water, wastewater and stormwater management systems 
  • Touchless, efficient water fixtures in city facilities
  • Electrical vehicle charging stations at the Senior Center

To help us identify the areas where we could save costs and upgrade infrastructure, the Milpitas City Council relied on ENGIE’s assessments as part of the partnership. The ENGIE team found, as one example, that Milpitas could significantly save costs and reduce water use through a citywide retrofit of advanced metering infrastructure. 

By the end of April, new water meters will be installed at all residential, industrial, and commercial buildings in the city. The new meters improve accuracy, allow for remote data collection and enable users to see real-time water use in an online portal which can help Milpitas residents find further opportunities for water savings.

The City of Milpitas is proud of our continued commitment to fiscal and environmental stewardship. This Smart Cities program showcases Milpitas as a responsible and innovative community. In recognition of the innovative approach taken by Milpitas, the city has been honored with a “Smart 50” award from Smart Cities Connect, which recognizes the most innovative and influential Smart City projects from around the world.  

The City of Milpitas is putting its money where its mouth is, taking action toward an environmentally sustainable community. Our residents have real reasons to feel proud as we work together to reduce our energy and water use. As mayor, I’m excited by this effort and look forward to your feedback!

Rich Tran is the Mayor of Milpitas, CA.


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