How Sustainable Pipes are Energizing Hillsboro, Oregon


  • Mayor Steve Callaway
October 27, 2020 - (3 min read)

The City of Hillsboro, Oregon is excited to be the first in the United States to install a new form of renewable energy into our city’s infrastructure. The Hillsboro In-Pipe Hydroelectric Project uses In-PRVTM, a new smart water and micro-hydro system installed inside our water pipeline that then generates electricity by harvesting excess pressure from the inside of the pipe.

With the help of our partners —  Energy Trust of Oregon, Portland General Electric (PGE), and InPipe Energy — we are using this practical new form of renewable energy that will help us continue to meet our climate action goals. We seek to build resilience in our city, one of more than 103,000 residents and businesses such as Intel, Genentech, and Nike.

How It Works

Water agencies use control valves to manage pressure in their water pipelines — this helps protect the pipeline from leaks and delivers water to customers at a safe pressure. These control valves normally burn off excess pressure as heat. InPipe Energy’s In-PRV pressure recovery system performs like a highly precise control valve, but it takes the process one step further by turning the excess pressure (that would be otherwise wasted) into a new source of carbon-free electricity.

This new form of renewable energy — in-pipe hydropower — has previously been used in large-scale projects. In-PRV is the first system that combines software, micro-hydro, and control technology as a turnkey product. It can be installed quickly, easily and cost-effectively throughout water systems with smaller-diameter pipelines and wherever pressure must be reduced.

How It Helps Our Community

The In-PRV will generate up to 200,000 kWh of electricity per year that will help power the lighting, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and concessions at Hillsboro’s Gordon Faber Recreation Complex, which includes Ron Tonkin Field – home of the Hillsboro Hops minor league baseball team and Hillsboro Stadium – home of Portland State University football and soccer. This technological innovation will provide pressure management that helps save water and extend the life of the pipeline, while reducing more than 162,000 pounds of carbon annually — that equates to more than 240,000 driven miles off the road every year.

The total budget for the hydropower project is about $509,000. The City received two renewable energy production grants from PGE and Oregon Energy Trust that covered about 70% of the project. The City is covering the balance for this investment, and we estimate the payback timeline is between two to three years in saved energy costs. After that, the project will begin to help save the City’s water ratepayers money in energy costs.

Visit the City of Hillsboro website

Find more info about the city and its renewable energy project.

About the Author

Mayor Steve Callaway

About the Author

Mayor Steve Callaway was elected to the City Council in November 2010, re-elected in 2014, and most recently elected as Mayor in 2016.