Bloomington backup power

Outcomes and Conclusions

Over the past 20+ years, Bloomington has installed three backup power systems on existing systems and built an additional five systems in conjunction with new plant upgrades. They have also added seven generators at their wastewater lift stations. The backup power systems automatically switch on when power is lost, which has occurred several times throughout the years. Coupled with redundant water lines, Bloomington has not seen any disruptions in water to critical infrastructure, such as the local hospital.

Bloomington is continuing to improve upon and upgrade its backup power systems. Recently, the City determined that the 12 million gallons per day they originally planned for is not enough. Bloomington is in the process of designing an upgrade to increase capacity to 24 million gallons per day. Bloomington is also installing solar where possible to reduce the amount of diesel fuel used.

At the wastewater treatment plant, the backup power system only has enough power to pump water through the plant. Bloomington wants to add capacity so that the facility can also treat water during a power outage. Since this requires much more power, a permanent generator would be cost-prohibitive. Instead, Bloomington is installing a connection for a drive-up plug-in generator. Bloomington plans to establish a contract with a supplier that will guarantee to hook up a generator within a set amount of time.


The biggest challenge for installing the backup power systems is the cost of installation and the costs of running them during an outage. The City of Bloomington has found the topic of resilience to be useful for showing how crucial the systems are for the community.

Brad Schroder, an engineer with the City of Bloomington, gave the following advice:

“What has helped us in getting these systems online is talking about resiliency and really explaining how the backup power can help us achieve it for our community. With resilience, we need to look ahead to what our needs are going to be down the road and make sure we are planning for them.”

Questions for discussion

These questions are designed to inspire readers—especially those wanting to learn broadly about climate change solutions—to think critically about the case study on this page and encourage deeper, more meaningful conversations. A list of ERIT case studies that include discussion questions can be found on the Resilient Communities Case Studies page. 

  1. How might climate change and population change affect the future of the city’s emergency water service needs? 
  2. If you were at a town hall meeting, how might you support or justify the city’s expenditures for these backup systems? 
  3. What are some ways that equity and justice could be linked to the resilience of the water supply system? 

Project Resources

For more information about Bloomington's backup power systems, contact:

Brad Schroder
City of Bloomington