The History of Burbank Water and Power

The Development of Electric and Water Services in Burbank


The Providencia Land, Water and Development Company is formed to serve the area which will eventually become the City of Burbank.

1911 The City of Burbank is incorporated.


Burbank sells $20,000 in bonds to purchase the existing electric facilities.  Burbank sells $50,000 in bonds to purchase the existing water facilities from L.C Brand and El Miradero Water Company. The Public Service Department (PSD) begins operations.

1913 The first power is distributed within the limits of the City of Burbank, supplied by the Southern California Edison Company.
1914 The domestic water works system is established.


Additional bonds are approved for building additional electric distribution facilities.  Power was purchased from the Southern California Edison company via McNeil Distributing Station on Chandler Blvd.


In January, when the Charter of the City of Burbank was enacted, the rules and regulations guiding the Public Service Department were developed.  PSD administration is under the direction of the City Manager and the Burbank City Council.


Burbank is one of the first 13 cities to join the Metropolitan Water District (MWD). MWD is destined to become the largest supplier of water in the world.


The City enters into a 50-year contract for energy from Hoover Dam to the extent of 5,109 kilowatts of demand and 25 million kilowatt-hours per year.  At the time, experts thought this was a foolish plan.


Negotiations were completed for the purchase of some of the remaining Edison facilities at a cost of $90,000.


The first power from Hoover Dam is distributed over Burbank’s own lines.


Magnolia No. 1 (10,000 Kilowatts), Burbank’s first steam unit is placed in operation in October.  Magnolia No. 2 (10,000 kilowatts) went into service a year later.
The Santa Monica Feeder is completed with three inter-connections with Burbank’s water system.


Water consumption has increased 520 percent over the last 20 years, while the population has increased only 414 percent, largely as a result of rapid industrial growth during World War II.


The Valley Pumping Plant is constructed.


Magnolia No. 3 steam unit (20,000 kilowatts) is placed in service.


The administration building is completed in July replacing a small wood and stucco building which had been in use for over 27 years.


Magnolia No. 4 steam unit (30,000 Kilowatts) is placed in service.


Reservoir Numbers 4 and 5, with 11 million and 25 million gallon capacity, respectively, are constructed and placed into service.


Burbank citizens approve a charter amendment authorizing a transfer of funds to Burbank’s General Government of two percent of electrical sales for street lighting purposes and five percent of water sales in lieu of taxes.


The Olive Power Plant is constructed and Olive No. 1 steam unit (42,000 kilowatts) is placed into service.


Exchange Agreement for 40 MW of Pacific Northwest Power executed with Bonneville Power Administration.  Necessary for use of DC Intertie.


Magnolia No. 5 gas turbine (17,000 Kilowatts) is placed into service.


Pacific Northwest-Southwest DC Intertie placed in operation.  (Burbank’s share is 56 megawatts.)


Olive No. 3 gas turbine (22,000 kilowatts) is placed into service.


Olive No. 4 gas turbine (31,000 kilowatts) is placed into service.


The Public Service Department Advisory Board is established to assist the City Council in decisions relating to the functions of the Public Service Department.


A major fire burns through the hillside area of Burbank in November.  The roof of Reservoir No. 1 is destroyed and the sidewalls are damaged. The City submits a claim to the Federal Emergency Management Association for financial assistance.


1982 Magnolia No. 1 and Magnolia No. 2 units are retired.


The first 12,470 volt station begins operation (San Jose).  This begins an effort to convert the electric distribution system from 4,160 volts to 12,470 volts.


DC Intertie voltage upgrade from 400kV to 500kV is completed (Burbank’s line capacity is now 70 megawatts).


The first fiber-optics link is installed by PSD to Information Systems.
Local production of groundwater for City domestic use ends in July due to volatile organic compound contamination from local industry run-off.


The Intermountain Power Project is completed.  Burbank’s 67,000 kilowatt share of this 1,600,000 kilowatt coal plant will supply up to 50% of the City’s energy.
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) issues a clean up and abatement order to Lockheed Aeronautical Co. for clean up of various Burbank properties.


A “renewal” agreement is signed with Western Area Power Administration for Hoover Dam power for 5,125 kilowatts of capacity and associated energy.  An “up-rating” agreement is signed for an additional 15,000 kilowatts of Hoover Dam Power, with very little associated energy, which raises the total Hoover entitlement to 20,125 kilowatts by 1993.


25-year Power Sales agreement is signed with Portland General Electric for 10,000 kilowatts of capacity and exchange energy.


Burbank executes a 20-year, 40,000 kW power sales/exchange agreement with Bonneville Power Administration. (Successor to 1968 agreement).


DC Intertie Expansion to 3,100 MW completed (Burbank’s line capacity now 105 MW).
Reservoir No. 1 is rehabilitated and returned to service in June.


The City signs the EPA Consent Decree for groundwater clean up in the Burbank area.


Natural gas pipeline capacity is acquired on the PGT/PG&E Pipeline Expansion Project.
The City signs the EPA Consent Decree for groundwater clean up in the Burbank area.


The new “Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition” (SCADA) system is completed.
The EPA Consent Decree is entered in Los Angeles Federal District Court.


The Granular Activated Carbon Treatment Plant comes on line, treating contaminated groundwater. The system produces approximately 12% of Burbank’s water supply.


PSD completes a revenue bond sale of $17 million for the expansion of electric capital facilities and $10 million for the expansion of domestic and reclaimed water systems.


Natural gas pipeline capacity is acquired on the El Paso Pipeline System.
The City begins construction of the EPA Consent Decree Project, which will include a sixth interconnection to MWD.  The City receives approval for a State Water Reclamation Loan for the expansion of the reclaimed Water System.


The City begins operation of the expanded Reclaimed Water System with service to the De Bell Golf Course and the landfill.


The initial Citywide Fiber Optic System is placed into operation.
The City begins to receive treated groundwater from the EPA groundwater Recovery Treatment Plant under the provisions of the Consent Decree.


The Mead/Phoenix and Mead/Adelanto Transmission Projects placed in operation. Burbank’s share is 35 megawatts & 94 megawatts, respectively.


AB 1890 deregulating California’s electric industry is approved.


Fiber Optic System interconnected with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The City signs the EPA Consent Decree II which will cover the operation and maintenance of the Groundwater Recovery Treatment Plant until the year 2018.


The first electric station is completed that is dual purpose, serving both a major company (Walt Disney) and the surrounding neighborhoods. It is the 12,470-volt, 60 MVA Keystone Distributing Station.


PSD Competitiveness Transition Plan approved by City Council.


Magnolia No. 3 steam units are retired.


2000 Magnolia Power Project is created. A major construction project of the Southern California Public Power Authority, this 310-megawatt combined cycle generating unit will serve the cities of Burbank, Anaheim, Glendale, Pasadena, Cerritos and Colton.


PSD changes its name to Burbank Water and Power.


BWP unveils the world's first commercial landfill power plant using Capstone microturbine technology. Ten microturbines run on naturally occurring landfill gas, producing 300 kilowatts of renewable energy for Burbank.


Lake One, a modern 47 MW peaking unit, is placed in operation.  The import capacity of RSE is more than doubled.


2002 BWP installs two hydro generators at the Valley Pumping Plant. High pressure water is used to run two turbine generators, producing enough renewable electricity annually to run up to 200 Burbank households.


BWP begins an industry first treatment of reclaimed water by installing an innovative Reclaimed Water Treatment System for our on-site power plants. This system produces ultra pure water, displacing all need for potable (drinking) water in BWP power plants.


Magnolia No. 4 and Magnolia No. 5 units are retired.


Upgrade and expansion of the landfill power plants takes place, resulting in total production of 550 kilowatts of energy produced from a renewable resource.