Solar, Storage

Renewable Energy Adopted by Two Post Offices

Two large U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail-processing centers in California are now home to major energy-efficiency improvements with the completion of a unique hybrid alternative power plant — combining two solar technologies and hydrogen fuel cell generation — announced by Chevron Corp.

Chevron Energy Solutions, a Chevron subsidiary, developed, engineered and constructed the new energy management upgrades. At the 680,000-square-foot facility Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC), Chevron Energy Solutions installed a hybrid solar/fuel cell power plant composed of a 250-kW Direct FuelCell that generates electricity from hydrogen produced internally from natural gas; 185 kW of crystalline-silicon solar panels mounted on a PowerLight parking canopy that tracks the sun; and 100 kW of flexible, amorphous-silicon, roof-mounted Uni-Solar solar panels. The improvements at both facilities will lower total annual electricity purchases by $1.2 million or 10 million kilowatt hours (kWh) — a 46 percent reduction. In addition, the energy-efficient equipment will reduce the P&DC’s and Embarcadero Postal Center’s (EPC) heating needs by 69 percent and 28 percent, respectively. In total, these improvements translate to a reduction in local electric utility emissions of about 6,600 tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of planting about 1,860 acres of trees. “This project demonstrates the value of combining energy efficiency and clean energy technology,” said Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions (CES). “The savings created by new, efficient equipment at these facilities are helping to pay for clean, alternative energy — solar and hydrogen fuel cell power. We commend the Postal Service for implementing a comprehensive, cost-effective solution that meets operating needs, improves the employees’ work space and benefits the environment.” Together, the mail facilities — the P&DC and EPC — comprise 1.2 million square feet, employ about 3,000 people and process 7.5 million pieces of mail daily, operating around the clock. The USPS is the largest employer in San Francisco’s Bay View/Hunter’s Point district, where the P&DC is located. The $15 million cost of the project is wholly funded by $8.3 million in energy savings, $4 million from the USPS’s CFC refrigerant replacement program, and nearly $2.6 million in grants and incentives from the state of California and the U.S. Department of Defense Climate Change Fuel Cell Program. Further the P&DC was presented with a rebate check for $2.3 million by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which administers incentive programs for self-generation and efficiency improvements in Northern and Central California. The San Francisco project is part of a larger USPS contract with Chevron Energy Solutions to install energy-efficiency improvements at mail facilities throughout Northern California. CES recently completed improvements at the USPS processing facility in West Sacramento and is upgrading facilities in Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Stockton, Salinas and other Northern California locations. Together, these improvements will save the USPS more than $2 million per year in energy costs. In addition, CES has installed improvements at the USPS’s Memphis, Tenn., mail-processing facilities.