California City Tips the Solar Energy Scale

Vallejo recently dedicated its fourth solar panel system, cutting the ribbon on a 214 kW system that will provide up to 80 percent of the energy needed for a nearby water pumping station. Town officials said with this latest commitment to renewable energy, Vallejo has become the number one city in the nation in terms of total installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

Vallejo, California – August 28, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “When we made a commitment to renewable energy three years ago, we wanted it to be a strong one,” Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli said of the City’s latest distinction. “This is a source of pride for everyone in Vallejo.” The PV system covers approximately 1.3 acres and consists of, 1,700 solar panels. The system, located next to the water-pumping station, is expected to meet from 60 to 80 percent of the pump station’s energy requirements. This will save the city thousands of dollars a year in electricity payments. Estimated savings in the first year of operation alone are US$67,000. Half of the project’s $1.68 million costs are covered by a grant from PG&E as part of the self-generation program that is available to all businesses and institutions in PG&E territory. The remaining costs are covered by the issuance of Certificates of Participation by Vallejo. The California Energy Commission offers a similar rebate program to homeowners who install solar systems smaller than 30 kW in size. “We’re committed to our renewable energy projects,” said City Manager David Martinez. “This has a positive impact in our community and the entire Bay Area in terms of air quality. We’re happy to be a part of the solution.” According to the city, The CO2 avoided from just this installation is 570,000 pounds per year; this will have the same effect on CO2 as planting approximately 70 acres of trees. It is also avoiding the production of hundreds of pounds of smog, acid rain and air pollution gases, SO4 and Nox. Vallejo was named a Clean Air Champion 2002 by the Bay Area Air Quality Management district and has been nominated for an EPA/DOE 2003 Green Leadership Award. Along with the latest solar panel system, the city has solar panel systems at the Corporation Yard which provides power for the nearby police station; and solar arrays on the roofs of City Hall and the John F. Kennedy Library. The end result is a capacity to generate 577 kW of electricity at various city-owned structures and facilities. That energy generation is expected to save the City over US$200,000 in energy costs annually. The city is also currently considering placing solar panels atop the roof of Fire Station 7, located on Columbus Parkway next to the just-dedicated solar panel array. “This project means a lot of things to the City of Vallejo,” said Cameron Moore, BP Solar’s Director of Building Markets. “It means energy savings; it means job creation; and it means a benefit to the environment.” The Bay Area Air Quality Management District named the City of Vallejo a Clean Air Champion in 2002 for its efforts in the area of solar power and renewable energy efforts. “It’s an honor to be the top city in the nation in terms of solar energy generation,” said Martinez. “We’ve partnered with a lot of good companies to make that distinction a reality. We’re committed to renewable energy, and I am sure we’ll have more projects like this in the future.”

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