Politicians in California’s Alameda County have approved the largest roof-mounted solar systems in the United States to be installed at a jail.
OAKLAND, California – PowerLight of Berkeley will install a 500 kilowatt solar electric system at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The County Board of Supervisors also approved the installation of several energy efficiency projects by CMS Viron Energy Services as part of the County’s efforts to reduce and stabilize future energy costs. “Over the past several years, Alameda County has reduced electricity use by more than 30 percent and we save more than $3 million every year by doing so,” explains Alameda County supervisor Scott Haggerty, president of the Board of Supervisors. “We want to take a leadership role in energy conservation and we are committed to exploring every option to reduce our energy consumption and save taxpayer dollars. We are confident that solar energy is a very smart addition to our overall energy strategy.” Santa Rita will reduce its consumption of grid power by 20 percent through the solar power generation and energy conservation. The County will save millions of dollars over the life of the project, and is the first of many anticipated solar installations on Alameda County’s buildings. “We estimate that Alameda County will save an average of $190,000 in electricity costs per year as a result of deploying solar power, leading to $5.5 million in overall savings,” explains County energy manager Matt Muniz. “By installing PowerLight’s PowerGuard(R) system, we’ll reduce costs, reduce pollution and conserve natural resources.” The 500 kW solar system will consist of 6,000 roof tiles, which will also increase the insulation of the jail. A comprehensive upgrade to the central plant, including state-of-the-art cooling equipment and controls, will be completed by summer. The PV system will generate 650,000 kWh a year and save an additional 890,000 kWh. “It’s great to be part of a project that’s environmentally friendly and saves taxpayers money,” says PowerLight president and CEO Tom Dinwoodie. “The Santa Rita project will be the largest known solar electric installation in the United States and, we believe, in the entire Western Hemisphere.” CMS Viron Energy Services will implement the central plant efficiency improvements. Both PowerLight and CMS Viron will install energy management systems to verify and monitor the project’s expected performance. PowerLight designs, manufactures and installs grid-connected commercial solar PV systems. It was founded in 1991.