California Water Agency Installs Solar Assets

Water agencies on the West Coast of the United States are increasingly looking to solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to supply their power needs. The Desert Water Agency of Palm Springs, California recently took the PV plunge with a 355 kW array from Shell Solar.

“Sunny Palm Springs is one of the world’s ideal locations for a solar energy system of this magnitude,” said Desert Water Agency Board President, Ron Starrs. “This investment in renewable energy benefits our ratepayers and the environment. It also makes the statement that utility companies should demonstrate leadership in conserving natural resources.” The $2.5 million ground-mounted array is the largest PV installation in the Coachella Valley, according to Desert Water, and was installed by SoCal Solar Energy Systems using Shell’s panelization assembly method. Rather than connecting individual modules at the installation site, the individual modules were assembled into a larger panel at the factory. Assembling modules into panels in a factory environment achieves greater quality control and economic efficiencies, according to Shell. Panelization also allows for faster and lower installation costs with virtually no waste from shipping materials. Two industrial solar inverters designed and manufactured by Xantrex Technology Inc. are included with the project. Desert Water’s project costs were significantly reduced through a $1.2 million rebate from Southern California Edison (SCE) through the Self-Generation Incentive Program. The program is an initiative authorized by the California State Energy Commission to encourage the installation of new low or zero-emission, self-generation units. It is designed to help customers and the state manage peak electrical demand while addressing air-quality concerns. Desert Water’s football-field-size installation is located on the eastern side of the utility’s operations. More than 2,000 Shell PowerMax Ultra solar modules span hundreds of feet through the yard. Each solar module delivers 35 volts and 175 watts for predicted energy performance of 662,000 kWh per year. This should virtually eliminate the electrical bills for Desert Water’s main office in Palm Springs.
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