City of San Diego Unveils 1-MW Solar System

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders launched a new 1.135-megawatt (MW) solar power installation at the city’s Alvarado Water Treatment Plant. The photovoltaic (PV) installation’s panels produce about 20 percent of the plant’s power, with annual electricity savings estimated at $40,000.

The Alvarado PV installation was built under a power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunEdison, under which San Diego citizens benefit from solar energy with no upfront cost, avoiding an estimated $6.5 million in capital installation. SunEdison built, owns and will maintain the solar power system and will sell the solar energy to the City’s Water Department at costs lower than SDG&E rates. “Through the Power Purchase Agreement solar services model, San Diego is able to achieve predictable pricing in solar energy costs and do so without incurring a capital outlay,” said Jigar Shah, CEO of SunEdison. The 1-MW water treatment plant site is the first of a multi-year solar deployment at San Diego facilities that will eventually produce 5 MW of solar power and will become the largest municipal system in California, surpassing Google’s planned 1.6-MW solar system in Mountain View, California. The City and SunEdison are investigating an additional 4 MW of solar projects at other San Diego sites including the Otay Water Treatment Facility and the Black Mountain Reservoir. The Alvarado installation has 6,128 PV solar panels located atop the concrete roofs of all three water storage reservoirs, a total area covering approximately 4.33 acres. Each panel measures 4.5 by 3.5 feet. The solar power system has the capacity to produce 1.602 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. “When the 5 megawatts of solar systems are fully installed, they will support California’s goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the state’s electricity mix to 20 percent by 2017,” said Mayor Sanders said.

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