Civic Center Refurbishment Includes Solar Energy

Construction will begin shortly on an energy savings and performance project for Cathedral City’s civic center. Honeywell will tackle the US$2.7 million project, which will include the installation of a 269 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) canopy on the roof of the building’s garage.

The energy efficiency improvements should help reduce the city’s annual operating costs by 33 percent. Like many other large solar PV projects in California, the PV component will be eligible for a $1 million renewable energy rebate from the California Energy Commission. Built using 1,632 Sharp Solar PV panels, the parking garage canopy will generate power while shielding vehicles from the sun. The canopy supports the city’s drive toward using clean, renewable energy and will reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 514 tons each year — the equivalent of removing 103 automobiles from the road. “Solar energy gives the city a reliable way to generate savings and affords us protection against energy rate increases,” said Donald Bradley, the city manager of Cathedral City. “The project leverages our natural Southern California resources, and saves taxpayers money on our already tight budgets.” Administered through the local utility, the rebate will reduce the net cost of the project. And the energy savings that result from the citywide upgrades and improvements will pay for the $1.7 million balance over the next nine-and-a-half years. Honeywell said there is no financial risk to the city because they guarantee the energy and financial results. During the nine-month construction phase of the project, Honeywell will install the solar canopy, as well as energy-efficient lighting and controls throughout the city buildings. This includes upgrades to the civic center, fire stations and public works buildings. Honeywell also will upgrade traffic signals from incandescent lights to light emitting diodes (LEDs), which use less energy and have a longer life span. When completed, this phase is expected to cut the city’s annual (electrical) energy consumption by 26 percent. “Cathedral City is at the front of the movement toward green, renewable energy,” said Joe Puishys, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “As energy prices continue to rise, more local state and federal entities will follow its lead. Performance contracts provide a financially viable means to fund these projects, while also creating more comfortable, environmentally friendly places to live and work.” Honeywell and Cathedral City are currently planning a second phase of the project, which will focus on using alternate sources of renewable energy, such as waste-to-energy conversion, to generate revenue for the city. This work is another step in the city’s efforts to reduce energy consumption. The city saw a 20 percent decrease in energy usage when it switched to a four-day work week in 1997.
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