Gas Station Pumps Out Solar Energy

Alameda-based general and electrical contractor Sustainable Technologies completed their most recent solar-electric grid tie system, a 30.4 kW array mounted on the roof canopy of a privately owned Shell Service Station at 444 Divisadero St. in San Francisco, California. The array of 216 Kyocera 167 watt modules is expected to offset approximately 70 percent of the current electrical needs at the station, which employs nearly one hundred people to pump fuel, staff two convenience shops, and operate the high volume car washing facility.

San Francisco, California – August 18, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The finished system has an installed cost of approximately $280,000 of which $132,295 (or $4.50/watt) will be reimbursed to the owner under PG&E’s Self-Generation Incentive Program, which compensates the owners of new PV systems through a rebate that corresponds to the system’s energy production capacity, in watts. Additional financial incentives that provide for federal tax credits, accelerated depreciation, and time-of-use and net metering bring the final cost down far enough to allow repayment of the initial investment in approximately eight years. When PG&E completes their portion of the final inspection in the next couple of weeks, the Divisadero Street Shell Station is expected to save an average of $860 per month on their energy bill. Annual production is estimated to top 53,000 kilowatt-hours per year. “I think it’s a great thing,” said John Shimek, Operations Manager at the station. “We use a lot of electricity here, so for us to be able to produce our own on-site makes perfect sense. The fact that it’s going to save us money and be better for the environment truly makes it a win-win proposition.” The PV project’s location at the busy corner of Oak and Divisadero Streets has made it a very high-profile project that is attracting much attention and curiosity from both patrons of the carwash and passing motorists. The project developers said the pattern of midnight blue crystalline panels framed in sleek, black frames add a clean, modern look to the familiar colors and canopy of the Shell Station, a 45-year resident of the corner lot. The project was an engineering and technical challenge from the beginning,” said Project Manager Miguel Silva. “Everyone on the Sustainable Technologies team knows the importance of this project and gave their best to successfully complete it.”
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