San Francisco Mayor Kicks off New Solar Project

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom joined southeast community leaders and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to ‘flip the switch’ and officially begin operation of a new 255 kW solar electric system at the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant, the city’s largest wastewater treatment facility.

Covering 20,000 square feet of rooftop, the solar project complements San Francisco’s largest municipal installation at the Moscone Center, providing the plant with more than 300,000-kWh per year — the equivalent energy to power 200 homes, according to PowerLight, which constructed the system. The Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant’s solar array reduces the use of fossil fuel-generated electricity, sparing the environment from tons of harmful emissions. Throughout the next 30 years, the environmental benefits of the Plant’s solar generated electricity will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3,000 tons. These emission reductions are the equivalent to planting 843 acres of trees or not driving 7.5 million miles in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Southeast Plant treats more than 80 percent of the daily wastewater flow from San Francisco’s sewer system. The plant’s new solar array will provide 11 percent of the facility’s electrical requirements and is estimated to save $38,400 in annual energy costs. In addition, the in-City power generation will strengthen electric system reliability by reducing San Francisco’s peak energy demand approximately 6 percent, according to the developer. The project will integrate solar power generation with energy efficiency measures to further reduce the Plant’s electrical load. The energy efficiency portion of the project consists of replacing 48 aeration mixers over the next two years with new units. The mixer replacement effort is projected to save 1,514,250 kWh annually and will reduce the site power load by 240 kW. During the ceremony, City officials also touted the SFPUC’s successful partnership to prevent statewide rolling blackouts this past summer through the California Power Authority’s Demand Reserves Partnership Program. The SFPUC participated in the program by identifying facilities with high-energy-use equipment that could be shut down during peak summer power load periods. When called upon, SFPUC facility operators performed equipment shutdowns for periods of up to three hours, achieving a reduction in peak load of up to five MW in August and September, a 25 percent reduction in the SFPUC’s peak power demand. The Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant’s solar array is the latest renewable energy project sponsored by the SFPUC. In addition, the SFPUC recently approved a new 283-kW solar installation at Pier 96 and plans further deployments at additional municipal sites, including Moscone Center West, the Northpoint Facility, Pier 50, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco Airport and public libraries, health clinics and schools. “By investing in solar deployments, San Francisco is continuing national leadership in development of renewable energy programs and meeting a growing portion of the City’s municipal electricity needs with clean energy resources,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
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