Placed on top of carports and on the roof of a water district building in Santa Clara County are high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are part of a US$2.4 million project sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Santa Clara Valley water district to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the county up to 20 percent by 2010.San Jose, California – June 24, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “The solar project was conceived and built as a way to achieve some independence in these times of unreliable and expensive energy,” said Joe Judge, chairman of the water district board of directors. “When we can accomplish that in an environmentally responsible manner and save taxpayers money in the process, it’s a benefit for the entire community.” The water district’s effort is a collaboration of businesses in Silicon Valley and public agencies known as Sustainable Silicone Valley. Power generated from the 200 kW PV system should reduce CO2 emissions by up to 412,699 pounds a year, which is the equivalent of 53 gasoline burning vehicles. “These are important first steps toward energy independence and I hope this type of innovation and creativity will continue,” California congressional representative Zoe Lofgren said. The solar energy project is the first in a two-part series of construction to power the water district’s campus with alternative energy sources. It will include 200 kW PV modules on the roof of the district’s administrative building and on two carports at the headquarters campus. Construction begins on a natural gas-fired cogeneration plant in 2005. An 800 kW natural-gas generator and heat-recovery unit will power the system. Aside from helping wean the water district from the grid, the solar project should save taxpayers about $240,000 annually in energy costs. Fat Spaniel Technologies, a solar monitoring solution company, will monitor the water district’s solar energy system with their PV2Web solar monitoring solution. Kiosks will be located in the headquarters and administration building lobbies of the water district, and the public will be able to view live energy data at www.valleywater.org. When the whole project is complete, officials expect the system to produce 2,862 MWh per year of electrical energy, the equivalent of 690 typical families’ annual electrical needs. It should also fulfill the water district’s entire campus energy needs under most circumstances. The alternative energy projects are also helping the water district attain certification in the County of Santa Clara’s Green Business Program, a regional joint venture for certifying businesses that operate using environmentally sound practices.