Jan 03, 2012

California Water Facilities Reduce Operating Costs With Solar Power Systems

Four high-efficiency solar power systems support public water facilities

California Water Facilities Reduce Operating Costs With Solar Power Systems

SunPower Corp. announced the completion of four high-efficiency solar power systems totaling 3.8 megawatts (MW) at public water agencies and water treatment facilities in California. The systems will significantly reduce electricity costs at each site, relieving strained public budgets.

"Water agencies and facilities typically have huge energy demand and a responsibility to rate payers to minimize operational costs, and these California facilities are no exception," Sunpower President Howard Wenger said. "With the systems operating at more than 25 water agencies and treatment facilities, SunPower is pleased to deliver efficient and reliable solar technology."

Two of the systems serve Rancho California Water District (RCWD) in Riverside County. One of the RCWD systems is a 1.1-MW system at the Senga Doherty Pump Station, which uses the SunPower T0 Tracker, a ground-mounted system that rotates the solar panels to follow the sun during the day, increasing energy capture by up to 25% over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while reducing land use requirements. A 612-kilowatt solar parking canopy system was also completed at RCWD headquarters.

In 2008, SunPower completed another 1.1-MW system at RCWD's Santa Rosa Water Reclamation Facility.

The purchase of the RCWD systems was financed using low-interest qualified energy conservation bonds (QECBs), available as a result of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The solar power generated by the systems is expected to offset an average of 95% of the electricity cost at RCWD's district headquarters and 55% at the Senga Doherty Pump Station, achieving an estimated savings of approximately $4.3 million over the next 20 years.

"SunPower is very experienced in working with wastewater treatment plants and assisted us with securing the power purchase agreement that made the project affordable," said Galt Mayor Barbara Payne. "The system will generate the equivalent of approximately 90% of the total electricity demand at our facility, resulting in savings we can pass on to our rate payers."