California Water Facilities Reduce Operating Costs with Solar Energy

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," said Howard Wenger, president, regions, of SunPower. "With SunPower systems operating at more than 25 water agencies and treatment facilities, SunPower is pleased to deliver the most efficient and reliable solar technology on the market today, with guaranteed performance that ensures these facilities lock in positive financial returns."

Two of the SunPower systems serve Rancho California Water District (RCWD) in Riverside County. One of the RCWD systems is a 1.1-megawatt 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 percent 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-megawatt 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 percent of the electricity cost at RCWD’s District Headquarters and 55 percent at the Senga Doherty Pump Station, achieving an estimated savings of approximately $4.3 million over the next 20 years.

The other two recently completed systems include a 1-megawatt installation for Castaic Lake Water Agency’s Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant in Santa Clarita, and a 983-kilowatt system for the City of Galt’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Both use the SunPower T0 Tracker, and are expected to generate the equivalent of 90 percent or more of the facilities’ electricity demand. Both were also financed through solar power purchase agreements with SunPower. PNC Energy Capital, LLC, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., purchased the systems that SunPower designed, built, operates and maintains. The City of Galt and CLWA host the systems, buying the electricity at prices below retail rates, which provides them with a long-term hedge against rising power prices with no initial capital investment. While CLWA will own the renewable energy credits (RECs) and environmental benefits associated with the system installed at their facility, the City of Galt will sell the RECs and environmental benefits associated with the system they are hosting.

"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 percent of the total electricity demand at our facility, resulting in savings we can pass on to our rate payers."

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) designs, manufactures and delivers the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar panels and systems available today. Residential, business, government and utility customers rely on the company’s quarter century of experience and guaranteed performance to provide maximum return on investment throughout the life of the solar system. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.