The City of San Jose is now getting power from the sun, at three locations, with more on the way, thanks to a new partnership with SolarCity. The company recently completed three PV arrays totaling 2.5 megawatts at city owned sites. At least 16 projects are planned and 14 more are being evaluated as San Jose moves forward on its 2007 Green Vision goal to source all, including residential, commercial and municipal, electric needs from renewable sources.
The first three projects installed through the new partnership with SolarCity include a 411 kilowatt installation at Kelley Park, a 160 kW installation at the Police Activities League Sports Center, a 30 kW installation at a municipal water office and a 95 kW installation at a service yard.
Under the power-purchase agreements the city signed with SolarCity, it didn’t have to pay any up-front costs for the systems. And, “We are buying power through the power-purchase agreement that’s at rate a little less than our utility rates,” said Mike Foster, San Jose’s acting environmental program manager.
The systems are net-metered with Pacific Gas & Electric and are designed to offset all the local energy use. At Kelley Park, which includes a LEED-Gold certified zoo, the array jest powers the park, Foster said. However, the solar array has educational elements so children and others visiting the zoo can learn more about solar and sustainability at the same time they learn about animals and habitat issues.
The city also is moving forward on efforts to increase renewable energy at residences and commercial sites. “We are taking a multi-pronged approach. We’re doing what we can to put solar on municipal building to show that we think it’s the right thing to do,” Foster said. At the same time it is offering incentives to support photovoltaics at residential and commercial sites throughout the city. “We are making a lot of progress. We have over 300,000 homes in San Jose,” Foster said. The city is offering incentives to residents through the DOE’s Solar Cities America program, among other efforts. Through that program, “We’ve already seen over 160 permits issued in the last six weeks and we’ve had about 300 issues since the beginning of 2012,” he said.
Under the partnership with SolarCity, San Jose will start moving forward on the next six projects in coming weeks, according to Foster. The remaining approved projects are still in the planning stages.