The Sunnyvale Parks and Recreation Commission voted to research the possibility of “power purchase agreements” for the installation of solar panels at Ortega Park, the SMaRT Station, Baylands Park and the Sunnyvale Corporation Yard.
Proposed by the city’s sustainability commission last year, Sunnyvale looked into various alternative energy options, including fuel cell, solar thermal, and wind, before focusing on solar photovoltaic.
The city considered 18 different sites for structural and financial feasibility before narrowing it down. The report estimates an average 40 percent savings in annual electricity costs at each of the final four sites selected.
PG&E provides the electricity used in city operations. There are programs authorized by the California PUC that enable PG&E customers to generate renewable power to offset power provided by the company.
It appears PG&E's Net Energy Metering program is the best fit for the city, as it allows for solar generation exported to the grid to be credited to the city at the same price as would be paid at the time of generation.
Of the four selected sites, the SMaRT Station has the highest energy use. A solar-powered system would offset an estimated 83 percent of energy used at this site. The initial cost for installation would be about $655K. This relates to a 25-year energy cost savings of $1,153,000-$2,235,000.
If a carport solar system is chosen, some trees would need to be relocated. Panels might also be installed on the rooftop of the station.
The City's Corporation Yard would enjoy a 79 percent offset. The cost is approximately $91,000-$101,000 to install, but would bring in a savings of $93,000-$182,000 over 25 years.
For the Baylands Park, carports with solar panels on the roofs were suggested. This would bring a 70 percent offset. Total cost is about $179,000-$198,000. The staff report projected a 25-year net savings of $165,000-$423,000. Some trees at the site would need to be relocated.
Ortega Park would get a system similar in design and cost with the same 70 percent offset result and would cost $465,000-$513,000 to install. The 25-year net savings would be about $368,000-$701,000. About 20 trees would need to be evaluated for relocation.
Commissioner Ralph Kenton said during the meeting.
"The concept of moving forward as a city in becoming more green by using solar energy to replace the power we use, I think, is an excellent general concept that we should definitely pursue,"
The vote instructed city staff to pursue RFP’s to acquire power purchase agreements for the four sites and consider a direct purchase option as well. The commission also voted to include a friendly amendment that would ensure that concerns identified by residents regarding tree removal and safety at Ortega Park, as the process moves forward, would be addressed.
According to staff, the direct purchase option has the potential to achieve the greatest long-term returns, but requires an investment up front and involves ongoing operational costs, whereas, through a PPA, there would be no up-front capital investment.
For direct purchase, the city would allocate funds for the initial cost to purchase and install the system and would be responsible for operation and maintenance of the system.
For the power purchase agreement, the city would enter into a long-term contract with a third-party PV system provider and purchase all energy used on the site at a set rate. The third-party provider would own the PV system and be responsible for all ownership costs, including financing, construction costs, operations and maintenance, insurance, and system production.
Thank you to Sunnyvale Parks and Recreation from the Maple Tree Inn.
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