The rate of California solar installation has increased drastically in the past several years, sparking a clean energy transformation in the state that has proven to save millions of dollars, which are now being allotted for other purposes. Continuing with the trend, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority recently partnered with clean energy companies in the area to install solar power systems at three bus yards.
The VTA’s new solar canopy systems account for a total of 2.1 megawatts being produced at three bus maintenance divisions. The canopy systems will be used to provide shade for buses as they drive into the station and also save more than $2.7 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.
The VTA recently hosted a dedication of the solar power systems at the Cerone Bus Maintenance Division, which will serve as one of the three bus stations housing the new systems. Speakers at the event included Santa Clara County Supervisor and VTA Chair Ken Yeager, City of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and other executives who saw the project to completion.
“VTA will be saving taxpayer money on energy costs while investing in a future that will benefit us all,” said Yeager. “VTA is already combating global warming through the promotion of mass transit and congestion management. Now, we are reducing greenhouse gases through our operations, too.”
In addition to saving millions of dollars, the project will have significant environmental benefits, including offsetting more than 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. This is the equivalent of removing more than 9,000 vehicles from California’s roads or planting 10,000 acres of trees over the next 20 years.
“The VTA solar project aligns with the City of San Jose’s bold energy efficiency and renewable energy goals,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “This type of project also creates jobs and utilizes technologies from local clean tech companies, like SunPower, that have helped make our region a national leader in green tech innovation.”
VTA financed the solar installation through a power purchase agreement, which is a financial agreement in which developers own, operate and maintain photovoltaic systems. Under the VTA’s terms of agreement, a bank owns the systems, which are operated by the solar power company, SunPower. While being protected from rising energy costs, the VTA purchases the power at competitive retail rates and owns the energy credits associated with the system.
“California’s public sector is expected to save $2.5 billion from solar investments under the state’s California Solar Initiative program,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “SunPower has delivered reliable, high efficiency solar power systems to public agencies across California, and we applaud the VTA’s significant commitment to solar here in the Silicon Valley, which will serve the community by minimizing operational costs and helping to achieve environmental goals.”
SunPower constructed the system using 5,070 high efficiency solar panels that will provide shade and protection for the buses that stop at the station. Two of the solar systems are at the Chaboya and Cerone Divisions in San Jose while the third system is a 637-kilowatt system at the VTA North Division facility in Mountain View.
According to a recent poll conducted by Vote Solar, a non-profit solar advocacy group, four out of five citizens in California believe the California desert is a great resource and should be used to develop solar projects. The majority of respondents reported being concerned about global warming. With the growing concern for the environment, the rapid pace of clean energy projects is providing some relief for citizens across the state.