City pursues clean power sources [Vallejo]
Several solar and wind power projects are in the works to help
Vallejo cut its electricity bill, city officials said.
Times Herald via Solar Buzz 2002.10.15
Staff for the City of Vallejo, located just to the north of San
Francisco, California is studying
placing roughly 224-kilowatt solar power units next to the city's
Columbus Parkway pump
station and on the roof of the Fleming Hill Reservoir, officials
The city also plans to install a 332-kilowatt solar project atop
City Hall and JFK Library, but has
yet to find a site for windmills, which require breezy areas, officials
said. The city has been
actively pursuing new sites to continue its strategy of finding
new power sources, Director of
Community Development Al da Silva said.
"We are trying to pursue renewable energy rather than being
dependent on gas, diesel or some
other form of energy," da Silva said. "(The sun) comes
up every day." The electricity generated
by the solar systems would power the water pumping stations, which
account for the bulk of the
city's energy bills each year, said energy consultant Larry Asera
of Asera LLC.
"Vallejo really is kind of a closet utility," Asera
said. "They run, own and operate their own
pumping stations... The biggest energy cost to the city right now
is providing power to all the
water pumping stations."
The city had bought electricity for roughly half that price through
a pool of 52 Northern California
cities, until the state Public Utilities Commission stopped the
program in September 2001, Asera
said. Cities were left to buy power from Pacific Gas & Electric
Co., Asera added. "Now it's gone up
to almost $2 million," Asera said. "You avoid using PG&E,
you avoid paying those high costs."
The Fleming Hill and Columbus Parkway projects could cost about
$1.6 million each to build,
according to a city report. The city has a $2.5 million grant from
the California Energy Commission
to help pay for the projects, the report said. More funding could
come from a PG&E program
encouraging cities to generate some of their own power, the report
"These solar panels would be very costly if there was not
a subsidy for it," da Silva said. "That's
why they're not everywhere." Last summer, the city installed
a solar project atop a carport at
the city's corporation yard, city officials said. The nearly $300,000,
31-kilowatt system could
save the city about $8,600 in the first year, or about $209,000
over its expected 20-year life,
"All of these energy projects really mean significant savings
to the city general fund because
they lower the city's electric cost," da Silva said, noting
that the city now spends about 13 to 19
cents per kilowatt each hour. "That's a significant savings."
The city has done a lot to find new
power sources, Councilmember Pete Rey said.
"As far as I can see, we're successful - up to a certain
degree," Rey said. But, he added, "More
could be done. We can do more."