PowerLight to Install 500kW Solar Electric System in CA

February 25, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

PowerLight (Berkley, CA) has received authorization from the Almeda County board of supervisors to install a 500kW solar electric installation at its Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, CA. The company claims that this will be the largest roof-mounted system in the US.

The project will take a two-fold approach to reducing the jail's electric utility bill. First, clean energy will be generated through a 500kW PowerGuard solar installation consisting of approximately 6,000 roof tiles. Second, the jail's energy efficiency will be improved through a combination of added insulation from the solar roof tiles and a comprehensive upgrade to the jail's central plant, including state-of-the-art cooling equipment and controls. The project, which will be completed by early summer, will result in the annual generation of 650,000kWh of clean energy, and save an additional 890,000kWh.

Once the Santa Rita project is complete, it will reduce the facility's consumption of grid-generated electricity by approximately 20 percent, through both solar power generation and energy conservation. As a result, Alameda County taxpayers will save millions of dollars over the life of the project. It is the first of many anticipated solar installations on Alameda County's buildings.

"Over the past several years, Alameda County has reduced electricity use by more than 30 percent, and we save more than $3 million every year by doing so," said Alameda County supervisor Scott Haggerty, president of the board of supervisors. "But because we want to take a leadership role in energy conservation, we are committed to exploring every option to reduce our energy consumption and save taxpayer dollars. We are confident that solar energy is a very smart addition to our overall energy strategy."