|Mar 24, 2011||Redlands Daily Facts|
Chantal M. Lovell
Mar. 24, 2011 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) — REDLANDS — Construction began this week on a solar panel installation that will put once unusable property to work for the city.
The city will install solar panels atop unusable land at its wastewater treatment plant, saving more than $36,000 annually, said project specialist Danielle Garcia. The 574 panels will be spread across an area of contaminated soil that is covered in asphalt and can never be developed and would otherwise go unused.
"The piece of property can never be developed, it has to be held in perpetuity, so we're putting panels on this land to generate energy for the city," Garcia said. "This to my knowledge will be the first (solar plant) on city property."
The panels will provide 215,565 kilowatt hours to the city per year, Garcia said. In dollars, that translates to an estimated savings of $36,646.05 annually.
"Ten years from now, it could be saving us more. As energy prices rise, the savings are going to be more and more. This number is bound to go up," Garcia said.
Additionally, the use of the renewable energy will make the city eligible to receive up to $250,000 over five years in rebates, Garcia said. Each month, the city will receive a payment from Southern California Edison (AMEX:SCE.PR.E) (AMEX:SCE.PR.D) (AMEX:SCE.PR.C) (AMEX:SCE.PR.B) (OOTC:SCEDL) based on the amount of energy the panels produce. The money will likely be put back into future solar projects.
City spokesman Carl Baker said the project is in line with the recently-adopted Community Sustainability Plan.
"If we have the opportunity and the funding to (install more panels), we absolutely will," Baker said.
The $673,999 project was funded entirely through grants, Garcia said. Funding sources include the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding source, and the California Solar Incentive Program.
Because solar panels have gone down in cost, the city was able to afford about 30 more kilowatts worth than expected, Garcia said.
Construction is expected to be completed in early May.
E-mail Staff Writer Chantal M. Lovell at firstname.lastname@example.org