Palo Alto Seals the Deal on Major Solar Electric Investments

With new contracts delivering 182.5 Gigawatt Hours of clean, green electric power, the City is marching full steam ahead on its path to a carbon-free future.

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Palo Altans can gaze upon California solar panel fields and know that’s exactly where their electric power is coming from--pretty cool!
---Jane Ratchye, Resource Management division director

Palo Alto, CA (PRWEB) June 18, 2013

Palo Alto has taken yet another step in its quest to be one of America's greenest cities with its recent major long-term solar power commitment.

Last night, the City Council authorized three major solar electric power purchase agreements, which together will result in the acquisition of up to 182,500 megawatt-hours (MWh) of solar photovoltaic electric power per year, which is the equivalent of roughly 18 percent of the City’s electric needs. That’s enough power to supply all 65,000+ Palo Alto residents---and then some! (The median residential use is roughly 5 MWh/year).

Thanks to several projects coming online over the next few years, combined with these three newly-approved solar contracts, by 2017 the City will be achieving its 100% carbon-neutral electricity purchases solely through carbon-free long-term renewable contracts and hydroelectric resources. The new power purchase agreements take Palo Alto’s “green commitment” to a new level.

“Palo Alto has bought the entire output from these three new projects which are being built right here in our home state. People can go gaze upon the fields of solar panels and know that’s exactly where their electric power is coming from! I find that pretty cool,” comments Jane Ratchye, director of the City Utilities Resource Management division.

Palo Alto is already one of the few places in the world that is already purchasing completely carbon-neutral electricity. Having rapped about the carbon-neutral electric achievement back in March, the City now has even more to crow about!

Presently, about 70% of that carbon-neutral power is coming from renewable resources and the rest is wholesale market power that is “neutralized” by the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset emissions associated with it. (Get the full scoop on this part of the story here)

The delivery of the power from the new solar facilities is scheduled to start by January 2017 and the contracts last for 30 years. The price paid (~$69/MWh) for each megawatt hour [MWh] of this new solar capacity was lower than any previously-approved renewable energy projects over the last eight years. Palo Alto will make no upfront payments under any of these contracts – energy will be paid for only after it is delivered.

Palo Alto owns all its own utilities, including the electric utility which was founded back in 1900 and serves all City residents and businesses. The founding fathers had a vision that local control would result in big benefits for the community, both economically and in terms of visionary policy. How right they were!

The City currently has many contracts for renewable resources in its electric portfolio from wind farms, solar arrays and renewable gas captured from landfills. In addition to these renewable resources, about 50% of the City’s electric supply portfolio comes from non-carbon emitting hydro-electric generation. The economic impact of being 100 percent “carbon neutral” is estimated to be under $3/year on the average Palo Alto resident’s electric bill.

Palo Alto’s commitment to renewable solar energy extends to a wide variety of programs and services---check them all out here.


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