SolarWorld is building a total of 537 kilowatts of photovoltaic carports at four public parks in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The car ports will provide power for the parks to use onsite. In all, the carports are expected to save the Conejo Recreation and Parks District (CRPD) an estimated $3.4 million in electric costs over the 25 year power-purchase agreement.
“We are excited to start this project,” said Tom Hare, CRPD’s administrator for parks and planning. “In addition to wanting to secure cost savings, we feel it is important that CRPD promote energy efficiency. We were pleased that we could accomplish these goals with SolarWorld."
The solar canopies are being built in CRPD’s most energy hungry facilities, including Borchard Community Park, Dos Vientos Community Park, Thousand Oaks Community Park and Conejo Creek South Park.
SolarWorld partnered with Sustainable Power Group (sPower) to finance the project through a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with CRPD. Under the PPA, SolarWorld’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) division will design and build the array and SolarWorld will maintain and operate the carports.
The PPA for the carports is for a lower rate than CRPD would pay for electricity over the life of project if it was getting the power from grid, according to SolarWorld.
“The four carports are expected to generate a total of 17,300,000 kilowatt-hours in renewable energy, saving the Conejo Recreation and Parks District, the local government unit that owns and operates the parks, millions of dollars over 25 years.”
“With this project, SolarWorld brings together its high-quality solar technology and top-flight engineering and construction talent with sPower’s financing capacity to help CRPD meets its fiscal and sustainability goals,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, the company’s commercial unit for the Americas. “The project also highlights a growing trend among U.S. park districts. Long-time stewards of the environment, these organizations understand that solar power can also play a role in financial stewardship.”
More parks are turning to solar to provide power for their services. For instance Yosemite park installed 672 kilowatts of solar arrays at a couple of locations in the park in 2011 and this summer, Reliant installed a solar array to provide power for a water park in Houston. Such installations are great for the parks, because they can utilize underutilized spaces—like a parking lot to provide shade while generating electricity. Also since some parks aren’t close to normal transmission lines, like Yosemite, it can further help bring electric and maintenance costs down.