San Juan flips switch on solar power

Solar system to supply nearly 90 percent of district’s power needs
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The skies were clear and the sun beat down Wednesday, creating the perfect day for San Juan Water District to flip the switch on its new solar power system. The 794-kilowatt system will supply nearly 90 percent of the district’s electricity and save about $12 million over the 25-year life span of the system. “I think you’ll agree with me this is quite the success story,” said Keith Durkin, assistant general manager for the San Juan Water District in Granite Bay. The local district provides retail and wholesale water services to 196,000 residents in portions of Placer and Sacramento counties. The district also wholesales water to the Citrus Heights Water District, Fair Oaks Water District, Orangevale Water Co. and the City of Folsom. Through the California Solar Initiative program, the district received a nearly $2 million rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric for the new system. “It’s important for everyone in California that the people who have these innovative thought processes are incented to move forward on them,” said Clay Schmidt, executive manager for energy solutions and service at PG&E. The total cost of the project reached $5.5 million, and the remaining amount will pay for itself in energy savings within nine years. The district expects this to minimize the long-term impacts on ratepayers from rising energy costs. The project took nine months to complete — from when the concept was first devised to the flip of the switch. The system was installed on a site previously decommissioned from use on Auburn-Folsom Boulevard. The system uses SunPower Corporation state-of-the-art solar panels that track the sun during the day as it moves from east to west to maximize energy benefit. According to a fact sheet from the San Juan Water District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the system will offset 1.5 million pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions each year, which equates to removing 141 cars from the road and planting 166 acres of trees. Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.