Mayor helps dedicate largest private solar project in Sacramento
Mayor Kevin Johnson joined public utility officials and private business developers at Depot Park Tuesday for a ceremony to dedicate the largest private solar project in the Sacramento region.
The 3-megawatt project, located in the Depot Park business complex on Florin-Perkins Road, includes an array of 12,600 solar panels and is designed to meet nearly 40 percent of the annual power needs for the 3 million-square-foot facility, according to information released by the mayor’s office.
“I believe this area has the opportunity to be the greenest region in the country and a hub for investment in clean technology,” Johnson said in his prepared statement. “Today’s dedication demonstrates that good environmental policy can be good economic policy.”
Johnson said the project – which is the result of collaboration by Depot Park, the city of Sacramento, East West Bank, SPG Solar and Chint Astronergy – has historic significance as a showcase for the reuse of a military base with a Brownfield site for renewable energy generation.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines a Brownfield site as land where any redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
The new solar project is an example of finding creative solutions to challenging issues and using green energy to remedy a previously contaminated Brownfield site, said Dick Fischer, president of U.S. National Leasing, owner and manager of Depot Park.
“It demonstrates how the alignment of policy creates real deals,” Johnson said. “We have a state enterprise zone and an aggressive renewable portfolio by SMUD, and we have our city sustainable goals all coming together to leverage dollars.”
The solar panel array at Depot Park is the largest green sector project within the city limits and it provides an opportunity to satisfy a growing need to diversify the local economy, Johnson told those attending the dedication.
Johnson was also joined at the dedication ceremony by Renee Taylor, president of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) board.
“SMUD is very committed to these kinds of projects,” Taylor said. “It’s an example of how, if we all come together to see this vision of a more sustainable future for Sacramento, that working together really is the way to do it.”
In 2007, SMUD began implementing California Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which requires utilities to set 10-year installation and budget goals proportional to the utility’s share of statewide load, which in SMUD’s case amounts to 125 megawatts (MW) of new capacity by the end of 2016.
“This one 3-megawatt project at Depot Park puts us at about 20 megawatts,” Taylor said. “We still have quite a ways to go to reach (our) goal, and we are pursuing it aggressively.”
Joel Ayala, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, also took part in Tuesday’s dedication ceremony. Ayala noted that solar projects of this kind in California provide an efficient and affordable source of energy as well as jobs for Californians.
“This is a win for California,” Ayala said. “The investment that Chint Astronergy has made in California is a great achievement, and the hope is that we can develop further opportunities both here and across the state.”
Julia Burrows, managing partner at Valley Vision, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization associated with the Depot Park solar project, said Chint Astronergy, the manufacturer of the new solar panels at Depot Park, is looking at potential plant locations and company headquarters in the United States.
“We want them here,” Burrows said.
Bringing such a manufacturing plant to this location would also bring 150 to 200 jobs, Burrows said, boosting the local economy and supporting the main objectives of the mayor’s Greenwise Initiative.
The initiative, launched by mayor Johnson last May, is an effort to make Sacramento the greenest region in the country and a hub for green technology through collaborative efforts with experts and community leaders in a variety of policy areas such as waste and recycling, urban design and green building, and green and clean technology.
Johnson concluded his dedication comments with a direct invitation to Cunhui Nan, chairman of Chint Astronergy, to bring his manufacturing plant to Sacramento and Depot Park.
“Sacramento is open for business,” Johnson said. “We have the space, we have the people and we’re ready to go.”