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San Francisco’s Solar Project

In an effort to increase their solar energy output, the city of San Francisco has moved forward with plans for their largest photovoltaic solar project. The five megawatt array, which will be spread atop the town’s largest reservoir, will be the approximate size of 12 football fields. The project will see the installation of nearly 25,000 solar panels by early 2010.

Critics questioned the choice of the city to place the array on the Sunset Reservoir because they say that the area experiences a large amount of fog, thereby decreasing the amount of solar energy the project could produce, as opposed to placing the panels on a different reservoir.

Recurrent Energy, the San Francisco firm that will install and operate the sizeable array, said that the Sunset Reservoir sees only 15 percent less sunshine than the sunniest spots in the city and upholds its opinion that the project will produce the amount of energy desired.

Along with the installation and operation of the project, the city also signed on for a 25-year contract with Recurrent and a power purchase lease was made between Recurrent and San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission. In essence Recurrent will own the power its array manifests and the SFPUC agrees to purchase the energy during the contract period.

The project will allow Recurrent to take advantage of a 30 percent Federal tax credit, which will help defray the cost of the project from an estimated $86.3 million to a little over $50 million over the course of the agreement.

Construction of the PV array will begin immediately and will create 71 green collar jobs in the process.

Once the array is operational the city will be able to begin to see if the agreement is one that is advantageous for all involved. Clauses in the contract stipulate that the city may opt to purchase the operation at the seven and 15-year anniversaries.

In addition to being the largest PV solar array in San Francisco, the Sunset Reservoir project aims to reduce the amount of carbon emissions in the city by 100,000 metric tons over the next 25 years.

Certified solar contractors in: San Francisco

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