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April 7, 2010 > Santa Clara County and partners lead major regional renewable power purchase

Santa Clara County and partners lead major regional renewable power purchase

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Laurel Anderson

On March 30, Santa Clara County, several partner cities, Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Rethink Waste and Joint Venture Silicon Valley announced a collaboration for the largest, multi-jurisdiction renewable energy procurement effort in the US, in terms of both number of sites and number of jurisdictions participating, though not in total installed capacity. Sites include office rooftops, carports, water-storage tanks, ground-mounted systems, bus depots, senior centers, parking garages, health centers and others from Pacifica to Morgan Hill.

The “Regional Renewable Power Purchase Initiative” was put out to bid on March 29 and represents a monumental step to move public agencies to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels. The purchase, with a total planned solar capacity of 14.4 Megawatts (MW), will include renewable power for a total of 70 sites across 43 separate locations, with nine participating cities and agencies led by Santa Clara County.

“This is an excellent example of what can happen when a group of visionary, committed participants gather,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, Vice President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “You have the opportunity to build on each other’s strengths and create jobs - more than 450 green jobs. The City of Milpitas had the vision to employ renewable energy at multiple sites and helped initiate the dialogue. Santa Clara County, as part of its commitment to environmental stewardship, brought in the technical, legal and contractual resources necessary to move this idea from concept to reality for the region.”

When Phase I is completed in 2011, this project will have the environmental impact of planting more than 2,800 acres of trees or removing in excess of 2,600 passenger cars from the roads or providing more than enough energy to power 2,700 California homes for a year.

"Twenty-seven of the 70 sites will be in Milpitas at 15 different locations. I’m pleased Milpitas identified the opportunity for a Power Purchase concept and brought the Association of Bay Area Governments and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network together to start the ball rolling. I’m also very appreciative of all the work the County has done to implement this exciting project,” said Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood.

“The City of Mountain could not afford to miss the opportunity to explore this innovative, collaborative model of purchasing renewable energy, given the financial and environmental benefits for our residents and future generations,” said Mountain View Mayor Ronit Bryant.

Proposed sites for the City of Mountain View include several roof-mounted systems and carport structures, each installation having the capacity to generate at least 100 percent of that site’s energy needs. One example involves installing roof-mounted and parking-lot solar carports at the Shoreline Park Golf Pro Shop. The golf course’s cart-fleet is already electric-powered, so this installation would enable the City of Mountain View to provide zero-emissions transportation around the golf course.

“The City of Cupertino is pleased to be a part of this progressive renewable energy procurement,” said Cupertino Mayor Kris Wang. “We’ll have solar panels mounted at three locations – City Hall Plaza, Quinlan Community Center and the fleet parking lot.”

“VTA has been actively involved and is a proud partner in this regional initiative lead by the County,” said Mountain View Councilor Margaret Abe-Koga who is Vice Chair of the VTA Board of Directors. “This program reinforces VTA’s commitment to create a greener Santa Clara Valley through the reduction of greenhouse gases and the use of renewable energy.”

VTA has identified two sites for renewable energy systems – VTA’s North Bus Maintenance and Operations Division in Mountain View and the Guadalupe Light Rail Maintenance and Operations Division in San Jose. The proposed solar panel canopies at VTA’s facility in Mountain View will create several direct and indirect energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits.

Phase I is expected to generate overall net cost savings of at least 10 percent from the energy produced by the solar-power project compared to current electricity costs. The photovoltaic installations at the 11 County buildings will cover two million square feet. These projects will reduce public agencies’ environmental footprint, reduce energy costs and spur economic activity.

“We’re pleased with the thoughtfulness that went into the planning process,” said Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network CEO Russell Hancock. “We’re confident the project will stimulate local economic opportunities. It’s enormously rewarding to have played a key role in facilitating such an important public-private partnership and to see it moving forward.”

Even though the procurement is large, sites are bundled, allowing local businesses to compete effectively. Local businesses will be able to bid on their areas of specialty and will also benefit from the County’s local-preference scoring policy. Phase I is expected to create approximately 226 jobs, during construction and installation, and another 233 indirect jobs related to the project, excluding manufacturing which may occur offshore.

“The collaborative creates a force in the marketplace, one that can change the way Silicon Valley and the nation thinks about, consumes and purchases renewable power,” concluded Cortese.

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