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September 13, 2011 > County unveils new rooftop project

County unveils new rooftop project

Submitted By Guy Ashley

Alameda County officials will dedicate the new rooftop solar power system at Castro Valley Library, which makes the library branch one of the "greenest" facilities of its kind in the country. The 277-kilowatt system provides 100 percent of the energy used by the library and effectively eliminates the Library's cost of electricity from PG&E.

County officials will also unveil a plaque inside the Library that celebrates its newly granted LEED-Gold status, a coveted designation by the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes the County's breakthrough efforts to generate renewable energy and conserve valuable resources.

The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, September 14 at the Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Avenue, Castro Valley.

"The Castro Valley Library represents the latest of several bold moves Alameda County has made to position itself as a leader in the sustainability movement," said Nate Miley, President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. "Those moves include adopting 'green' business practices that conserve resources and overhauling the County infrastructure to minimize energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions."

"The Castro Valley Library is the showpiece of our County's sustainability efforts - a public gathering place that is a state-of-the-art green building and a facility that engages the community on how to live in an eco-friendly way," added Susan S. Muranishi, Alameda County Administrator.

The high-efficiency facility, built under the leadership of the County's General Services Agency, saves water and energy and reduces waste. The Library's new solar power system entered operation in March 2011, making Castro Valley the first library in the Bay area to be a "net zero" electrical energy user. In its first six months of generating clean renewable energy, the library received $21,000 in PG&E energy credits - thanks to the fact that on sunny afternoons the system generates enough electricity to spin its electrical meters backwards and provide electricity to the neighboring community.

Two-thirds of this $1.7M solar power system was funded by a 1 percent loan from the California Energy Commission made available under the 2009 federal stimulus program - also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) The ARRA loan will be re-paid over the next 14 years with savings on the Library's electricity bill.

In addition to the cost savings, the County will receive monthly incentive payments totaling more than $500,000 over the next five years from PG&E's California Solar Initiative. The County has already received $26,600 in incentives based on the amount of electricity generated at the Library in only its first two months. These incentive payments help to defray the initial costs of the solar power system.

The rooftop solar power system consists of 880 high efficiency solar panels manufactured by San Jose-based SunPower Corp. The system was designed and installed by Berkeley-based Sun Light & Power, which also installed a unique monitoring system that displays the solar power system's performance on a flat-screen monitor in the library's lobby.

"The monitoring system helps to educate the public about the ways in which Alameda County is working to protect the environment and the things people can do to conserve resources and tread more lightly on the planet," said Aki Nakao, Director of Alameda County's General Services Agency.

It is estimated the system will save Alameda County about $91,000 a year in energy costs. The monitoring system can also be viewed on the Castro Valley Library website at www.aclibrary.org

The Castro Valley Library's solar energy system is the latest in many resource-conservation and renewable energy projects launched by Alameda County. Since 2002, the County has installed 10 on-site solar power systems, including those at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, the Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro and the Fremont Hall of Justice, amounting to 3.2 megawatts of renewable electricity.

Under the landmark Climate Action Plan enacted by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 2010, the County has established a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 15 percent by 2020.

Dedication of Solar Power System
Wednesday, September 14
1 p.m.
Castro Valley Library
3600 Norbridge Avenue, Castro Valley

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