Auburn, Calif. – The Placer County Board of Supervisors recently dedicated its new photovoltaic solar system that powers the county’s Juvenile Detention Facility in Auburn. The 400 kilowatt system, installed this year, covers about two acres and will not only reduce operating costs, but the county’s dependence on grid-sourced electricity.
The Board, in 2001, directed county staff to investigate the possibility of installing solar systems at the government center. This new system at the juvenile facility was approved by the Supervisors in 2006 and is part of county’s ongoing efforts to install solar power generation systems at the Placer County Government Center in Auburn. It is one of four systems approved for installation by the Board.
In addition to the system being dedicated today, the culmination of staff work has lead to the installation of four other solar systems currently operating at other county buildings. They are located at:
Finance Administration Building;
DeWitt Buildings 110 and 111; and
DeWitt Building 400.
The forecasted benefit to Placer County over the 25-year life of the system is estimated to be nearly $3 million.
“We are fortunate here in Placer County to have an abundance of sunshine most of the year,” said Supervisor Jim Holmes, whose District includes Auburn. “It makes good environmental and financial sense for the county to use this clean and natural resource. It’s also good public policy.”
The new system was installed on previously unused county owned land near the juvenile facility. The installation preserved the many heritage oak trees located on the property. The system was designed to leave the gently rolling terrain intact.
“The Placer County Department of Facility Services is pleased not only because we are able to make our buildings greener, but because we are saving taxpayer money,” said Jim Durfee, Director of Facility Services. “The Board has given us clear direction on using solar power. We’re glad we have been able to do this and at the same time use already owned county land and not alter the land’s characteristics.”
‘We applaud Placer County for their vision and wisdom to better manage their energy costs while also helping the environment,’ said Steve Nichols, director of service and sales for the Sacramento and Sierra foothills region for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. ‘Advancing solar is consistent with our customers’ energy vision and our goals of encouraging the development of clean and renewable power.’
Placer County received a $974,874 incentive rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric’s Self Generation Incentive Program. Through the California Solar Initiative program, of which PG&E is an administrator, and the Self-Generation Incentive Program, PG&E has cumulatively awarded more than $200 million in solar rebates to nearly 900 customers, including businesses and many public entities like schools, universities, water districts, and city, county, state and federal agencies. PG&E has more than 18,000 solar customers – more than any other utility in the nation – who generate approximately 153 megawatts of solar electricity, or more than 60 percent of the solar energy generated in California.
Installation and operation of the various solar powered systems at Placer County government buildings was done through a series of agreements dating back to 2005 between the county and Solar Power & Geothermal Energy, a firm with Roseville-based headquarters. The installation of a solar system on the Finance Administration Building was done with another firm and was completed in 2005. Kirk Uhler, Placer County Supervisor who represents District 4, is the Vice President of Government Relations with Solar Power. The agreement to have this firm install the system at the juvenile detention center was approved by the Board before Uhler took office. For subsequent Board action on the project, Uhler abstained from Board discussions and votes.