California’s Palo Alto is a fan of the sun and renewable energy. With its two latest utility-scale solar farms totaling 60 megawatts the city is now getting a third of its energy from solar power. In fact, its municipal utility City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU), is on track to produce 60 percent of its energy from renewables in 2017.
As impressive, with an energy generating portfolio that now gets most of its energy from renewable energy sources including solar, wind, hydroelectric and gas conversion from landfills, CPAU’s utility rates have remained competitive with other utilities in the region. The city’s electricity supply has actually been 100 percent carbon neutral since 2013. That includes commitments of more than 150 megawatts of solar power throughout California.
“The City is committed to delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally-friendly power. Adding these solar projects to our diverse electric supply portfolio is in line with our sustainability values and helps us move closer to the ultimate goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity,” said Ed Shikada, assistant city manager and general manager of Utilities. “I am also proud to say that through these long-term contracts, we continue to put our customers’ best financial interests first, as the rates we are paying for the energy are some of the lowest we have ever seen.”
The newest additions to that portfolio of clean energy include two solar projects under 25-year power-purchase agreements with renewable energy provider sPower. The projects are the 20-megawatt Western Antelope Blue Sky Ranch B and the 40-megawatt Elevation Solar C solar farms.
“We are pleased to be able to support the City of Palo Alto’s goal of giving customers economical rates while adding to its carbon-neutral electric resources. The City has been an outstanding organization to work with,” said Hans Isern, Senior Vice President of sPower. “While we are always happy to connect new projects to the grid, we are especially proud of the fact that Elevation Solar C is sPower’s largest organic, self-generated PPA to date. It’s another key milestone for our company.”
Palo Alto isn’t just increasing its utility-scale solar power, its taking actions across the board to reduce its emissions. As part of that, it made it easier for homeowners to go solar. Through its Photovoltaic Action Committee, it streamlined rooftop solar installations in 2013 by reducing the inspection, approval and permitting process to just 5 days. Palo Alto also adopted a formal Sustainability and Climate Action Plan that projects a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Increasingly, other states, cities and their utilities are taking more aggressive action on renewable energy. Recently, Hawaii’s largest utility, Hawaii Electric Companies, implemented clean energy goals that will produce 48 percent of its electric generation from renewables by 2020.Tweet