SLO County unveils new 1.2-megawatt solar project
The ground-mounted solar system is expected to offset 10-percent of the county’s total energy usage
–The County of San Luis Obispo and ForeFront Power this week celebrated the completion of a 1.2 megawatts-DC (MWdc) solar energy project at the County Operations Center. Developed, financed, owned, and operated by ForeFront Power, the project includes a total of 3,294 solar modules ground-mounted on 6 acres of land behind the County Honor Farm and parallel to Calif. State Highway 1.
The County Operations Center solar project will yield significant electricity savings and cost stability for the eight departments benefitting from the project. The solar project aggregates electric meters from 12 county facilities, including the main and women’s jail, juvenile services center, honor farm, and other sheriff’s, public works, information services, and fleet facilities. Beyond the planned energy cost savings, this project will also contribute to the county’s renewable energy procurement goals.
“This project is a significant step forward to reaching our county goal of procuring 20 percent of our energy from renewable sources,” said Energy and Water Coordinator for the County of San Luis Obispo Annie Secrest. “With this project energized, the county now derives over 12 percent of its energy from solar power. This helps us mitigate increasing electricity rates and better control our operating expenses.”
The county expects that, over the next 20 years, the project will offset nearly 74 million pounds of carbon dioxide, and yield an estimated $6 million in net savings, which will reduce the county’s operating expenses and allow it to provide critical services to the community.
The project also generates enough electricity to avoid an additional 1,735 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. This is roughly equivalent to removing 375 gas-powered passenger vehicles from the road annually, or to the amount of carbon sequestered by 2,266 acres of nearby forest in one year.
Through a power purchase agreement with ForeFront Power, the county will purchase the electricity generated by the County Operations Center at a set price per kilowatt-hour. This allows the county to purchase electricity at a lower rate than it could obtain from the local utility, and without incurring the upfront or ongoing costs for installing the solar project.
“We are pleased to have helped the County of San Luis Obispo reduce electricity costs through on-site solar generation,” said Casey Miller, project manager, and project development at ForeFront Power. “Together with our two previously installed canopy systems, the County Operations Center solar project adds more clean, renewable energy to help the county achieve its long-term energy and climate goals.”
Prior to the County Operations Center, ForeFront Power energized the County of San Luis Obispo’s first two solar energy projects in 2020. These two solar canopy systems total 552 kilowatts (kW) and are designed to supply over 80-percent of site electricity needs at the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s Dairy Creek Golf Course and El Chorro Regional Park, and the Department of Social Services.
Across all three of the projects, ForeFront Power utilized local labor for the vast majority of construction, which was an important aspect of these projects for the county.