Santa Barbara flips switch on city’s first large-scale solar power plant

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Santa Barbara has activated its first large-scale, municipal solar power plant. The system, a 384-KW set of arrays built on six of the Southern California city’s Corporate Yard rooftops, was installed by Suntech Energy Solutions during the fall of 2008 and is financed and operated by Tioga Energy.

Through its SurePath power purchase agreement, Tioga Energy sells the energy generated by the system to the city at a fixed, predictable price over the 20-year contract term. In addition to a minimal upfront capital outlay, the city receives immediate energy savings and a hedge against future utility rate increases, without the hassle of owning the system outright, the partners said.

The system, which incorporates 1830 Suntech 210 PV modules, will produce 550,000 KW-hr of energy per year, effectively offsetting 191 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the power that would be needed for more than 100 Santa Barbara-area homes on an annual basis.

“This first system is a first step in reducing our energy costs and producing clean, renewable energy. We look forward to ‘throwing the switch’ on more projects in the years to come,” said  Marty Blum, mayor of Santa Barbara.

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