Santa Barbara selects EI Solutions, Tioga Energy for solar PV power project

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During ground-breaking ceremonies held today (Wednesday), the city of Santa Barbara, CA, announced that it has selected EI Solutions and Tioga
Energy to design, build, and fund a 384-KW DC (331-KW AC) solar
electric system, which will be located on available rooftop space in a municipal corporation yard in the city’s historic downtown area.

The roof-mounted PV system, designed and installed by EI Solutions, will
feature 1830 Suntech 210-watt multicrystalline-based solar panels and will offset a portion of the facility’s energy load, producing enough power to service the equivalent of 1040 area homes.
“The project required EI Solutions to give special
consideration during the design phase to the aesthetic aspects of the system,
given the installation’s location in historic downtown Santa Barbara,” according to company spokesman Stephan West.

Under the
terms of the SurePath Solar PPA (Tioga’s proprietary power
purchase agreement), the company will be responsible for the operation and
maintenance of the solar PV system for the contract’s 20-year term. Santa Barbara will buy green
energy produced by the system at rates competitive to those for
traditional electric service. The agreement guarantees a predetermined pricing schedule, acting as an energy hedge protecting the city from future utility rate
increases, according to Tioga.

Jim Dewey, the city’s facility and energy manager, told PV-Tech that structural upgrades at the site have been in progress for awhile, and the installation of the electrical systems, module racks, modules, and other elements would “roll out next week.” The system “will be completed by the beginning of November.”

By completing the project before the end of the year, the city will be able to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit, which will expire on Dec. 31 unless the US Congress acts to extend it. 

EI president Andrew Beebe said in an interview with PV-Tech that the company has “done a tremendous amount of design work already,” adding that “the whole city’s been a joy to work with.”

Beebe said that in addition to the Suntech modules, Satcon inverters will be deployed for the Santa Barbara project. He also pointed to the excellent record of Suntech panels, noting how the company’s “[low] level of returns and problems in the field have been extraordinary compared to the industry averages, which gives us alot of confidence.”

Santa Barbara may add more solar to its energy porfolio in the near future. Dewey said that the city is finishing up plans for a “quick turnaround rental-car facility,” to be built as part of the newly renovated airport in the next few years, which will tentatively incorporate a 200-KW-type PV power system in its parking lot.

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