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Alameda County Expands Use of Solar Energy with Solaria Power Plant at Santa Rita Jail

published: 2012-07-05 15:10

AlamedaCounty, recognized nationally as a leader in the effective use of renewable energy, has added a new 250kW solar power plant employing Solaria's proprietary STS-Azimuth tracking system to its portfolio of solar projects.

“It’s exciting to have Alameda County choose Solaria’s tracking system to expand the use of solar power at the Santa Rita Jail,” said Solaria CEO Dan Shugar. Alameda County, a trendsetter in solar deployment for more than a decade, is known to make practical, informed choices in their use of renewable energy technologies. This new Solaria solar power plant will provide Alameda County with a cost-effective, reliable, non-polluting system that will reduce the county’s electricity bill by over $2.2 million over the next 25 years, contributing to both the county’s budget and to the environmental health of the entire region.”

The Solaria STS-Azimuth tracking system consists of the company’s patented concentrating solar photovoltaic panels, solar tracking system, and specialized design services. Solaria’s concentrating solar panels multiply the energy yield of silicon while providing outstanding energy generation performance. The Solaria trackers ensure that the Solaria panels, which are designed for tracking systems, take full advantage of available solar energy by following the sun’s path across the sky throughout the day. Trackers produce up to 30% more energy than fixed arrays. And Solaria’s expert design services ensure that the system is designed for optimum system performance, highest energy yield and minimal environmental impact.

“We are proud to partner on this project with Solaria Corporation, a local manufacturer headquartered here in Alameda County,” stated Matt Muniz, Alameda County energy program manager. “By utilizing Solaria’s unique solar tracking technology, we have been able to increase the jail's renewable energy generation capacity by over 50%.”

Last month, Alameda County unveiled a microgrid that enables the county's Santa Rita Jail to sustain power should its connection to the utility grid be interrupted. The $11.7 million project, known as a smart grid, will allow Santa Rita Jail to ensure it has a supply of reliable electricity for its daily operations and security, and will save the county approximately $100,000 per year in energy costs. Chevron Energy Solutions designed, developed and built the project, which was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. The smart grid is the first of its kind in the country.

"Throughout our history, Alameda County has worked to integrate pioneering technologies into our operations," said Alameda County Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern. "The smart grid and new solar tracking systems at Santa Rita Jail continue that tradition, improving the community's grid stability while consistently providing a safe, secure and humane environment for inmates and staff." The smart grid and solar tracking projects are the culmination of several renewable energy projects implemented at the jail, including rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, a 1 MW fuel cell cogeneration plant, and wind turbines, along with a 2 MW advanced energy storage system.

The California Energy Commission provided nearly $2 million in funding for Alameda County's smart grid project, through its Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. In addition, the California Public Utility Commission's CSI Research, Development and Deployment Program funded the solar tracking project with over $600,000 in grant funding. These programs support public interest research and development that help improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace.

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