Rancho California's Solar System Powers Up

Rancho California Water District (RCWD) and SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar products, announced March 24 the completion of a 1.1-megawatt solar-electric power system at the district's water treatment facility in Murrieta.

The system produces a portion of the facilities' electricity requirements and is expected to save the district up to $6.8 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

In addition to designing and building the solar power system, SunPower also financed the system under a SunPower Access power purchase agreement (PPA). RCWD will buy electricity from SunPower at rates competitively priced against utility rates, providing the district with a long-term hedge against rising peak power prices. RCWD owns the renewable energy credits associated with the system.

"The SunPower Access PPA made it financially possible for the district to build this system and reap the benefits of competitively priced solar power from day one," said Andy Webster, director of engineering for RCWD. "SunPower offered high-efficiency technology that maximizes the amount of solar power generated, and a turnkey solution that allowed the system to be operational in eight months. It's good for our environment as well as for our residents and businesses."

For the district, SunPower installed a system that utilizes SunPower solar panels with the SunPower Tracker(R) system. The Tracker follows the sun's movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 30 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems. The system will reduce more than 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to removing close to 202 cars from the road.