The 348-watt photovoltaic system was designed and built by Borrego Solar Systems Inc., which will continue to operate and maintain it, in partnership with Zone 7. The water agency will then buy all of the electricity the plant produces at a fixed rate.
"This is a win-win for our water ratepayers and for the environment," said John Greci, president of the Zone 7 Board of Directors. "Zone 7 is trying to set an example, to set a green footprint and be responsible to our ratepayers at the same time."
The solar panels will produce about a third of the energy Zone 7 uses in water treatment and other operations at the Del Valle plant. The savings in energy costs is expected to be greater than $800,000 for the 20-year term of the agreement, although they could be higher if power costs go up.
Greci also said that Zone 7 continues to explore more ways to "optimize its energy use" in water treatment, groundwater pumping and overall operations.
The project was financed with a Power Purchase Agreement with Borrego, which designed, built, owns and maintains the solar power installation on Zone 7 property. In return for use of the land, Borrego agreed to sell the solar energy to Zone 7 at pre-determined rates for 20 years. This is currently 28 percent less per kilowatt-hour than the PG&E grid rate.
The agreement did not require any upfront costs for Zone 7, and it allowed Borrego to take advantage of federal tax credits.