Jail to Boast Largest Rooftop Solar Power System

Jail to Boast Largest Rooftop Solar Power System

When the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved the installation of a 500-kilowatt solar electric system on the roof of the Santa Rita Jail here in Dublin, it greenlighted the largest rooftop solar power system in the United States.

The system, to be installed by PowerLight Corporation, will employ a combination of solar power generation, an energy savings from the roof insulation provided by the system, and an upgrade to the jail's air conditioning system. PowerLight expects to cut the jail's energy costs by $190,000 per year, for a total savings of $5.5 million over the next 25 years.

Alameda County supervisor Scott Haggerty, president of the Board of Supervisors, lauded the Board’s February approval of the system, and said his county has reduced electricity use by more than 30% “in the past several years,” saving more than $3 million every year by doing so.

"But because we want to take a leadership role in energy conservation, we are committed to exploring every option to reduce our energy consumption and save taxpayer dollars. We are confident that solar energy is a very smart addition to our overall energy strategy," Haggerty said.

For his part, Alameda County Energy Program manager Matt Muniz estimates that Alameda County will save an average of $190,000 in electricity costs per year as a result of deploying solar power -- leading to $5.5 million in overall savings.

"By installing PowerLight’s PowerGuard system, we’ll reduce costs, reduce pollution and conserve natural resources. (This) solar installation will not only supply us with clean power, but will also deliver HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) benefits as well," Muniz said.

Statewide Efforts

In a related story, California cut its electricity use by 8% in February, reducing electricity demand by 2,578 megawatts, according to Gov. Gray Davis. The savings -- enough to power more than 2.5 million homes -- helped California recover from the tight electricity supplies that persisted for most of the month.

However, Davis predicts that Californians will "need to do even better and save at least
10 percent to get through the summer."

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RELATED LINKS:

Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Source Reduction & Recycling Board

GreenBiz Energy Efficiency Resource Center