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From Dump to Dynamo: EPA Launches Giant Solar Project in Bay Area

On May 13, 2015, at Hayward, California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) celebrated the launching of the first project by the Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Program (R-REP), described as “an unprecedented collaboration of government agencies.”

The head of the EPA, local officials and executives from the solar power industry met at the 24-acre West Winton former landfill, situated across the bay from San Francisco, where 19,000 solar panels will be installed. The project also represents the launch of the Federal Aggregated Solar Procurement Project (FASPP), the first federal partnership to purchase solar power across multiple federal agencies: the Forest Service, the Department of Energy and the General Services Administration. It was inspired by the R-REP program.

“This is about reducing carbon emissions, saving money and growing jobs. It’s a win all over the place,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. She added, “Combining the purchasing power of local and federal governments is a common-sense approach to combating climate change, reducing taxpayer costs, and spurring innovation.”

Four Bay Area counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara – pooled their resources for the R-REP project, which will save tax dollars through economies of scale. The West Winton solar system, which is expected to be completed next year by SunEdison, will generate 6.6 MW of energy, enough to provide power to over 1200 homes, and is one of the largest urban solar projects in California. It will be financed through cost-saving power-purchase agreements: the solar vendors will own the panels, while the counties will pay for the energy through the utility PG&E. Public sites that will receive power include community centers, libraries, fire stations, medical facilities, city halls and educational facilities.

It is estimated that the R-REP programs collectively will involve 186 solar sites, power 19 Bay Area public agencies, create 839 jobs, generate 31 MW of solar power and result in $108 million in savings. The collaborative procurement of renewable energy is anticipated to provide these benefits to public agencies:

  1. Reduced transaction costs and administrative time;

  2. Competitive contract terms compared to similar projects;

  3. Standardized procurement documents, financing and process;

  4. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; and

  5. Local economic activity and job growth.

Susan Muranishi, Alameda County Administrator, was quoted as saying, “This project is nothing short of transformational” for creating a model for government agencies to maximize their resources and to overcome environmental threats.


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