August 14, 2007 > AC Transit Harnesses the Sun
AC Transit Harnesses the Sun
Reduces Greenhouse Gases with New Solar Power System
Submitted By Clarence Johnson
Over the 30-year life of the system, AC Transit expects to save $5 million in utility costs as a result of the clean, renewable solar power that the system will generate. It will offset the production of more than 14.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions -- equivalent to planting 2,000 acres of trees or removing 1,400 cars from California's highways.
"AC Transit is committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improving the quality of life for the entire region in which we operate," said AC Transit General Manager Rick Fernandez. "While installing a solar system to power our facilities makes a great deal of financial sense, it will also provide more than enough power to offset the 189,000 kilowatt hours per year required to operate AC Transit's hydrogen production facility, and help lower the overall amount of energy we use from conventional sources."
MMA Renewable Ventures will finance and own AC Transit's solar power systems under the SunPower Access(tm) program, which allows SunPower customers to purchase solar-generated electricity from a SunPower financing partner as an alternative to outright purchase of the solar power systems. AC Transit will pay MMA Renewable Ventures for the solar electricity generated over a long-term power purchase agreement. At the end of the term specified under the agreement, AC Transit will have the option to renew the agreement, transfer the equipment to a new site, or purchase the system outright from MMA Renewable Ventures.
"AC Transit selected an innovative financing structure to effectively meet its financial goals and environmental objectives," said Matt Cheney, chief executive officer of MMA Renewable Ventures. "With its forward-thinking approach and commitment to clean energy, AC Transit is demonstrating that solar power is an affordable option for public agencies concerned with reducing carbon emissions."
"AC Transit is an environmental leader that is doing its part to address our ongoing energy challenges," said Howard Wenger, SunPower vice president. "By generating solar power, AC Transit is reducing demand from the utility grid, reducing operating costs, and improving air quality for its community. This energy solution saves money while helping the environment."
A large portion of the installation cost of these solar systems was covered by a $1.9 million incentive from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, under California's Self Generation Incentive Program. Through this program, PG&E can provide almost $950 million in incentives over the next 10 years to help customers buy their own solar systems.
AC Transit's new solar power system is the latest in a number of programs that the agency has initiated to promote a clean environment. Since 2000, the agency has been developing the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project in the world, featuring zero-emission hybrid-electric, hydrogen fuel cell buses; a fleet of fuel cell passenger vehicles; on-site hydrogen production and fueling; on-site fleet maintenance; ongoing, outside evaluation; and public education and safety training. Installed exhaust after-treatment traps on AC Transit's fleet have cut particulate pollution and the agency uses ultra-low sulfur fuel, which results in a 76 percent average reduction in hydrocarbon emissions while averaging a 29 percent reduction of carbon monoxide and particulate matter emissions. AC Transit was the first transit agency to join the California Climate Action Registry, created in 2001 by the State as a way for each industry to monitor its own greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information about MMA Renewable Ventures, visit www.mmarenewableventures.com.
For more information about SunPower, visit www.sunpowercorp.com. SunPower is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: CY).
Additional information about AC Transit's environmental programs is available at www.actransit.org/environment.