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City adds Solar Photovoltaic Technology to bundle of sustainability and green power initiatives.

This is one in a series of Nation's Cities Weekly articles drawing on the resources and expertise of NLC's Corporate Partners.

Located in the heart of some of the most productive farmland in the world, City of Tulare, Calif., leaders have been good stewards of taxpayer money, while keeping an eye on the natural resources that provide the lifeblood for this agricultural community.

This is evidenced by a host of energy efficiency and water conservation initiatives implemented with the help of Johnson Controls. Added to this bundle of initiatives is a multi-phase photovoltaic solar energy project that will help make the city's wastewater treatment plant self-sustaining, and ultimately provide a source of revenue.

As a result of all these efforts, Tulare is expected to save more than $13.9 million in energy costs, and avoided capital and operating costs.

Through a 15-year performance contract, Johnson Controls developed a comprehensive program for significant upgrades to the city's domestic water infrastructure, along with expanded energy services and capital improvements. The improvements are financed through energy and operational savings resulting from the upgrades.

Included in the program was the installation of a 30-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system on a carport at the city's wastewater treatment plant that provides more than $13,000 of the annual savings.

Tulare is committed to continuously increasing its on-site green power generation.

In fact, the city joined the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Partnership, which encourages the voluntary use of green power to reduce the risk of climate change. Tulare was ranked number 15 on the EPA's Top 20 On-Site Partner List for July 2011, as a result of its efforts at the wastewater treatment plant.

The plant already generates 32 percent of the electricity it uses on site. The electricity is produced by four biogas-powered fuel cells, which generate a total of 1.2 megawatts of power, reducing the overall operating costs of the plant and saving its sewer customers money in the long run.

"The solar PV project is the next step in the city's efforts to be more self sustaining and generate as much energy on site as possible, and will further improve our ranking with the EPA," says Lew Nelson, public works director. "We knew that solar power was a viable option, but instead of adding more smaller installations like the carport, we wanted to maximize incentives from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and leverage American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to build a larger PV system at the wastewater treatment plant."

Serving as the general contractor, Johnson Controls was responsible for the design and installation of a one-megawatt solar PV system on land adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant.

The system will generate more than 1,860,000-kilowatt hours annually and is expected to save Tulare more than $6.4 million in energy and operational costs over 15 years.

In addition to the design and installation, Johnson Controls facilitated the interconnect agreement with the local electrical utility and assisted Tulare with the documentation required to apply for available funding. The city was awarded more than $2.3 million through the CSI Program and a $493,000 ARRA grant.

Tulare took a big step toward meeting state mandates well ahead of schedule, while significantly improving its infrastructure and furthering its sustainability initiatives.

"Johnson Controls has become a valuable resource for us. They developed a solution that met our immediate needs and are providing further value by helping us achieve our green energy goals with the solar PV project," said Nelson.
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Author:Cusick, Cynthia
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 31, 2011
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