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Solar Parking Canopies Save Buses And Money

solar parking canopy
Solar power canopies at VTA’s North Maintenance Division in Mountain View, California.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has begun sheltering its buses while helping to power its maintenance facilities at the same time with solar parking canopy systems. The systems, recently installed at the VTA’s three bus maintenance divisions, produce a total of 2.1 megawatts of power and will save the company an estimated $2.7 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

VTA installed the systems in partnership with SunPower Corp., Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and Wells Fargo under a Power Purchase Agreement.

“VTA will be saving taxpayer money on energy costs while investing in a future that will benefit us all,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor and VTA Chair Ken Yeager. “VTA is already combating global warming through the promotion of mass transit and congestion management. Now, we are reducing greenhouse gases through our operations, too.”

“The VTA solar project aligns with the City of San Jose’s bold energy efficiency and renewable energy goals,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “This type of project also creates jobs and utilizes technologies from local clean tech companies, like SunPower, that have helped make our region a national leader in green tech innovation.”

The project provides significant environmental benefits. The power derived from the solar panel systems will offset VTA’s three bus maintenance divisions’ electricity demand. The clean electricity generated by these systems will also offset more than 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is equivalent to removing more than 9,000 cars from California’s roads or planting 10,000 acres of trees over the next 20 years.

“California’s public sector is expected to save $2.5 billion from solar investments under the state’s California Solar Initiative program,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “SunPower has delivered reliable, high efficiency solar power systems to public agencies across California, and we applaud the VTA’s significant commitment to solar here in the Silicon Valley, which will serve the community by minimizing operational costs and helping to achieve environmental goals.”

VTA financed the system through a power purchase agreement with SunPower. Under the terms of the agreement, Wells Fargo owns the systems that SunPower designed, built, operate, and maintain. VTA is hosting the systems and buying the electricity at prices that are competitive with retail rates, protected from rising electricity prices. VTA owns the renewable energy credits and environmental benefits associated with the system.

For VTA’s solar project, SunPower constructed three solar parking canopy systems using 5,070 SunPower E19/425 high-efficiency solar panels, which will also provide shade and protection for VTA vehicles. Two of the solar installations are located at the VTA’s San Jose facilities, including a 548-kilowatt (kW) system at its Chaboya Division and a 969-kW system at its Cerone Division. The third installation is a 637-kW system at the VTA North Division facility in Mountain View.

The solar project is part of a long-term vision to meet today’s needs without compromising future generations through VTA’s Sustainability Program.

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