Alameda County dedicates 1.18 MW solar electric rooftop system

OAKLAND, CA, April 26, 2002 – The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has dedicated the nation’s largest rooftop solar electric system, located atop the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California.

Joining in today’s dedication were William Keese, Chairman of the California Energy Commission, Barbara Hale, Director of Strategic Planning for the California Public Utilities Commission, Jeanne Clinton, Deputy Director of Conservation and Distributed Generation for the California Power Authority, and Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Scott Haggerty.

PowerLight Corporation of Berkeley, CA, the manufacturer and installer of large-scale solar electric systems, installed the first solar array on the Santa Rita Jail during the summer of 2001. The solar photovoltaic (PV) system performed so well and yielded such significant savings that PowerLight was commissioned to increase the County’s initial solar generation system of 640 kilowatts to 1.18 megawatts.

Covering approximately three acres of the jail’s roof, this on-site solar system is the largest PV rooftop system in the United States. In addition, PowerLight worked with CMS Viron to integrate energy efficiency measures with the solar generation system to maximize energy savings. “Alameda County installed photovoltaics because the economics were so compelling,” said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, President of the Board of Supervisors.

“Because our energy generation and cost savings were higher than projected, we decided to purchase additional solar generation from PowerLight.” “Since the 1970’s, California has led the nation in developing new technologies for renewable energy sources as well as creating standards for energy efficiency,” said Energy Commission Chairman Keese.

“The simplicity and common sense of combining roofing materials with electricity generation is perfect for a State committed to balancing economic growth with environmental considerations. The Commission is proud to be among the en tities that provided the impetus for PowerLight Corporation to bring solar energy technologies successfully into commercial fruition. “

“Clean kilowatt hours are too precious to waste,” said the California Power Authority’s Deputy Director of Conservation and Distributed Generation Jeanne Clinton. “By integrating on-site solar power generation with energy efficiency measures, Alameda County has demonstrated its leadership in defining both clean and cost-efficient energy solutions.”

“The combined solar electric power and energy efficiency solutions we implemented through our relationship with PowerLight reflect the future of the energy industry,” noted Alameda County Energy Program Manager Matt Muniz.

“With solar electric generation, we reduced our overall energy cost, and in particular, reduced our purchases of expensive, peak energy from our local utility. With energy efficiency and demand side management technologies, we have maximized the value of our solar investment, while at the same time modernized our facility.” “We applaud Alameda County for their environmental stewardship by using clean on-site solar electric power and energy conservation,” noted Tom Dinwoodie, CEO of PowerLight.

“This project exemplifies how local governments can improve air quality while saving taxpayers’ dollars.”

Alameda County’s solar powered installation, equivalent to powering 1,000 homes, spares the environment from thousands of tons of harmful emissions such as CO2, NOX, and SOX, which are major contributors to smog, acid rain and global warming.

PowerLight’s patented PowerGuard® solar roof tiles insulate and protect the roof while generating clean solar electricity. For this project, PowerLight incorporated high-efficiency solar cells from AstroPower (NASDAQ:APWR) and BP Solar, a BP Group company.

To date, the combined project has reduced the facility’s peak summer demand consumption of grid-generated electricity by 35%. Already, over 2.5 million kilowatt-hours of annual electricity consumption are diverted from California’s electric grid by the Santa Rita Jail project. These savings benefit all State consumers by reducing grid power purchases, most of which occur during peak electrical demand hours – at times when state transmission lines are the most constrained.

Based on current PG&E electricity rates, the total project savings for Alameda County are about $425,000 in the first year of operation, and $15 million in net savings over the 25-year life of the project. Partial funding for the projects came from the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Emerging Renewable Buydown program, incentives from California PUC, and prior energy efficiency incentive payments.

The County received a low interest rate energy efficiency loan from the CEC, and did not have to authorize any general fund revenues to finance its solar electric generation and energy efficiency projects. The project’s electrical cost savings will pay the debt service for this loan.

“Energy is a vital resource. As it becomes increasingly expensive, other public agencies will follow Alameda County’s lead and perform energy efficiency upgrades to help manage costs and revitalize aging facilities.

Such leadership by the County not only serves to protect our environment, but also creates job opportunities in California for the growing energy efficiency industry,” said CMS Viron President John Mahoney. Alameda County invites the public to learn more about this project and view, in real time, the performance of the solar power system at its website:

About PowerLight PowerLight ( is the manufacturer of commercial-scale solar electric products and services. Founded in 1991, PowerLight’s systems solutions deliver reliable, affordable clean power for commercial and government customers worldwide. Inc. Magazine has ranked the PowerLight Corporation among the top 500 fastest growing privately held companies in 2000 and 2001.

Today, PowerLight has worldwide offices and a full line of commercial solar electric products. About CMS Viron Energy Services CMS Viron Energy Services, a subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation, is an engineering-based energy services company specializing in energy performance contracting and turnkey energy projects. CMS Energy Corporation is a $15 billion international energy company operating in 21 countries around the world.

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