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City looks into earth-friendly solar power

OCEANSIDE — SunEdison presented an overview of a proposed solar photo-voltaic system at a community workshop held June 9. The solar system promises to fuel part of the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation facility at a lower cost and reduce the plant’s carbon footprint.
The proposed system consists of 3,660 6-foot solar panels, a sun tracking system and two generators. The system has the capacity to provide 60 percent of the electricity demands for the most heavily used meter at the water reclamation plant at 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour, a cent less per kilowatt hour then the city currently pays SDG&E, Mo Lahsaie, clean water program coordinator, said.
The cost savings for electricity over 20 years is estimated to be $1.2 million. “Electricity is a big part of our budget,” Cari Dale, water utilities director, said.
In addition to saving money, the solar system will reduce the plant’s overall electricity use by 25 percent. This will help fulfill the state mandate to reduce the city’s dependence on nonrenewable energy by 33 percent by 2020.
The proposed contract asks the city to agree to a power purchase agreement with SunEdison for 20 years, starting at a rate of 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour, with a 3 percent rate increase per year. In return SunEdison will install and maintain the solar system. “We’ll monitor the system 24/7,” Sam Youneszadeh, regional sales manager, said.
At the end of 20 years the city has an opportunity to extend the contract, buy the system, or request its removal.
Purchasing the solar system may be considered in the future, but it is not the Water Utilities Department’s recommendation that the city buy the costly $8 million system at this time, Lahsaie said.
The proposal was approved by the Utilities Commission on June 15 and will go to City Council on July 14. The cost of power and annual rate increase was an initial concern of the Utilities Commission. Alternative power purchase agreement terms were considered and the 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour rate, with a 3 percent increase per year, was determined to be the best for deal for the city.
Some residents at the workshop expressed concern about the visual impact of the solar system, which will sprawl over eight acres at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation facility site.xx