The Coast News Group

Nine Oceanside facilities to be powered by solar energy by fall

OCEANSIDE — Nine city facilities will soon be powered by solar energy. The benefits of the clean energy project are many. They include carbon dioxide reduction, reliable electricity at a set rate, protection against future rate increases and reduced dependence on SDG&E.

“The benefits of this project include reducing the equivalent of 478 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which translates to planting 725 trees, or taking 85 cars off the road for an entire year,” John McKelvey, city water utilities senior management analyst, said.

Oceanside has a 25-year agreement to buy generated electricity from PFMG Solar at a price below SDG&E rates. In return, the company will install and maintain the solar energy systems. Construction will be completed by Primoris Renewable Energy, a subcontractor to PFMG Solar.

“The city has no cost for installation or maintenance,” McKelvey said. “We only pay for the electricity that is generated.”

Councilman Jerry Kern said the project is a good step forward in utilizing renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide.

“We have 320 days of sunshine we should capitalize on,” Kern said. “Lower energy costs are an immediate benefit.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in March 2016 at Fire Station 7, which will be one of the first sites to have solar panels installed. Since the groundbreaking, the project has moved through design and permitting.

The first phase of construction will begin soon.

“Construction of the solar sites involves site preparation, which may include removal of lights and/or trees, digging support pier bases and erecting steel, installation of the solar panels and electrical work,” McKelvey said. “The impact on the public will be minimal.”

During phase 1 covered parking will be built to hold solar panels at Fire Station 7, Melba Bishop Community Center, El Corazon Senior Center and the city Operations Center.

Additionally, new roofs will be installed on two buildings at the Police Headquarters on Mission Avenue to bear the weight of the solar panels.

PFMG will cover the costs of adding covered parking structures and the new roofs as part of systems installation.

Each system is sized to meet a little less than the total site energy needs.

“PFMG and the city estimated that approximately 74 percent of our power needs will be offset by solar power,” McKelvey said.

In September, phase 2 of the project will add solar panels to Fire Stations 4 and 6, the Fire Training Center and Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

Work at the city park site will necessitate temporary closure of the main parking lot. 

“The city is working with nearby schools and affected parties to minimize the impacts; however, closures will be necessary,” McKelvey said.

Oceanside also has solar panels in operation at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility from a previous Power Purchase Agreement.

Phase 1 construction for the current project begins this week.

PFMG Solar has completed similar projects in Orange County and Palmdale.