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The Oceanside Civic Center would benefit from a roof replacement, solar panels, new LED lighting and an updated HVAC system. File photo/The Coast News
The Oceanside Civic Center would benefit from a roof replacement, solar panels, new LED lighting and an updated HVAC system. File photo/The Coast News
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Oceanside to upgrade buildings for energy savings

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside City Council approved a $34 million project to improve energy efficiency in municipal buildings over the next 30 years, including installing solar panels and updating utility systems.

In late January, the Oceanside City Council approved an energy service contract, lease purchase agreement, and escrow lease contract with ENGIE Services to design and construct energy conservation facilities and implement cost-saving systems, like solar panels and updating HVAC and lighting.

ENGIE and city staff worked together to identify which facilities would most benefit from the project.

According to Deputy City Manager Rob O’Brien, the Civic Center building would benefit from a roof replacement, solar panels, LED lighting upgrades, and HVAC system replacement. 

“The chiller is well past its life expectancy,” O’Brien said. “The exhaust and supply fans throughout the Civic Center are in desperate need of replacement. The harsh environmental conditions resulting from our proximity to the ocean require full replacement of the aging and rusting parts.”

Other facilities that would benefit from LED lighting and new or upgraded HVAC systems include Chavez Resource Center, El Corazon Senior Center, the Fire Station Training Facility, several parks including Heritage, John Landes, Melba Bishop and Joe Balderrama, Libby Lake Community Center, Oceanside Senior Center and the San Luis Rey Wastewater Treatment Plant, among others.

The project would also install a 250-kilowatt/511-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery energy storage system to avoid peak demand hours and optimize energy rates at the Mission Lift Station, which O’Brien said was the only viable site for the battery system. The goal is to build enough battery storage for up to 500 kilowatts (1541 kilowatt-hours).

Potential locations for solar power include the El Corazon Senior Center, the Oceanside Navigation Center, the Robert Reese Water Filtration Plant, and the former Jolly Roger restaurant parking lot in the harbor.

The $21 million lease-purchase agreement with ENGIE has a 20-year term with a 3.99% interest rate and lease payments totaling approximately $30.9 million. Annual lease payments are estimated to be roughly $1.54 million. 

O’Brien said the city is estimated to pay approximately $34 million with financing included over the next 30 years and will save about $26 million in energy costs over the same period. 

The city will also own the solar panels to be installed through the project once they are paid off.

The building upgrades will help save on energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,764 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, furthering the city’s Climate Action Plan goals. 

Mayor Esther Sanchez was excited about the venture with ENGIE.

“I’ve been waiting 15 years, asking if we can go solar, being the model for the rest of our community, but I was told we’ve got to wait until it pencils out,” Sanchez said. “It’s a big investment – a great investment for our community.”

The City Council approved the contracts with ENGIE on Jan. 24 in a 4-0 vote with Councilmember Peter Weiss absent. At the same time, they also approved moving forward with the Crown Heights Community Center mural project.

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