Water district in California's Central Valley powered by the sun

Shell Solar and Semitropic Water Storage District dedicate a 980-kW solar electric power system at the water district's treatment and storage facility in Wasco, Calif. Designed and installed by Shell Solar, the system utilizes a unique patent-pending single-axis tracking system. Shell Solar developed this new tracking system specifically for this project to deliver maximum energy production by allowing the panels in the solar arrays to move and "follow the sun" across the sky...

CAMARILLO, CA, April 29, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Shell Solar and the Semitropic Water Storage District announce the dedication of a 980-kilowatt solar electric power system at the water district's treatment and storage facility in Wasco, Calif.

Designed and installed by Shell Solar, the system utilizes a unique patent-pending single-axis tracking system. Shell Solar developed this new tracking system specifically for this project to deliver maximum energy production by allowing the panels in the solar arrays to move and "follow the sun" across the sky.

For enhanced reliability and lower installation costs, Shell Solar made use of its distinctive "panelization" process whereby multiple modules are factory assembled into large panels at its Camarillo manufacturing facility. Comprised of 1,920 Shell PowerMaxTM Ultra panels, the system covers an area about the size of four football fields. Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) contributed to the value of the system by offsetting about half the cost through its Self Generation Incentive Program.

Widely known as a leader in energy conservation, this solar energy system will be the 'crown jewel' for Semitropic to demonstrate its dedication toward environmental stewardship among the water districts.

Will Boschman, Semitropic general manager, said, "We have a long standing relationship with Shell as an energy company. We are not only doing business with Shell Solar but also with Shell Trading, a Shell division. We were fortunate through the bidding process to be able to keep this project under the same umbrella." He added, "Solar is attractive in that it provides a low cost, long-term base load power source that avoids expensive on-peak utility power."

Nearly half the cost of the system is covered by PG&E under their Self-Generation Incentive Program. The solar project is on track to receive a $2,986,050 rebate from PG&E, the single largest solar rebate check handed out by the utility to date.

"PG&E is proud to have partnered with Semitropic Water District on this project that will provide environmental and financial benefits for years to come," said Beverly Alexander, vice president of customer satisfaction for the utility. "PG&E has a long-standing commitment to energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy, and applauds the district directors for their foresight."

Pacific Gas & Electric's Self-Generation Incentive Program provides the financial incentive, to help pay the cost of on-site electric generating systems utilizing solar, wind, fuel cell, micro turbine or cogeneration systems.

Installing a large solar power system has proven to be a sound, economic investment. Calculated over the expected 25-year lifespan of the system, the predicted energy savings for the district is nearly $3.3 million. Annually the system is projected to deliver 1,729,000 kilowatt hours of electricity or 10,000 acre feet of water shipped to customers.

Solar is also good for the community and the environment. The community benefits from the Shell Solar photovoltaic system employing local contractors for the installation of this massive project. As a non-emitting power source, this installation will ease the significant air pollution issue in the Central Valley of California. The system is projected to avoid 1,763,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually.

Shell Solar (www.shellsolar.com) has been active in the solar business for over 30 years and is committed to the commercial development and supply of solar as a viable energy source now and a significant portion in the future. To date, Shell Solar has supplied solar cells and modules with a total capacity of more than 400 megawatts worldwide, specializing in applications for large commercial installations as well as individual households. Over a quarter of a million customers have been served in supplying grid-connected and off-grid solar systems. Shell Solar is active in more than 75 countries with a workforce of 1,300 and is part of Shell Renewables, a core business of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies (www.shellus.com).

Semitropic is an agricultural water district located in Kern County in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. The district is interested in reducing its current annual cost of electricity. Semitropic uses on the order of 10-20 megawatts of electricity and generates and distributes about 25% of its power to its existing pumping loads. Semitropic also operates a 1.65 million acre-foot groundwater storage program that requires pumping of water going into storage as well as withdrawal of water to provide drought year supply for State-wide urban water users.

###

More in Energy Management