Recently the City of Palo Alto announced that a large-scale solar project the City has contracted to supply clean, renewable energy to its public power utility customers began commercial operations. The Redwood Hayworth Solar Farm located in Bakersfield, California is the last of three facilities to be brought on line at the Redwood Solar Farm by sPower, an independent power producer and developer. sPower is a leading renewable energy provider which has power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the City of Palo Alto Utilities, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company for the energy output at the Redwood Solar Farm. sPower’s 59 megawatt (MW) cluster of projects in Kern County include the Hayworth Solar Farm (26MW), Redcrest Solar Farm (16MW) and Woodmere (15MW).
“We admire the City of Palo Alto’s progressive and environmentally-focused approach. Their streamlined procurement process for utility-scale projects and permitting for residential PV permits is bold proof of their commitment to achieving the City’s net-zero goals,” said sPower CEO, Ryan Creamer. “We’re also proud that our Redwood Hayworth project is among the more than 700MW of renewables projects sPower has planned for delivery over the next 12 months.”In 2013, the Palo Alto City Council voted to make the City’s electricity supply 100% carbon neutral. The City has many long-term contracts for clean energy resources in its portfolio, including solar, wind, hydroelectric generation and renewable gas from landfills. And the City’s utility rates have remained extremely competitive with surrounding areas.
“Palo Alto has a long record of leadership in environmental sustainability,” said Gil Friend, the City of Palo Alto’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “In keeping with the City’s efforts to combat climate change, the City has adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring that 33% of the City’s retail electric sales be supplied by eligible renewable energy resources well in advance of the state requirement to achieve that standard. Palo Altans should be especially excited about the successful startup of the Hayworth Solar project, because with that event, the City’s electric supply portfolio now exceeds the 33% RPS milestone – solely through the City’s long-term renewable energy contracts.”
Because the renewable energy supplies the City is purchasing are so cost-competitive, the overall rate impact of exceeding the 33% RPS level is only 0.23 cents per kWh ($0.0023 per kWh), or less than $1 per month for a typical home.The City has over 125 MW of solar power commitments throughout California, including five new solar power purchase agreements the City has signed over the past few years. By the end of 2016, all five projects should be online. At that point, solar energy will supply about one-third of Palo Alto’s total electricity needs on an annual basis.