Plans to build a giant solar canopy at the cityâ€™s Municipal Service Centerâ€”deemed too costly in 2013â€”are going back out to bid this summer in hopes of a better result.
â€śThis would be the cityâ€™s first solar carport structure,â€ť Helen Cox, the cityâ€™s sustainability division manager, said in an email.
The city has set aside just shy of $2 million toward the cost of construction, money it expects will be paid back both in federal grants and in energy savings.
A staff report indicates the payback period would be between 12 and 16 years, a figure dependent on the final cost.
The canopy, which will be at least 14 feet tall, is expected to cover most of the south end of the parking lot used by the cityâ€™s fleet, providing shade to city buses and Dial-A-Ride vans while at the same time drawing energy from the sun.
It is expected to have a surface area close to half an acre (around 22,000 square feet), enough room for panels that can generate 625,000 kilowatt-hours of energy a year. The energy produced would cover the electricity needs of the entire service center, Cox said.
â€śIt could be a single long span structure or possibly two rows,â€ť Cox said. â€śThe city is not specifying the exact design; this will be left to the solar designer/developer to propose.â€ť
A bus parking area was built at the center in 2013 with plans for a solar carport, but the latter was scrapped after construction costs came in higher than expected.
The plans got new life in 2018 when the council adopted a sustainability plan that called for more on-site solar generation at city-owned facilities. Currently, there are solar panels atop the Hillcrest Center for the Arts and a small one at the Cameron Center on Greenmeadow Drive in Newbury Park.
The cityâ€™s largest collection of panels is at the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant, where over 2,700 panels use a motorized system to track the sun as it travels across the sky.
The solar carport at the Municipal Service Center would be installed adjacent to the household hazardous waste disposal facility. According to a timeline approved by the council July 7, the city expects to accept a bid by fall and hopes to see the carport up and running by summer 2021.