Looming budget cuts threaten San Jose’s expansive solar plan

The gloomy financial forecast which has San Jose thinking about shuttering its branch libraries and community centers next summer time may also claim another casualty: a money-saving photo voltaic project in the centre of Mayor Chuck Reed’s clean-energy plan.

The threatened closures could kill intends to install solar power panels free of charge towards the city around the roofs or parking lots at libraries and community centers.

Despite the fact that stark scenario — a setback to Reed’s Eco-friendly Vision plan — the town Council on Tuesday will consider whether or not to proceed on energy purchase contracts with San Mateo-based SolarCity to set up and keep solar power panels on 28 city-possessed sites, including 23 branch libraries and community centers.

“Among my goals would be to reduce and sometimes get 1 / 2 of our electricity from clean, alternative energy sources, and to get it done along with other individuals money,” Reed stated.

The financing mechanism is what helps make the deal so appealing.

An employee memo setting out the initial proposal implies that SolarCity would pay to set up and keep the photo voltaic array systems each and every site. But much more likely due to the city’s budget problems, sources say, photo voltaic is going to be installed only at five from the 28 locations: the Municipal Water Office, Police Activities League Sports Center, South Service Yard, Kelley Park and Prusch Park.

In exchange, San Jose would accept purchase the electricity produced through the system from SolarCity for 25 years, with two five-year options.

As initially planned, a cell system whatsoever 28 sites would produce about 68 percent from the electricity needed by individuals facilities, which may save San Jose $140,000 within the newbie and $5.7 million over two decades.

The 28 sites could generate 4 megawatts of energy, additionally to a minimum of 2.5 megawatts of photo voltaic already installed across a minimum of 13 city or redevelopment agency facilities.

Photo voltaic skillfully developed say that certain megawatt of photo voltaic can energy about 200 homes.

City authorities wouldn’t say just how much financial savings would derive from a more compact cell project at just five sites, but as San Jose heads into its eleventh straight consecutive budget shortfall, savings associated with a amount may help.

San Jose projects a deficit the coming year believed at $78 million to $115 million, and deficits not less than 5 years next.

Reed stated the city staff tried an initial analysis to develop a listing of the greatest city-possessed sites for photo voltaic. But which was before last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, in which the anemic 2012-13 fiscal year budget was talked about and also the stunning chance of closing all city libraries and community centers was detailed openly.

That announcement transformed the outlook for that current proposal, Reed yet others stated.

Now, city staff will re-evaluate each place to determine whether photo voltaic is suitable at this site and if the facility should remain open, stated Tom Manheim, the town manager’s spokesperson.

While setting up solar power panels on empty structures might appear lucrative — in the end, San Jose could sell its surplus electricity to PG&E — some city authorities the finances might not pencil out. Like PG&E pays under market rate for surplus electricity.

“What’s obvious to everyone is it wouldn’t seem sensible to maneuver forward (with photo voltaic) on the facility that eventually ends up getting a internet cost versus an advantage,Inch Manheim stated.

Kerrie Romanow, the city’s acting environment services director, stressed that any photo voltaic project proposal cannot dip in to the city’s general-fund coffers.

“Lots of metropolitan areas are setting up photo voltaic and might be having to pay a bit more in the last years” to achieve that, Romanow stated. “But this technique needs to include cost-free — it needs to break even or cut costs in year one.”

Reed contended when photo voltaic is not placed on all 28 sites, adding solar power panels to even a number of sites is going to be useful.

Whether SolarCity continues to be aboard having a more compact project is not certain. A business spokesperson rejected to comment Friday, though city authorities stated SolarCity continued to be committed after being told a week ago the project could be scaly back.

“It might shrink a lot that SolarCity is bored with the package, but that appears unlikely,” Reed stated. Still, “they need to have the ability to make a move which makes economic sense on their behalf.Inch

On Friday, SolarCity reported the U.S. Energy Department told the organization it will not develop a $275 million conditional loan guarantee it agreed to SolarCity before a Sept. 30 deadline.

DOE authorities based their decision on elevated documentation needs which have resulted in the current congressional analysis in to the personal bankruptcy of Solyndra, the Fremont cell maker.