CA developer installs 13K solar panels in huge Sonoma sustainability initiative

Sonoma Mountain Village in California—the first One Planet community in North America—is about to put the finishing touches on a massive solar project (nearly 13k solar panels!), projected to save the businesses already there and future residents millions of dollars in coming years. The completed solar installation will offset more than 50 percent of the site’s total energy with clean renewable power generated onsite.

SOMO Village is arguably one of the ‘greenest’ mixed use developments in the country; the billion-dollar property, owned and operated by Codding Enterprises, is a sprawling, 600,000 square-foot mixed-use campus—a diverse mix of energy-intensive properties that include a food processing facility, restaurants, and apartment buildings—consumes about 9 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy annually.

SOMO Village (SOMO) is a mixed-use development that provides power to over 600,000 square feet of commercial space and eventually to 1,500 residential homes. The billion-dollar redevelopment focuses on combining nature, comfort and innovation and provides its residents with a modern, sustainable way of life. Its mixed-use campus—a diverse mix of uses that include food processing, manufacturing, commercial IT space, event center, restaurant, and eventually residential —consumes about 9 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy annually.  The tenants share in all of the energy resources utilized by SOMO Village.

As part of the One Planet Living Program, SOMO Village created a detailed Sustainability Action Plan based on 10 sustainability and cultural principles and chose REC Solar to add approximately 2 megawatts (MWs) to its existing solar installation – furthering the development’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Neighborhood Design (LEED-ND) Platinum project plans.

REC Solar kept the additional development current with building codes and fluctuating California net metering and interconnect rules while maximizing available solar rebate programs to provide a solar solution that delivers 35 percent bill savings on the facility’s large meter and 90 percent bill savings offset on its smaller meter. The final combined systems will save approximately $680,000 per year – a 30-year cumulative savings of over $20 million!

Building on SOMO’s existing 1MW solar installation that cost $6/watt in 2008, REC Solar has nearly tripled the solar capacity and halved the cost per watt at SOMO Village. With a 1 MW installation completed in 2012 at a price of $3.50/watt and an additional 806.4 kilowatts (kW) currently under construction and projected at an even lower cost per watt, SOMO Village will have 13,333 roof top solar panels —7,488 of which were installed by REC Solar – to offset more than 50 percent of the site’s total energy with clean renewable power generated onsite.

“SOMO Village is about home and work lifestyles focused on what matters most – high quality living and innovative, flexible spaces. As the first One Planet Living community in North America, we are guided by a framework of 10 principles of sustainability and economic vitality for healthy, happy lifestyles within our fair share of the Earth’s resources. This is our third solar phase with REC Solar and we rely on their expertise to guide us to the best technologies, opportunities, practices and savings.”

Source: Brad Baker, President, SOMO Village