An East Mesa Solar Power System at a prison. Yup! You heard it!!

This is without a doubt: The biggest photovoltaic system on County property, the East Mesa Solar Power System is saving the County $1.3 million in power costs over 20 years.

“This used to be a bare parking lot. So now it’s generating energy whenever the sun’s out. That came from Supervisor Greg Cox. “It’s a smart and painless way for the County to save taxpayer money while tapping into a sustainable, clean power source.”

So the photovoltaic system is mounted on dozens of steel canopies. All that spread across the parking lot and shade visitors’ cars. Furthermore, the solar panels produce an estimated 1.6 million kilowatt hours of energy in the first year. Similarly about 12 percent of the detention complex’s total power needs.

Image Courtesy SunEdison and Nortap Aerial Services

solar from sunedison

The East Mesa detention complex includes the George Bailey Detention Center and the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Center.

East Mesa Solar Power System

  1. Largest solar power system on County property
  2. 1 megawatt (one million watt) system

  3. Provides 12 percent of detention complex’s power

  4. Expected savings: $1.3 million over 20 years

“Jails are 24-7 operations, and by their very nature they need a lot of energy,” Sheriff Bill Gore said. “Under AB 109, we’ll be housing more felons locally and facing increased jail costs, so we’re glad for the new power savings.”

The system’s clean energy represents about 843 tons of greenhouse gases that would otherwise enter the atmosphere each year. That’s equivalent to not driving more than 1.7 million miles each year or planting over 19,600 trees.

The solar power plant is part of a power purchase agreement (PPA) in which SunEdison finances, constructs, operates and maintains the entire job and array with 0 down for the County. DUH!!!  No brainer; right??

In return, the County purchases the energy produced at long-term predictable rates, which are expected to be below market value, for 20 years.  

Finally, the East Mesa solar power system is the second large photovoltaic system built on County property. Officials also even turned on a 359 kilowatt SDG&E-owned solar system. That’s located at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa.

In conclusion, the County also owns 10 other photovoltaic systems. All therefore providing clean energy to many different types of facilities. That’s such as the North County Regional Center, the Fallbrook Community Center and the Ramona Library.

Source: San Diego County – County News Center

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