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Solar Power Generates Big Savings in Salinas, California

October 15, 2012 - 4:40pm

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A portion of the new 141 kilowatt solar photovoltaic energy system at Monterey County’s Laurel Yard Complex in Salinas, California. The system is expected to save the county thousands of dollars a year in energy costs. <a href="http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/monterey-california-solar-array-panorama.jpg">Click here</a> to see a panoramic view of the entire solar array. | Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Westside Electric, DBA Sandbar.

A portion of the new 141 kilowatt solar photovoltaic energy system at Monterey County’s Laurel Yard Complex in Salinas, California. The system is expected to save the county thousands of dollars a year in energy costs. Click here to see a panoramic view of the entire solar array. | Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Westside Electric, DBA Sandbar.

From a distance, the new structure at Monterey County’s Laurel Yard Complex in Salinas, California, looks like an ordinary parking lot canopy. But a closer inspection shows it is actually an impressive array of solar panels that is expected to save the county thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.

Monterey County’s new 141 kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system has the capacity to convert sunlight into 192,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year -- an energy output equivalent of more than 15,000 gallons of gas or 1,150 60-watt light bulbs. The system generates enough energy to power all eight public works facilities and offices at the county-owned Laurel Yard Complex for six months out of the year, effectively cutting annual power bills in half. 

The new solar array is expected to save the county an estimated $222,000 in energy costs during its first five years of operation and at least $18,800 per year starting during year six of operation. Additionally, the system is expected to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by at least 270,000 pounds each year.

The county completed the project with assistance from the Energy Department’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Last month, Monterey County workers celebrated the completion of the project with a ribbon-cutting event at the Laurel Yard Complex, showcasing the county’s first county-managed PV system. Monterey County has future plans to install PV systems at additional county-owned sites.

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