In their ongoing efforts to provide "reliable quality water at a reasonable cost to the Santa Clarita Valley," Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) and its retail division, the Santa Clarita Water Division (SCWD), are always looking for innovative and sustainable ways to reduce the cost of transporting, treating and storing water. To that end, CLWA and SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) today announced the completion of a 3.5-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar plant. CLWA estimates that, in combination with the agency's existing 1-MW SunPower solar plant, it will reduce electricity costs by approximately $20 million over the next 25 years.
"Santa Clarita Valley residents use about 250 gallons of water per capita per day, which equates to moving about a ton, or 2,000 pounds, of water for each resident every day, 365 days a year. It requires a tremendous amount of energy to serve that demand, at significant cost," said CLWA General Manager Dan Masnada. "SunPower's high performance solar technology is built to last, ultimately reducing the cost of energy over the long term. The savings we generate can be used to improve services to our rate payers, while the avoided fossil-fuel related emissions benefit the community with cleaner air."
The new solar power plant, when combined with the output of an existing 1-MW SunPower solar plant completed in December 2011, is expected to offset about a third of the energy used at all facilities owned by CLWA and SCWD. Both solar plants are located at the agency's Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant.
SunPower® Oasis® Power Plant technology is installed at the site. The technology positions SunPower's high efficiency solar panels to follow the sun's movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements. The Oasis Power Plant also uses robotic panel cleaning technology that reduces water use by up to 90 percent in comparison to traditional panel cleaning methods.
"By installing reliable, high performing SunPower solar technology on underutilized land and facilities, water agencies across California are significantly reducing operational costs for the benefit of the communities they serve," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. "We're very pleased to partner again with CLWA, and applaud the agency's forward-thinking approach to serving their ratepayers and taxpayers."
The new power plant was financed through a power purchase agreement (PPA) facilitated by SunPower. CLWA anticipates the PPA will provide an effective long-term hedge against future utility rate increases. In addition, CLWA is taking advantage of a program administered by Southern California Edison to receive financial credit for the power generated by the solar power system against the energy costs at all its facilities in the service area, including various well locations and pumping plants.