The City of Bakersfield, in partnership with ForeFront Power, finished Phase 1 of a planned Citywide Solar Electricity Generating Project. With an annual electrical output of 3.4 million kWh, Phase 1 alone is expected to save the City and taxpayers nearly $9 million in electricity costs over a 20-year period.
“City staff is always looking for innovative and forward-thinking opportunities that will keep Bakersfield ahead of the curve,” City Manager Christian Clegg said. “By investing in this project, we have made Bakersfield more energy efficient, setting ourselves up for a future of fiscal responsibility.”
Phase 1 of the project is a 2 MWdc solar energy portfolio located at five sites:
- the parking lot south of City Hall South,
- the Bakersfield Police Department Headquarters parking lot,
- the parking lot at The Park at River Walk (pictured above),
- the parking lot at the City Corporation Yard, and
- at Mesa Marin Sports Complex.
The City’s energy demands are high and demands grow each year. With rates increasing as well, City staff has explored energy efficiency projects in recent years to reduce its reliance on costly energy from PG&E.
Under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the City of Bakersfield, ForeFront Power developed, owns, and maintains the city’s solar energy portfolio. ForeFront Power charges the City a fixed, below-market rate for electricity, which is locked in for the 20-year duration of the agreement. ForeFront Power will continue to operate and maintain the system at no cost to the City.
The PPA enabled Bakersfield to develop its portfolio at no upfront cost, while achieving a fixed, below-market rate for electricity as well as budget certainty by avoiding future utility rate increases.
The transition to solar will also help improve the City’s air quality as the clean production of energy is equal to taking more than 500 gas-powered vehicles off the road each year.
This phase of the project also put locals to work with 80% of the labor used to construct the infrastructure coming from contractors based in Bakersfield and the County of Kern.
— Solar Builder magazine