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Santa Monica Poised to Reach Solar Benchmark for City Buildings

Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

July 22, 2019 -- Santa Monica is expected to take a $2.6 million step Tuesday to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by installing solar panels on three City owned buildings.

Under two contracts totaling $2,621,467 the City Council is expected to approve, solar Photovoltaic panels will be installed on two buildings at the Santa Monica Airport and the City Services Building (CSB) currently under construction behind City Hall.

The contracts are part of the City's Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project to help meet its goal of making Santa Monica a carbon neutral city by 2050, which means all activities within the city "will result in a net decrease in atmospheric greenhouse gases emitted annually," staff wrote in its report to the Council.

The contracts would meet the City's goal under the Climate Action Plan adopted by the Council in May of installing 1 megawatt (MW) of on-site solar energy on City facilities by 2020 ("Santa Monica Adopts $800 Million Plan to Fight Climate Change," May 29, 2019).

There are currently seven City owned facilities with a total combined capacity of 442 kW, staff said. The three facilities would add a total of 559 kilowatts (kW) of capacity, a 127 percent increase that would bring the total to 1.001 MW.

Of the total cost, $858,113 will be paid to Baker Electric Corporation for panels at two buildings located at the north end of the runway that recently underwent "reroofing" and are occupied by commercial tenants, staff said.

The City currently pays 80 percent of the tenants' electric bills, staff said. Installing panels at the two sites would save the City an estimated $53,200 a year.

Under a separate contract, the City would pay Blue Sky Energy Corporation $1,763,354 for a solar PV system in the City Services Building that will house 240 City employees when it opens early next year.

"The CSB is designed to achieve ILFI’s Living Building Certification, which among other things requires the building to generate all of its energy onsite using renewable sources," staff wrote in its report.

"The solar PV system will be a critical component in achieving this goal."

It is less costly to purchase the system outright than enter into a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a financier for the solar system’s energy over 25 years, staff said.

Located behind the 1938 City Hall, the three-story, 50,200-square-foot annex will house about 240 employees currently scattered in leased spaces into one location and features an emergency operations center.

The facility -- which is being paid with a $77 million bond -- will be the most self-sustaining public facility in California ("City of Santa Monica Prepares to Bond Nearly $77 million for Greenest Building in California History," August 4, 2017).

Work on the building -- which is approximately the size of the current City Hall -- began in December 2017 ("Santa Monica Begins Work on New City Hall Annex," December 19, 2017).

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