Kerman dedicates solar array at wastewater plant

The Business Journal

October 22, 2013

Kerman officials today unveiled a 500-kilowatt solar system that will supply 70 percent of the energy needs at its newly expanded wastewater treatment plant.

Built by Borrego Solar Systems of San Diego over the last six months, the system will generate 940,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually using 1,680 solar panels provided by Ying Li.

For Kerman, buying the power through a 20-year power purchase agreement from ConEdison Solutions of Valhalla, N.Y. means a savings of more than $95,000 a year off of around $200,000 the city was paying without the array.

For Kerman taxpayers, that's an approximately 40-percent net reduction in the treatment plant's electricity costs.

Kerman Mayor Gary Yep and City Manager Luis Patlan joined officials with ConEdison and Borrego Solar today to flip the switch on the single-axis tracker system.

"By going solar, Kerman is offsetting the increase in electricity, reducing our net-energy costs, and protecting our budget against future utility-rate increases while creating local jobs," Yep said. "This public-private partnership will reduce Kerman's electricity costs for 20 years, and required zero upfront capital expense."

The option to go solar didn't present itself until about a year ago when Kerman officials saw how much they were paying for electricity after a $6.7-million expansion to its wastewater treatment facility at Jensen and Del Norte avenues just south of the city.

Finished in August of last year, the expansion added two new 75-foot clarifiers, a sludge digester, additional ponding basins, a biolac oxidation system and headwork screening, pumping systems and a screw press to squeeze out water.

The project, Kerman's largest capital improvement project to date, took the plant's capacity from 1.1 million gallons per day to 2 million gallons per day and reduced the amount of nitrates seeping into the soil. However, it also pushed electricity requirements from $3,500 a month to more than $10,000.

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