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Feb 192009

Photo: PRNewsFoto/SunPower Corporation
SunPower trackers installed at the Lake County Sanitation District wastewater treatment plant in Lakeport, Calif. follow the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 30 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems.

From Green Right Now reports

SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, GE, California’s Lake County and the Lake County Sanitation District (LACOSAN) announced the completion of a 2.2-megawatt solar-electric power system on three sites in northern California.

The companies said that this new system, combined with an existing 1-megawatt solar power installation, makes Lake County the largest solar power installation on county facilities in California. The combined 3.2-megawatt system produces the equivalent of 94 percent of the facilities’ electricity requirements.

“We expect these solar power installations to save Lake County taxpayers and ratepayers between $1.6 million and $5 million over the next 20 years, depending on utility rate increases,” Mark Dellinger, special districts administrator for LACOSAN, said in a statement.

The solar installations were added to the county jail and two wastewater treatment plants as part of Lake County’s plan to build a sustainable community infrastructure. The wastewater that LACOSAN treats, recycles and transports at the two treatment plants is used to recharge another alternative energy source — geothermal — that generates power for homes and businesses. The County’s program includes The Geysers — which is the world’s largest complex of geothermal energy — and other alternative sources of energy.

“These solar facilities represent a critical part of Lake County’s overall energy program,” Denise Rushing, chair of the Lake County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “The County truly appreciates the innovation demonstrated by SunPower and GE, and for their partnership with us to make this happen.”

GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE, in partnership with SunPower, financed and owns the system as well as the associated renewable energy credits and environmental benefits. Using conversion formulas provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the 2.2-megawatt SunPower system will avoid more than 131 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years, equivalent to removing close to 11,000 cars from the road.

Under a SunPower Access(TM) power purchase agreement (PPA), the partnership is selling electricity to the County and LACOSAN at rates that are competitively priced against utility rates, providing the County and LACOSAN with a long-term hedge against rising peak power prices.

At the County and LACOSAN facilities, SunPower designed and installed a system that utilizes SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels on the market today, with the SunPower Tracker(R) system. The Tracker follows the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 30 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.