AC Transit to save $5 million over 25 years with SunPower

AC Transit's move towards solar power was greatly enhanced with the partnership of SunPower Access™.”

– Rick Fernandez, General Manager, AC Transit

AC (Alameda - Contra Costa) Transit District in California serves more than 215,000 commuters every day, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the health of the environment. As a public organization, they must comply with strict requirements to ensure that the use of tax money is expended as efficiently as possible. In alignment with their environmental initiatives to explore alternatives and adopt the latest technologies, they had always been interested in going solar but were concerned about the economic viability, since the payback did not seem to justify the cost at the time. In 2005 however, they found a way to leverage the benefits of solar electricity without burdening the cost by taking advantage of the solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Easy and Affordable Solar Power

Through the SunPower® Power PPA service offering, a private investor pays for the solar electric system, its installation, and its maintenance costs, there by minimizing the costs to AC Transit. In exchange for hosting the solar installation on the roof of its buildings, AC Transit gets to buy the solar power at a fixed rate for 10 years, enabling them to sidestep rising electricity prices. This innovative solution transfers the benefits of clean and renewable solar energy to AC Transit and allows them to demonstrate environmental leadership to the community.

Carrying Superior Performance

Without having to pay for the solar electric systems or installation, AC Transit had SunPower install PowerGuard® Solar Roof Systems on seven of its buildings across two site locations. These systems consist of over 2700 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and now produce 621 kW of electricity collectively -- enough to power 600 homes during the daytime. SunPower highest efficiency solar panels deliver the best output and performance over any competing solar panels on the market today.

Benefits for the Long Haul

Over the next 25 years, the solar installations will help AC Transit reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5,238 lbs., which is equivalent to planting 1,500 acres of trees, or removing 1,100 cars from the roads. “Oakland’s site alone generates 275,000 kilowatt hours per year, more than offsetting the 189,000 kWhr/yr needed to run the steam reforming hydrogen production facility for HyRoad zero-emission buses,” says Jaimie Levin, Director of Alternative Fuels Policy and Marketing for AC Transit.

Project Overview

Location 1:    Oakland, California
Completed:    April 2007
Installation Type:    Commercial Roof
System Size:    177 kW
Energy Production:    275,500 kWh/year
Number of Panels:    1,078
Products and Services:    SunPower® PowerGuard®
                                            SunPower Access™

Location 2:    Hayward, California
Completed:    April 2007
Installation Type:    Commercial Roof
System Size:    315 kW
Energy Production:    499,500 kWh/year
Number of Panels:    1,650
Products and Services:    SunPower® PowerGuard®
                                            SunPower Access™

Benefits
  • Lifetime energy savings of $5,000,000 over 25 years
  • Provides 100% of the energy required to run their hydrogen fuel facility
  • No initial installation or ongoing maintenance costs to AC Transit.
  • Project completely funded by partners: private investment, $1.8 million grant from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and 30% federal tax credit