Solar Project Helps YMCA of San Diego County Offer More Services

By:Ross Williams

August 17, 2018

Solar installed at six campuses of the YMCA of San Diego County will save money that will be used to expand services.

The YMCA has happily discovered what many other school, nonprofit and government solar customers know well: When you save money with solar, your organization can pass on those savings to the public by expanding services.

The YMCA of San Diego County, which recently had nearly 2.5 megawatts of SunPower® solar installed across six of its campuses, plans to use its estimated $80,000 in annual savings from the solar project to enhance community services such as summer camps and exercise programs, says Luis D'Carpio, Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability.

"Energy savings that are generated by solar projects for the branch[es], (are passed) on to their communities through the programming that's available in that area," he said.

Watch this video to see how the YMCA of San Diego County, the second-largest in the country, made a strategic commitment to solar energy in 2017 as part of its broader goal of strengthening the community. The nonprofit provides programs to about 430,000 people and hopes to double that number by 2025. The SunPower® Helix solar solutions installed on the roofs and parking lots of its campuses will help make that possible.

The nearly 4,000 solar panels installed on the six YMCA facilities by my company, HES Solar, are expected to generate enough energy to offset approximately 80 to 90 percent of the Y's electricity use, saving about $21 million over the next 20 years. The system was financed by a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which means the nonprofit did not have to invest any money up front. The PPA allows the Y to lock in low guaranteed electricity rates for 20 years, providing them savings of approximately $21 million over 20 years. This is why PPAs are great for nonprofits: They don't tie up badly needed capital and allow organizations to lock in low guaranteed electricity rates for years.

In the first year of operation, the combined systems are expected to generate more than 4 MWh of electricity — roughly equal to the electricity required to power 378 homes for one year. The Y can also be sure it will get its money's worth over the decades-long lifespan of its solar system, thanks to the 25-Year SunPower Complete Confidence Panel Warranty — the best in the solar industry. And because many of the panels are part of new parking structures, they'll provide much-needed shade from the Southern California sun.

But best of all, D'Carpio says: The new panels fit with the Y's mission to improve the health and well-being of everyone it serves.

"It's important for us to be able to address the needs of the community through our sustainability," he says, "but also to be good stewards of the environment."