DANVILLE -- Town officials are hoping for big savings from four solar power arrays that will be going up around town this fall.
On Tuesday, the town council approved a $1.2 million energy prepayment to San Mateo-based SolarCity, which now has the go ahead to build the arrays on town-owned properties.
Town Manager Joe Calabrigo told the council the solar arrays are expected to save the town $4.4 million in energy costs over their 25-year lifetime. In addition to the savings, the arrays will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
Four carport-type photovoltaic solar arrays similar to those already being used at Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley and Dougherty Valley high schools will be built in parking lots at Diablo Vista and Sycamore Valley parks, the town offices at 510 La Gonda Way and the town's municipal services center at 1000 Sherburne Hills Road.
The $1.2 million prepayment was one of four options town officials were reviewing to finance the solar photovoltaic systems. The town council opted not to purchase the systems outright, but instead chose a prepayment option that is expected to bring higher savings down the road.
Under the prepayment option, the town makes the $1.2 million prepayment for electricity to SolarCity, which then builds the arrays, operates them and maintains them for the next 25 years.
The money for the prepayment came from the town's capital improvement budget. According to a town report,
City Engineer Steve Lake said the city will purchase some electricity, but the arrays will offset electricity purchased from PG&E by about 66 percent at Diablo Vista Park, 73 percent at Sycamore Valley Park, 78 percent at the town offices and by as much as 89 percent at the services center.
The offsets mean that 192 metric tons less per year of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere by the town's energy usage, Lake said.
"We're trying to set an example by being as green as possible, and provide cost savings to the town and the taxpayers," he said.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.