WALNUT CREEK -- Local leaders will combine their own wish list for solar panels and other renewable-energy projects on city-owned property with the dreams of other Bay Area agencies, to improve their buying power and better qualify for energy-related grants.
The City Council recently made formal Walnut Creek's role in the Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Project, whose other member agencies are scattered throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Top priority for Walnut Creek is installing solar panels and shade structures on top of city parking structures, said City Engineer Steve Waymire. The city has also identified at least six other potential projects from its citywide 2010 solar feasibility study.
Next, Alameda County -- which is leading the collaborative effort -- will send a consultant to the 20 participating local agencies to review everyone's proposals, with an eye toward "bundling" projects with similar contractor or technology requirements.
"We are hoping that by the first of January we can have a selection in place," Waymire said.
The success of the Silicon Valley Collaborative Renewable Energy Procurement Project has served as the model for this "regional" collaboration.
Because grant money will be sought to fund the projects in R-REP, city engineers have estimated there will be little upfront cost to the city. A $677,700 grant from the 2009 economic stimulus funds paid for the
The $254,780 installation of 165 panels on the City Hall roof was completed in November 2011. The panels offset an estimated 5 percent of the building's energy use and save an estimated $10,000 a year.
Other projects to be considered for inclusion in the R-REP program include solar panels on the Tice Valley Gymnasium and the Boundary Oak Golf Course. Estimates show solar panels at Boundary Oak could save $1.64 million over 25 years and $861,000 at the gym.
Waymire emphasized that the city has been taking on more energy efficiency projects than energy creation projects.
"We recently upgraded a lot of the lighting downtown to LEDs," said Waymire. who described that work as part of the city's routine maintenance."
He also said they have been replacing old heating and cooling systems in city buildings with more efficient ones and installing energy efficient roofs that deflect more of the sun's heat.
Each R-REP project chosen for development will have to be approved by a City Council vote.
The Walnut Creek Library, built in 2010, has an Energy Star-rated roof and efficient heating and cooling, among other efficiency features. The building was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design "gold" status.