Tranquillity Irrigation District to Meet 50 Percent of Energy Demand with 1.8 Megawatt Solar Array
Borrego Solar Systems to build the array, which will save Tranquillity a net $10 million over 25 years
Tranquillity Irrigation District, which serves the water needs of the 10,750-acre agricultural community of Tranquillity in Fresno County, today announces plans to build a 1.8 megawatt ground-mounted solar tracker system that will provide enough electricity to meet 50 percent of the agency’s energy demand. Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a leading designer, developer, installer and O&M provider of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems, will design, construct and maintain the solar array. The District’s long-time engineer, Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group, worked on behalf of the District to help develop the solar project with Borrego Solar.
Tranquillity will save a net $10 million over the 25-year term of its power purchase agreement (PPA)—a financing mechanism that enables customers to invest in solar without any upfront costs. The District will buy the energy produced from the system owner at a set price over the PPA agreement term.
“Solar was clearly the best use for our site, especially considering the savings we’ll realize for our residents through the PPA – it’s truly a win-win,” said Danny Wade, general manager of Tranquillity Irrigation District. “The reality is that we will continue to be plagued with limited water resources for the foreseeable future, and solar is a sustainable solution to help us deal with the resulting energy demand and cost increase due to the drought. Any water district in the state should be investigating whether solar works for them.”
Given the ongoing drought in California, the District has needed to use its wells more than it had pre-drought. As a result, more electricity is needed to power the pumps bringing water toward the surface. The District is trying to provide water to its landowners and the community of Tranquillity as efficiently and economically as it can. For example, the District recently received a $5 million grant from the California State Department of Health to build a necessary water treatment facility. The solar tracker system will be placed adjacent to the treatment facility on land already owned by the District.
Tranquillity is taking advantage of a California utility program available to municipalities called RES-BCT, or Renewable Energy Self-Generation Bill Credit Transfer program, with its array. RES-BCT allows customers to install a solar array at one site and apply the credit for the power the system produces to other meters owned by the municipality. In other words, the solar energy system does not have to be located on the same site as where the power generated will be used.
“Tranquillity Irrigation District’s path to solar illustrates the ease by which California municipalities can now invest in solar,” said Audrey Copeland, project developer at Borrego Solar. “There are various mechanisms available to municipalities and public agencies that eliminate the need to have land available on-site, cash on hand, or staff to devote to the project. With the help of the RES-BCT program, PPA financing and a special clause in the 42-17 code that allows for a non-RFP procurement process, Tranquillity was able to get a solar array contract and financing agreement inked in approximately 30 days.”
In its first year of operation, the array will generate an estimated 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity— enough to power approximately 450 homes. The installation will offset more than 760 metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually, which is the equivalent of taking 162 cars off the road for a year or the amount of carbon sequestered by 630 acres of mature U.S. forests each year.
About Tranquillity Irrigation District
Tranquillity Irrigation District was formed January 22, 1918, as a public agency designed to serve the local community with water supplies. It is the second oldest such agency in Fresno County. A Board of Directors elected from the community at-large governs the District. The District is approximately 10,750 acres in size and is located in the west central portion of Fresno County in the Great Central Valley of California. The District farmland produces a variety of commodities including: cotton (pima and acala), canning tomatoes, alfalfa for seed, sugar beets and almonds. Its principal community is the unincorporated town of Tranquillity.
About Borrego Solar
Established in 1980, Borrego Solar Systems Inc. is one of the leading designers, developers, installers and O&M providers of commercial and utility PV solar power systems in the United States with more than 210 megawatts of installations in operation and nearly 100 MW currently under construction. Borrego Solar is a market leader across the United States in the commercial PV solar space with the largest market share in Massachusetts and New York, according to Greentech Media Research. With more than three decades of experience, Borrego Solar’s PV systems are efficient, reliable and cost-effective. For more information, visit www.borregosolar.com.
About Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group
In 1968 Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group began a strong tradition of engineering and consulting excellence in Fresno, California. Now with office locations throughout California, Provost & Pritchard specializes in civil and agricultural engineering, environmental and land use planning, hydrogeology and geology, surveying, grant writing and administration, and construction management services in the areas of water resources, municipal infrastructure, agriculture, site development, and environmental compliance. For more information, visit www.ppeng.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.