The Bay Area bus agency AC Transit showed off a brand new 621-kilowatt solar power system at its Oakland and Hayward facilities yesterday. Nice. The solar photovoltaic system is expected to generate roughly 767,000 kilowatt hours of power each year and save the company $5 million in utility costs over the 30 year life of the system.
The deal is the latest move by an organization to save money through solar, but without the company providing a large upfront capital investment. That’s because the solar system is actually financed and owned by MMA Renewable Ventures, which provides funding for energy projects and is being built and installed by San Jose, Calif-based SunPower.
AC Transit will pay MMA Renewable Ventures for the solar electricity generated over a multi-year power purchase agreement (PPA). After several years AC Transit can either renew the agreement, or purchase the system from MMA.
This deal structure is increasingly common in the solar world where the upfront cost of building and owning a solar system has been a barrier to companies adopting one. In the release MMA CEO Matt Cheney called the deal proof that:
“solar power is an affordable option for public agencies concerned with reducing carbon emissions.” — MMA CEO Matt Cheney
A few weeks ago Arno Harris, the CEO of another company specializing in solar PPA’s, Recurrent Energy, told us that:
“this is the year of the emergence of the solar purchase power agreement. After 50 years of innovation, solar has a competitive offer. — Arno Harris, CEO Recurrent Energy”
There’s significant money to be made with PPA’s and PG&E is actually providing a $1.9 million solar rebate, under California’s Self Generation Incentive Program. Through that program PG&E will also provide $950 million in incentives over the next 10 years to help customers build solar systems.