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DOE and Santa Barbara Raise the Solar Roof

One of the most heartening indicators of the solar sector’s overall health is the increasing number of near-daily press releases we get about new rooftop solar installations. This week there were two major installations, one in the nation’s capitol, the other in sunny Santa Barbara. And while individual rooftop installations rarely top 1 megawatt of generating capacity, distributing power generation across many roofs helps stabilize the grid and reduces the need for more transmission investment.

In the Beltway, the Department of Energy has finally come around to practicing what it preaches by installing a 205-kilowatt SunPower solar-electric system atop the roof of the Forrestal Building in Washington, D.C. The system is expected to provide 8 percent of the DOE-owned building’s electricity needs at peak hours. It’s a small step, smaller than many residential solar installations, but it provides an appreciated high-profile nod from the federal government that these sorts of installations are viable. Best of all, we’re confident the next administration won’t take them down the way Ronald Regan ripped Jimmy Carter’s solar panels off the White House.

Across the country, the City of Santa Barbara held a groundbreaking (roofbreaking?) ceremony today for its new solar array to be installed downtown, sketched above. The city tapped two solar startups to tackle the project. The 384 kW system will be designed and built by Pasadena-based EI Solutions while San Mateo, Calif.-based Tioga Energy will operate and manage the array under a 20-year power purchase agreement with city.

Graphic courtesy of EI Solutions.

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