Palo Alto brings its first feed-in tariff solar project online

The City of Palo Alto has a goal of acquiring 4% of its total energy consumption from locally produced solar by 2020. To encourage more solar power generation, the city created Palo Alto CLEAN (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now), a feed-in tariff (FIT) program. Komuna Energy, a Palo Alto-based company, is the first photovoltaic (PV) installer to join the program, adding solar arrays on five structures and incorporating city-owned EV charging stations.

With CLEAN, approved solar installers can develop PV systems to sell energy back to Palo Alto’s city-owned utility for a fixed rate over a specific period of time, allowing residents to purchase locally generated clean energy. In late 2015, Komuna Energy partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto to install a 129-kilowatt (kW) solar canopy over their parking lot. The next four projects have been partnerships with the city to install solar arrays on four downtown parking garages, with all of the electricity being sold back. The Bryant Street Garage’s 40-kW canopy went online in June 2017 followed by a 419-kW array atop the Webster Street garage. With these projects, CLEAN is generating 1.3 megawatts.

Palo Alto has one of the highest rates of electric vehicle (EV) ownership in the country so the city incorporated electric vehicle charging into all of the parking garages. EV users will be charged 23 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), or about $2-4 per charge as a way to pay for the charging station and encourage parking space turnover.

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