The California Department of General Services announced this week the completion of two solar power projects — at Pleasant Valley State Prison and an adjoining state hospital in Coalinga. Together, the installations total 3.22 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity.
There are now 12 state prison sites in California that have solar power installations, according to DGS and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Combined capacity of the dozen sites is about 28 MW.
Other sites include North Kern State Prison in Delano, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blyth, Los Angeles State Prison in Lancaster, a.d California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi.
The solar panels at the dozen CDCR sites are projected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 61,000 metric tons in 2014 and will save approximately $78 million in energy costs over the next two decades, officials said. The solar array at the state hospital in Coalinga will account for an estimated 24 percent of the facility’s total electricity.
In 2006 SunEdison installed the prison system’s first ground-mounted solar system, at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. Ironwood State Prison went online in 2008. Ten more have been added over the years. The arrays were built at no upfront cost to the state; the vendor sells power generated from the panels back to the government at competitive prices through a DGS purchasing agreement.
A 2012 executive order from Gov. Jerry Brown directs state agencies and departments to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and energy purchases by 20% by 2018.
CDCR’s Going Green initiative is tracking the growing number solar energy projects at state prisons. Among the 12 sites, there are more than 90,000 solar panels.'
This story was originally published by TechWire.