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California's new "Green" public-private partnership

California has established a new public-private partnership to provide renewable solar energy to the state's universities. The partnership is between the energy firm SunEdison and California State University will serve as a test for future PPP opportunities:

Last week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state has partnered with SunEdison to provide affordable solar power at 15 California State University (CSU) campuses and the CSU executive office.

This innovative public-private partnership will protect the environment by providing a zero-emission eight megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic power system to the California state university campuses.

As state government's contract manager, the Department of General Services (DGS) negotiated the alternative financing method known as a power-purchase agreement for CSU. The agreement allows CSU to buy renewable power at or below current retail rates while avoiding the cost of installing the system. Under this agreement, SunEdison will finance, build and operate the solar panels for 20 years.

The State of California-SunEdison solar purchase agreement arranged by DGS should yield a total of approximately 20 MW of new renewable energy for the state.

"California is going green and we are doing it first and we are doing it fast," Gov. Schwarzenegger said last Tuesday. "With the partnership being announced today between California and SunEdison, we are seeing more tangible results and more follow through in reducing our state's carbon footprint. This partnership is a good deal for the state, the planet and our economy – all at no cost to taxpayers."

The eight MW of energy produced by the solar panels are expected to deliver approximately 12 million kilowatt hours of clean renewable energy in the first year of operation. This amount of solar generated electricity represents five percent of the entire CSU system's yearly energy consumption.

Over the life of the contract, the partnership will offset approximately 9,485 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of removing 48,937 cars from the road.

New SunEdison solar panels will be installed on rooftops, atop parking canopies and in ground-mounted arrays at the following locations: CA Maritime Academy, Vallejo; CSU Bakersfield; CSU Channel Islands; CSU Chico; CSU Fullerton; CSU Humboldt; CSU Los Angeles; CSU Monterey Bay; CSU Pomona (Cal Poly); CSU Sacramento; CSU San Bernardino; CSU San Bernardino (Palm Desert): CSU San Francisco; CSU San Marcos; CSU Stanislaus; and, the CSU Office of the Chancellor, Long Beach.

"California's continued economic, environmental and social prosperity depends on sustainable energy and technology," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "As the nation's largest university system, the CSU welcomes this opportunity to lead the way."

"California leaders have turned the vision of renewable energy for the state into results. SunEdison is proud to be part of this important public-private partnership and to help make solar a meaningful part of California's energy portfolio," noted David Buzby, chief executive officer of SunEdison.

In addition to the eight MW of solar power generation announced Tuesday, further development is under way by DGS and other state departments, including the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Department of Mental Health, to generate approximately seven MW of solar power at five state prison sites and three state mental hospitals. Since 2006, 4.2 MW of solar power have already been deployed at eight other state facilities through similar power purchase agreements.

DGS also recently launched an online database identifying where solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines and other green energy technologies are generating renewable power at state office buildings, prisons, hospitals and college campuses which can be found at www.RenewableEnergy.dgs.ca.gov.

California's push to fight global warming and increase renewable energy will also boost our economy. According to an economic study released yesterday by the University of California at Berkeley and Next 10, California's policies will create as many as 403,000 jobs in the next 12 years and household incomes will increase by $48 billion.

Read the article from Lake County News here.

Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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