With almost 300 days of Southern California sunshine a year, Riverside County was eager to take advantage of their prime real estate for producing renewable solar power. County leaders were committed to building a more livable, equitable, and economically vibrant Riverside community through the incorporation of sustainability features and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across County facilities. In partnership with ENGIE Services U.S. (ENGIE), the County is implementing a wide-ranging solar power program aiming to spur progress on the General Plan and Climate Action Plan goals to revert to 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020. The program will provide lasting economic impact across the County all without any public capital investment.
In 2014, Riverside County partnered with ENGIE for the largest countywide conversion to solar ever launched in the U.S. The County installed 12 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) across 13 sites, starting with the energization of the Perris Sheriff Station. The comprehensive sustainability program includes renewable power generation and distribution across the County, providing 40 percent of clean energy to more than 26 County facilities within the Southern California Edison service territory. The program has far-reaching impacts in cities across the County, including San Jacinto, Jurupa Valley, Palm Desert, Temecula, Beaumont, and Perris. Riverside County took advantage of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and two of Southern California Edison’s special tariffs to help fund this ambitious project. Seven megawatts of power are being generated at four sites to reduce energy costs through the Bill Credit Transfer Program. The program uses excess energy generated at solar project sites to reduce expenses at those County-owned facilities that pay the highest utility rates. Another five megawatts will be generated at eight additional sites, distributed through the Utility Net Metering Program. Requiring no public capital investment, the County’s far-reaching solar footprint utilizes energy savings to pay for all site installations.
About Net Energy Metering in Riverside County
Riverside County has utilized Net Energy Metering to use any excess energy generated at the solar sites to offset expenses elsewhere. Under Net Energy Metering (NEM), the County’s electric meters keep track of how much electricity is consumed, and how much excess electricity is generated by the system and sent back into the electric utility grid. The program uses excess energy generated at solar project sites to reduce expenses at those County-owned facilities that pay the highest utility rates.
Accolades for Ownership
ENGIE is committed to helping the County get recognition for their regional leadership in solar generation by promoting awareness of the program. In September 2015, the County hosted a “Flip the Switch” groundbreaking celebration with the ENGIE team where local stakeholders and County leaders recognized the County Board of Supervisors for establishing the energy sustainability program and long-term ownership of the solar project.
3 Dimensions of Impact
ENGIE is committed to building three dimensions of impact in every customer’s future:
- Supporting People
- The shaded parking lot canopies across County facilities are a major win for both County constituents and employees. Protecting cars from the sweltering sun in one of the hottest climates in the country is a major benefit of the solar production, especially pronounced at the Perris Sheriff Station, where temperatures inside patrol vehicles can reach up to 150 degrees. Shaded canopies keep employees comfortable, while helping prolong the useful life of vehicles by reducing heat related wear and tear.
- The solar program is part of a broader effort to continue building a more sustainable Riverside County, focused on ongoing fiscal stewardship and community engagement across the region. By achieving community-focused benefits such as the creation of 287 jobs during construction and 1,157 long-term jobs associated with the program outputs, this program has made a significant impact on the local economy.
- Saving Money
- Residents will benefit from the County’s ownership of the solar, with the program expected to generate approximately $200 million in taxpayer savings over the next 30 years through reduced energy costs. The program provides lasting environmental impact across the County and required no public capital investment.
- Protecting the Environment
- A total of 12 megawatts of solar PV being installed across the County is expected to generate 18.6 million kWh annually, the equivalent to powering nearly 15,000 homes for a year.
- The solar installations are expected to offset 385,000 metric tons of CO2 over 30 years, the equivalent to removing more than 81,000 cars from the road.
- County facilities utility usage will move to 40%+ clean energy.
- This successful partnership with ENGIE helps Riverside County take great strides towards its Climate Action Plan goals to revert to 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020.