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Library solar project underway

Posted: May 18th, 2018 | Features, Top Stories | No Comments

Jeff Clemetson | Editor

The Mission Valley Library is going green. A project to install solar panels over the parking lot began this month and is expected to be completed sometime in July of this year.

The new solar system is expected to generate 168.8 kW of energy annually, and will save the city approximately $580,000 over the 20-year life span of the system, said San Diego Senior Public Affairs Officer Paul Brencick.

The start of construction on the Mission Valley Library solar project (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

Also, the city is not paying any upfront costs for the solar system because the project is covered under a power purchase agreement between the city and the solar developer, Onyx Solar, who will sell to the city the power generated from the solar panels for 20 years at a rate that is lower than what the city currently pays SDG&E.

The solar project at the Mission Valley Library is just one of many solar installations on City of San Diego buildings. Solar projects are a key part of the city’s effort to curb carbon emissions as part of its climate action plan.

Although the construction has limited access to the library parking lot, branch manager Karen Reilly said library operations have not been disrupted and that many patrons are still finding parking because staff and construction crew members are parking on the street.

The solar panels have to be installed on canopies in the parking lot because the library’s roof is arched.

An artist rendering of the finished solar canopies (Courtesy City of San Diego)

“The upside to this is that when they are done, they will shade our patrons’ cars,” Reilly said. “The downside is that many of our trees had to be cut down to make way for the canopies.”

Once the canopies are up, toyon berry shrubs will be planted to replace the trees.

“These are really pretty, native plants that are low-water use and shouldn’t compete with the canopies, so I think the parking lot will still look nice,” Reilly said.

Despite losing trees and parking spaces for a few months, Reilly is excited about the project because it will reduce the carbon footprint of the library.

“Due to some factors like our architectural light fixtures and the HVAC system, the Mission Valley Library has historically been one of the heaviest energy users in the branch system,” she said. “We have tried to improve this by doing things like retrofitting our light fixtures with high efficiency bulbs, but knowing that the power itself is green will make us feel much happier about using it.”

— Reach Jeff Clemetson at jeff@sdcnn.com.

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