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San Francisco prepares to turn on largest municipal solar grid in America

Turnon Not For Months, City Celebrates Huge Solar Project Nonetheless: News: SFAppeal


Crews are now busy laying photovoltaic panels atop one of the city's largest water reservoirs, the seismically-safe northern side of the Sunset Reservoir, which takes up eight whole city blocks between 24th and 28th avenues and Quintara and Ortega streets.

When completed, the public-private enterprise will have built the biggest municipal solar farm in California and possibly the United States, according to city officials, who on Tuesday toured the installation, still under construction.

The panels will generate five megawatts of energy for the city, which uses its own power -- not PG&E's -- to run Muni vehicles and light lights in select municipal buildings like City Hall. That comes at a cost of about $2 million a year over 25 years, according to the power-purchase agreement which allowed the project to go forward. San Francisco will be able to buy the project outright from Recurrent for roughly $30 million in seven years, should city coffers be flush by then.

Some 8,000 panels have already been installed on the project, which was slated to be completed by now, according to a May 2009 proclamation from the company. Construction did not begin until March 2010, and should be completed by this September. They expect to flip the "on" switch in December, according to Public Utilities spokesman Tyrone Jue.