New Caltrans Solar Projects to Save State Millions

Wed July 01, 2009 - West Edition

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced June 11 that it plans to install $20 million in new solar energy systems at 70 of its facilities throughout the state, providing California taxpayers an estimated $52.5 million in avoided energy costs over 25 years.

Instead of burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, the panels will harvest energy from the sun, producing more than three million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and eliminating 2.8 million pounds of greenhouse gases annually — at no cost to the California taxpayer.

In 2006, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32, California’s landmark bill that established a first-in-the-world program to reduce greenhouse gases.

“We’re putting people back to work on green projects that will help our economy, promote energy conservation, improve air quality and reduce global warming — all at no cost to the California taxpayer,” said Schwarzenegger.

Caltrans is part of California’s Climate Action Program and was one of the first state agencies to be certified as a “Climate Action Leader” by the California Climate Action Registry.

“This project is a great example of how to use innovative financing to green state government, make it more cost-effective for taxpayers, and bolster businesses and jobs in a vital sector of our economy,” said State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. “In just a short time, taxpayers will make a return on their investment and over the long-term they’ll save themselves millions of dollars in energy costs.”

The Caltrans solar projects are being financed through the sale of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB), which will be paid back in annual payments over 15 years.

Congress approved the CREB program in 2005 to encourage energy conservation, develop energy infrastructure, and increase the use of alternative energy sources.