Solar Parking Canopies Promise Renewable Energy

Come summer, solar canopies will be catching rays in three Oakmont parking lots, harnessing the sun’s energy to supply low-cost power to the Berger and central activities area, and the East Rec and West Rec centers.

Kevin Hubred, OVA general manager, signed a letter of intent with TRITEC Americas for a 25-year power purchasing agreement (PPA) that is expected to be finalized by the end of January and save OVA members about $265,000 over the run of the contract.

Here’s how it works: under the agreement, TRITEC will pay SolarCraft, an installation company, to build the parking canopies at no cost to OVA. TRITEC, which will own, manage and maintain the system, sells the power generated back to OVA at a locked-in lower cost than the association’s current utility bill.

Ken Smith, chair of the Oakmont Energy Resiliency Project, said rapid progress is being made on getting solar battery and/or generator backups for the solar canopy system. “We want to have backup for 100% of the Berger and possibly other central buildings for up to three days during a public safety power shutoff,” he said.  “Ultimately, our goal is no fossil fuels.”

PG&E is expected to select some 40 Resiliency Centers by mid-January and Oakmont is on the list of hopefuls. If qualified, Oakmont would receive a fossil fuel powered generator as part of the initiative.

June is the completion goal for construction of the three solar canopy sites. The TRITEC proposal says the canopies and clean energy generation will save 267 barrels of oil and eliminate 367,000 pounds of greenhouse gases over 25 years. The project is one element of a multi-pronged initiative for Oakmont, which long-term also includes a larger microgrid to supply clean energy to homes with solar.