Washington D.C. has entered into one of the largest municipal onsite solar projects in the United States. The D.C. Department of General Services’ (DGS) Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Nextility, Inc., will boost the city’s total solar generation capacity by roughly 70% through the deployment of 11.4MW of solar photovoltaic systems on the roofs and parking lots of 34 District-owned facilities. The agreement, signed last week will take effect on immediately.
The PPA is expected to save District taxpayers more than $25 million over the PPA’s 20-year term. Onsite generation avoids costly distribution and transmission charges on each megawatt hour (MWH) produced, in addition to avoided capacity charges for peak demand reduction. DGS also expects additional peak-season cost savings for electricity purchases from off-site energy sources in the summer months, when both demand and solar output is often greatest.
“The immense scale of this solar acquisition reduces District energy costs, serves as a business model for other city governments to replicate and unequivocally prioritizes investment in the clean energy economy,” said Mark Chambers, director of sustainability and energy at DGS. “The solar photovoltaic systems are scheduled to be placed in service toward the conclusion of 2016, at which point the agency will begin purchasing and receiving power. DGS will pay a contractually-established unit rate per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by the systems for 20 years.”
The solar photovoltaic systems will produce roughly 13,800MWHs of electricity each year, serving 3.5% of the DGS portfolio’s total annual electricity needs and reducing peak summer demand by 15%. In buildings that receive solar photovoltaic systems, approximately 20% of their electricity consumption will be met by the new onsite solar generation.
In July, DGS signed the largest 20-year wind PPA of its kind ever entered into by an American city. The PPA is already serving approximately 35% of the government’s total electricity needs from a regional wind farm. The DGS Wind Power Purchase Agreement has been chosen as one of 33 finalists from 216 applications worldwide competing to receive a C40 Cities Award during the United National Conference on Climate Change this December in Paris, France. Concurrently, last month DGS was honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a Green Power Leadership Award, recognizing the District’s commitment to 100 percent green energy purchasing.
According to a Washington Post article, this latest energy announcement comes two months after Bowser decided to reverse course and back the controversial Pepco-Exelon merger, which environmentalists have largely opposed. In November, environmentalists and good government groups called for an ethics investigation into why Bowser changed her mind, alleging that it may be connected to an agreement between Bowser’s administration and Pepco for $25 million to offset city costs to build a new stadium for the city’s Major League Soccer team, D.C. United.