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Surf City goes solar

Huntington Beach launches an energy project expected to save more than $1.5 million over next 20 years.

by brandon russellPublished: August 01, 2011

As a youngster, I often found myself challenging the sun to staring contests. Don’t ask me why. I suppose it was this morbid competitive side I once had. I believed that if I won, I could somehow harness the sun’s power and shoot deadly light rays from my fingertips. You can call it my “Pinky and the Brain” try-and-take-over-the-world period.
   
I have yet to win.
   
Luckily, organizations such as the city of Huntington Beach have plans to harness the sun’s power for far more productive and safer uses.
   
In partnership with SunEdison, a Beltsville, Md.-based solar energy services firm (a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc.), Huntington Beach will undergo a transformation that will see its Central Library, Civic Center and City Yard fitted with carport canopy photovoltaic power plants that are expected to save the city more than $1.5 million over the next 20 years.
   
“The solar project is just one of the many resource-saving projects that are protecting and enhancing the quality of life in HB,” says Aaron Klemm, energy project manager for the city. “These programs are expressions of community values.”
   
The undertaking, which is expected to finish next month, is proceeding at no cost to the city through power purchase agreements. All finances, construction and maintenance is being handled by SunEdison, with earlier initial funding and consultation provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.
   
Once completed, city officials anticipate that the three locations will generate more than 63 million kilowatt hours of clean solar energy over the next two decades; that’s the equivalent of removing more than 455 vehicles from the road.
   
“Huntington Beach led the last energy revolution in Southern California with oil production over the last century,” says Klemm. “The city is committed to leading the next clean energy revolution in Southern California.”  sunedison.com