Federal Correctional Institution Victorville ESPC Project Deploys RE Technologies

April 20, 2004

In 2001, the Bureau of Prisons chose the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Victorville, CA, for a pilot project to determine if the facility had sufficient potential for energy savings to warrant a detailed analysis, design, and implementation of an energy efficiency and facility upgrade project. Given that FCI Victorville was a brand new facility, its energy savings potential was unknown. A detailed analysis revealed significant energy savings potential through use of renewable wind and solar energy sources and re-engineering of existing facility energy equipment.

One year later, the design was complete for installation of a wind turbine, a photovoltaic (PV) covered parking array, and several cost-efficient upgrades to the HVAC system. The project is being built and financed under an energy saving performance contract (ESPC). NORESCO, a national energy services company, finished the preliminary design and will complete the installation on a turnkey basis. NORESCO will provide all of the investment capital, guarantee energy savings, and provide ongoing maintenance services to ensure successful long-term operation.

The wind turbine will be located on the south side of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) building and as close to the FCI facility as allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The 750-kilowatt wind turbine will be 180 feet to the center of the rotor blades and have a diameter of about 160 feet, for a total height of about 260 feet. When operating at full power, the wind turbine will generate enough electricity for several hundred homes, while eliminating all of the air pollution that would be generated in serving these homes with conventional electric generation. The wind turbine will produce up to 30 percent of the peak electric demand and nearly 10 percent of the annual electric consumption of the facility, providing a good degree of energy independence. With the maturity of the wind power industry and improvements made during the past decade, this turbine should remain operational for the next 30 years.

In making this project cost-effective while ensuring reliability, NORESCO along with Victorville's in-house staff will provide an optimal blend of maintenance services. NORESCO will train selected maintenance staff on basic operations and maintenance procedures of the wind turbine. Victorville operational support will be limited to "first responder" or "eyes-on-the-ground" type of support. This will eliminate the cost of an expert having to drive 5 hours for simple tasks such as resetting a breaker. In addition, this local operational support will increase the amount of time that the wind turbine is on-line generating electricity.

The time requirement to provide this operational support will be minimal and the results will be effective.

Recognizing the dual benefit of environmentally "free" solar energy and covered parking in the Mojave Desert, a PV carport array will provide shade for two to four rows of staff parking while producing about 50 kilowatts of electricity on sunny summer days.

Upgrades to the HVAC system include converting the air systems from conventional constant volume to variable airflow via the addition of variable speed drives and improved computer controls. These changes provided a very significant reduction in fan power, and they will provide flexibility in meeting heating and cooling loads. These improvements, along with the ability to monitor and display outside and total airflows, should help address comfort complaints while saving energy and money.

The Victorville project is targeted to receive more than $2 million in incentives from the local utility. This project is eligible for these funds under California programs that allocate some of the utility bill payments in order to encourage energy efficiency and renewable (green) technologies. The 750- kilowatt wind turbine will be the first utility-scale wind turbine to be installed under California's Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). It will also be the first combined wind and solar renewable project completed under this program, making FCI Victorville unique. Potential benefits to recruitment, community relations, and education are significant.

The wind turbine, solar photovoltaic carport array, and HVAC upgrades will be paid for entirely from incentives and energy cost savings. This places no additional financial burden on FCI Victorville and, in fact, will produce significant net cost savings once the project has been fully paid for through its savings. The benefits of this financing method, combined with state incentives for small alternative energy projects, is a unique and viable approach to the federal market that is currently overlooked by the wind and solar industries and some government agencies. This showcase project has the potential to significantly increase awareness and demand for this niche application of small wind and solar projects at both new and older, less efficient facilities.

For information on the Victorville ESPC Project, contact Noel Fenlon. For more information on project financing, please contact Tatiana Strajnic, FEMP, at 202-586-9230.