U.S. Department of Energy

    California Postal Facility Installs Largest Federal Solar Array

    October 20, 2004

    Bird's-eye view of the Postal Service's solar energy system.

    The U.S. Postal Service's solar power installation generates electricity while providing shade.
    Credit: PowerLight Corporation

    The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced on October 13th that it has completed the installation of a 403-kilowatt solar electric system, as well as a number of energy efficiency upgrades, on its West Sacramento Processing & Distribution Center. PowerLight Corporation provided the solar array, consisting of 2,120 solar panels mounted on a parking facility that covers nearly 28,000 square feet. Chevron Energy Solutions managed the project, which also included energy-efficiency improvements such as new energy-efficient lighting systems; heating, cooling and ventilation systems; air compressors; and energy management controls.

    The improvements will reduce the facility's annual electricity purchases by more than $615,000 and its power consumption by more than 33 percent, or about 5.5 million kilowatt-hours per year. The improvements will also lower the facility's natural gas use by about 43,000 therms per year. The $6.3-million project was funded entirely through energy savings and utility rebates incentives, including a $1.6-million rebate from Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) self-generation incentive program. PG&E will also provide a $300,000 rebate for the energy efficiency improvements at the facility. See the Chevron Energy Solutions press release.

    The new USPS solar installation arrives on the scene just as the nation's largest-ever business-to-business and business-to-consumer solar expo and conference kicks off in San Francisco. Solar Power 2004, presented by the Solar Electric Power Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), started on October 18th and runs through October 21st. See the SEIA press release and the conference Web site.