Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (Suntech), in partnership with the City of Santa Barbara and Tioga Energy Inc. (Tioga Energy), has announced the commencement of city's 384 kW DC solar power system. The system will produce 550,000 kWh of energy per year, effectively offsetting 421,466 lbs, or 191 metric tons, of carbon dioxide.

The speaker program consists of local Nobel Prize Laureate and sustainability advocate Walter Kohn and Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, who will dedicate the City’s corporate yard solar system.

We are excited to produce clean, renewable power here in Santa Barbara while simultaneously reducing our energy costs, said Marty Blum, mayor of the City of Santa Barbara. Our climate is perfect for solar, we can apply the savings to other city programs, and we are helping the environment. This is a tremendous win for everyone.

The system, which is spread among the corporate yard’s roofs, features Suntech modules designed to lessen aesthetic impact while providing maximum energy output. Suntech solar panels were selected for their consistent high quality, reliable performance, and efficiency. Suntech Energy Solutions installed the system in Fall 2008 in less than three months.

Working with the City of Santa Barbara and Tioga Energy has been a pleasure for Suntech, said Marco Garcia, vice president of project development for Suntech. We look forward to helping cities and local governments follow Santa Barbara’s lead in converting unused land and roof space into power generating assets.

The solar energy system was constructed without any large capital outlay on behalf of the City of Santa Barbara. Instead, the system is financed and operated by Tioga Energy, through its SurePath solar power purchase agreement (PPA). Through the SurePath PPA agreement, Tioga Energy sells the energy produced by the system to the city at a fixed, predictable price over the 20-year contract term. As a result, the city obtains immediate energy savings and a hedge against future utility rate increases, without the hassle of owning the system outright.

With its commitment to clean energy, the City is demonstrating that solar power is an affordable option for public agencies concerned with reducing carbon emissions, said Paul Detering, chief executive officer of Tioga Energy. Our collaborative effort with the City of Santa Barbara and Suntech provides the City with predictably-priced power and demonstrates how successful public-private partnerships can help municipalities meet their financial and sustainability objectives.

This is equal to removing 35 cars from the road, saving 21,328 gallons of gasoline, or powering over 100 Santa Barbara-area homes a year (based on a single family occupancy energy use of 5,000 kWh per year).

This first system is a first step in reducing our energy costs and producing clean, renewable energy. We look forward to ‘throwing the switch’ on more projects in the years to come, said Mayor Marty Blum.