Park district kicks off renewable energy project at Shadow Cliffs

Solar carport system slated for completion in December

Park district officials, project representatives and politicians were on hand at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area Friday to celebrate the kickoff of a project that will have an impact far beyond the Pleasanton park's borders.

East Bay Regional Park District is undertaking a $7.5 million energy efficiency project that primarily consists of the installation of a 70,000 square-foot solar panel carport system. The carport system will be split among three parking lots. Besides providing needed shade for cars, the solar panels are expected to generate 1.2 megawatts of energy annually -- enough to offset electricity use across nearly the entire 120,000-acre park district.

"It's amazing that you can cover nearly all the energy use for 65 parks in one place," East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle said Friday.

The project, which is scheduled for completion in December, also consists of a new recycled water line, three electric car charging stations and the planting of native trees. While Borrego Solar workers officially began work on Aug. 11, the park district gathered community members for the ceremonial groundbreaking on Friday morning.

With the air still and warm and construction noises whirring in the background, Doyle told the ceremony audience how the project idea came about from a tour with park district supervisors. Upon realizing water pumps were running nonstop, he wondered whether the agency could do a better job with its energy use.

That led the district to bring in the consulting firm Newcomb Anderson McCormick to help it devise a solar energy project. At first, consultants researched small projects that could be implemented at 50 East Bay parks. But then they set their sights on one big, centrally located endeavor and the Shadow Cliffs proposal came to be.

"This is a part of our environmental mission and what we believe in as a park district," Doyle said, adding that this project is one that the agency would like to see others take on as well.

Before joining East Bay Regional Park District employees and board members for a groundbreaking photo, Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne lauded the park district's renewable energy endeavor.

"All of us are making great strides toward making this a more sustainable place," Thorne said.

For more information on the project, visit the East Bay Regional Park District website.

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8 people like this
Posted by John Hitchen
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm

The East Bay Regional Parks Pleasanton Ridge project is a perfect example of how solar power projects should be prioritized. Economies of scale suggest that large solar projects such as this parking lot shade structure are the most ecological and cost effective at the same time. Bob Doyle is correct in his amazement at the power of one large project.
This is a much better approach than sticking half a dozen panels on a residential roof. Cities, Counties, and the State of California should all embrace the vision of larger scale solar projects such as these-right in our Urban landscape.

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