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Mayor Bowser Announces Largest Municipal Onsite Solar Project in US

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

(Washington, DC) – Today, while the UN Conference on Climate Change summit meets in Paris, Mayor Muriel Bowser demonstrated the District’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainability by entering into one of the largest municipal onsite solar projects in the United States. The DC Department of General Services’ (DGS) Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Nextility Inc., will boost the city’s total solar generation capacity by roughly 70 percent through the deployment of 11.4 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems on the roofs and parking lots of 34 District-owned facilities. The agreement, signed last week will take effect on immediately.

“This Power Purchase Agreement doubles down on my Administration’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainability – using District government assets as staging grounds to capture the sun’s energy and power our building portfolio,” said Mayor Bowser. “Beyond renewable energy and cost savings, this project will elevate the District’s local economy, spur small business development and create jobs.”

The PPA is expected to save District taxpayers more than $25 million over the PPA’s 20-year term. Onsite generation avoids costly distribution and transmission charges on each megawatt hour (MWH) produced, in addition to avoided capacity charges for peak demand reduction. DGS also expects additional peak-season cost savings for electricity purchases from off-site energy sources in the summer months, when both demand and solar output is often greatest.

“The immense scale of this solar acquisition reduces District energy costs, serves as a business model for other city governments to replicate and unequivocally prioritizes investment in the clean energy economy,” said Mark Chambers, Director of Sustainability and Energy at DGS. “The solar photovoltaic systems are scheduled to be placed in service toward the conclusion of 2016, at which point the agency will begin purchasing and receiving power. DGS will pay a contractually-established unit rate per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by the systems for 20 years.”

“This solar PPA exemplifies the District’s commitment to growing jobs and the economy through sustainable development,” said Christopher Weaver, DGS Acting Director. “During design and construction, the project will catalyze $20 million in local spending, create more than 140 jobs (85 in construction), and support five permanent jobs for ongoing operation and maintenance of the solar systems. The project will also help establish a community scale network of distributed generation assets throughout the District.”
The solar photovoltaic systems will produce roughly 13,800 MWHs of electricity each year, serving 3.5 percent of the DGS portfolio’s total annual electricity needs and reducing peak summer demand by 15 percent. In buildings that receive solar photovoltaic systems, approximately 20 percent of their electricity consumption will be met by the new onsite solar generation.
“As a native Washingtonian, I'm proud to enter into this agreement with the city's Department of General Services, and to contribute to the city's renewable energy goals. DC-based Nextility and Sol Systems, together with our local partner Standard Solar, are enthusiastic about beginning construction on these projects and what it means for the District's future,” said Zach Axelrod, Nextility CEO.

In July, DGS signed the largest 20-year wind PPA of its kind ever entered into by an American city. The PPA is already serving approximately 35 percent of the government’s total electricity needs from a regional wind farm. The DGS Wind Power Purchase Agreement has been chosen as one of 33 finalists from 216 applications worldwide competing to receive a C40 Cities Award during the United National Conference on Climate Change this December in Paris, France. Concurrently, last month DGS was honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a Green Power Leadership Award, recognizing the District’s commitment to 100 percent green energy purchasing.