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Mixed Messages for Solar Projects Across the Nation

MercedsolararraysSolar projects across the nation this week are supporting their state’s renewable energy requirements, completing their financing, or receiving incentive payments for installations. Yet, one project in Los Angeles has been cancelled due to high costs and a lack of support.

As one of its efforts to comply with Ohio’s renewable energy requirements, the Dayton Power and Light Co. is constructing a $5-million solar power facility near its Yankee substation in Washington Township, reports Dayton Business Journal.

Construction of the 1.1-megawatt solar-array project, consisting of 9,000 solar panels on seven acres, will begin this month and is expected to be on line in March 2010, reports the newspaper. The facility will generate enough electricity to power nearly 150 homes, according to the article.

In California, Wells Fargo and SunPower Corp. have completed financing on the 1-megawatt solar power system commissioned last month at the University of California, Merced. The system, consisting of 4,900 solar panels, will provide two-thirds of the campus’ electricity on summer days and 20 percent of the campus’ annual electricity needs.

SunPower financed the system with Wells Fargo through a $100 million sale leaseback financing program.

Under the financing program, SunPower enters into power purchase agreements with qualified customers, and Wells Fargo finances the solar power systems that SunPower designs, builds, operates, and maintains. Customers hosting the systems buy the electricity from SunPower at competitive prices.

NV Energy Inc. has issued a $1-million incentive payment to the city of Reno for the installation of solar panels on a downtown parking garage and the Reno Events Center, reports AP. The solar projects are expected to cut the city’s electricity bill by $55,000 and reduce its annual electricity use by about 420,000 kWh.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has cancelled plans for a 970-acre solar farm near the Salton Sea, due to high costs for the 55-megawatt project, according to the Los Angeles Times. Members of the City Council also signaled they were unprepared to support the project, according to the article.

The City Council also plans to create a new watchdog over the DWP due to distrust by the public over pricing as well as anxiety over Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s ambitious renewable energy plans, which they say are likely to lead to higher electricity bills, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In July, Villaraigosa announced the city would stop using coal-burning power plants and generate at least 40 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. He also announced plans for 10 percent of L.A.’s electricity to come from solar power by 2020.

The DWP solar farm near the Salton Sea was to become L.A.’s first solar power generation project, but instead, will pursue plans to develop a large solar facility on Owens Lake near Lone Pine in Central California, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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