Santa Cruz Hotels Make Move to Solar Energy

by | Jan 29, 2007

Three Santa Cruz, California hotels are installing solar systems, Renewable Energy Access reports. A 22kW system installed on the Sunset Inn is up and running, and the Best Western Inn (20kW) and Best Western All Suites Inn (51kW) are awaiting final electrical tie-in with the grid.

All three projects, installed by Borrego Solar, take advantage of the California Energy Commission’s pilot Performance-Based Incentive program, which utilizes the Internet to track system production. The CEC will pay the owners 50 cents for each kWh produced by the system for the next three years, a total savings of over $140,000.

Since hotel guests are generally outside during the daytime (and not staying inside using air conditioning), the hotel will receive credit for the power created during the day at valuable peak rates. On nights and weekends, when the majority of their power is being used, the owners will pay far less at off-peak rates. This is possible through the Net Energy Metering program, offered by utilities like PG&E. The hotel installations are likely to pay for themselves within four years.

The Best Western All Suites installation was placed on the hotel roof via a custom aluminum SunLink racking system. This system tilts up the modules in short rows so that the entire array is low in profile and has a large power density. It is also designed to resist high wind and seismic loads while still being lightweight, at less than 4 pounds per square foot. Borrego Solar installed a total of 892 solar panels on the three buildings. The solar panels were manufactured by Sharp Solar.

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