The San Antonio City Council has given the green light to the largest on-site solar project undertaken by a local Texas government. Valued at $30 million, the initiative is a significant step towards achieving San Antonio's 2040 goal of zero net energy consumption for all municipal buildings. The city has partnered with local developer Big Sun Solar for the project.
The expansive project encompasses the installation of rooftop, parking, and park canopy solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at 42 city facilities. The services agreement with Big Sun Solar not only aims to achieve energy and cost savings but also aligns with the city's vision of creating shade and weather protection and generating local employment opportunities.
Energy and Cost Savings: The solar installations are projected to generate electricity equivalent to approximately 11% of the city's annual electricity consumption from its buildings.
Shade and Weather Protection: Of the 42 installations, 23 will be parking canopies providing on-site power for municipal operations while offering shade and hail protection to people and vehicles.
Local Jobs: Big Sun Solar estimates the project will create more than 15 full-time jobs. Collaborating with the St. Phillip’s College Solar Apprenticeship Program, the initiative will also contribute to training students in solar energy.
Chief Sustainability Officer, Douglas Melnick, expressed the significance of the project, stating, "This will be the largest local government on-site solar project in Texas and the second-largest in the nation."
City Manager Erik Walsh highlighted the city's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and adapting to climate change, saying, "The City of San Antonio is setting a new standard in Texas of what is possible."
Funding Sources: The project will utilize incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, the State Energy Conservation Office LoanStar low-interest loan, and local tax dollars.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg praised the approval, emphasizing the positive impact on the community, stating, "Today’s vote was a big win for San Antonio."
Solar installations are scheduled to commence in Spring 2024, with an expected completion date in the Fall of 2026. Jason Pittman, President of Big Sun Solar, expressed the company's honor in being selected for the project, emphasizing the diverse locations for solar shade canopies, including parks, community centers, and sports facilities.
The project not only supports the city's carbon neutrality goals but also represents an innovative collaboration between local and state funding, along with federal incentives for clean energy. San Antonio aims to lead by example, demonstrating how innovative approaches can contribute to a healthier and sustainable future for the community.