CG Green-TRACEN Petaluma Goes Solar

Written by PA3 Caleb Critchfield (with contributions from Robert Hopkins)
 
Four-acre solar array field at TRACEN Petaluma

Four-acre solar array field at TRACEN Petaluma (Coast Guard photo)

The Coast Guard has been providing marine environmental and natural resource protection for 175 years, but the Guardian ethos does not stop at the water’s edge.

Guardians are taking their dedication to the environment even further by implementing innovative eco-friendly solutions at units across the nation.

Coast Guard Training Center (TRACEN) Petaluma, located north of San Francisco near the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma, held a ceremony last week to unveil a four-acre solar panel array. This array, combined with an existing 125 kilowatt solar panel array, is a model for energy efficiency and sustainability for military and government facilities across the nation.

The array is expected to provide up to one megawatt of renewable power which will meet a majority of the facility’s daily electrical demand and up to 60 percent of its peak demand needs.

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) helps Capt. Christopher Hall, commanding officer of TRACEN Petaluma, flip a power switch to signify the opening of a newly constructed solar array field Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009. (Coast Guard photo by PA3 Erik Swanson)

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) helps Capt. Christopher Hall, commanding officer of TRACEN Petaluma, flip a power switch to signify the opening of a newly constructed solar array field Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009. (Coast Guard photo by PA3 Erik Swanson)

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) praised the Coast Guard in her remarks at the ceremony. “You just have to know how proud we all are that this community was the first to start something of this caliber,” Woolsey said. “The Coast Guard is a valued member of the community and should be proud of their achievement today.”

“We want to be a good neighbor and a good steward,” said Captain Chris Hall, Commanding Officer of TRACEN Petaluma. “This is an area that is incredibly environmentally sensitive. It’s important to our neighbors, it’s important to our Congresswoman, and to be a good steward in the Coast Guard is important to us.”

A small city in itself, TRACEN Petaluma consists of over 800 acres with 219 buildings, including 127 family housing units, a fully staffed medical clinic, a chapel, a small police and fire department, and over 200,000 square feet of training facilities.

The project was made possible through the Coast Guard’s first-ever Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with contractor SilRay Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. that enables the Coast Guard to benefit from the installation of the renewable energy resource facility with no up-front costs, and is able to purchase energy produced by the system at a contracted rate for the next 25 years.

The agreement helps the Coast Guard save money, have less of an impact on the environment and decreases the demand for energy on the local community power grid. The project is estimated to save TRACEN Petaluma $1.5 million in energy costs over the life of the contract.

TRACEN Petaluma is often described as the future of the Coast Guard for its critical role in training future generations of Guardians. It is also forging a future of innovation, environmental sustainability and community partnership that will define the Coast Guard for years to come.

Stay tuned for more “CG Green” features on the Coast Guard Compass Blog that will highlight what the Coast Guard is doing to be more environmentally friendly. You can also submit your ideas for a more sustainable federal government by the end of this month or visit the new CG Green Team site on the Coast Guard portal for sharing information and ideas on how to make the Coast Guard more energy efficient and reduce our impact on the environment. Together, we can make a difference.

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  • http://solartraining.blogspot.com training for solar

    great news. those san franciscans really are way ahead of the pack aren´t they? 60% of their energy needs cuts out a whole lot of dirty pollution

  • Robert Pettit

    Where were the solar modules manufactured? From the Silray web site ,I suspect China.If so shouldn’t our military be doing this sort of thing with US companies, considering our high unemployment rate??