The new solar system will be financed and built by Borrego Solar through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA), which is expected to save the Airport Authority between $3 million and $8 million over the period of the contract.
“A private investor will pay for the installation and sell the energy it produces to San Diego International Airport at a competitive rate,” a spokesperson from Borrego said. “That is typically less than what they pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to their local utility. The SDIA pays nothing up front, they’ll see savings on their energy bill, they’re ‘greening’ their energy mix, and they’ll have insight into what the cost per kWh is over the term of the PPA. To a certain degree, that insulates them from the volatility of the energy market as the cost of electricity trends upwards.”
“PPAs sound too good to be true,” he continued, “but they are indeed a win-win for all parties involved. The system owner/investor gets a return on the investment. San Diego airport obtains solar without making the capital investment. Borrego Solar is paid to design, construct, operate and maintain the project. How is this possible? Because the initial commodity (IE: the energy) that sets this transaction in motion is available for free from the sun!”
“This solar project – the first at the airport – will be a noteworthy and visible highlight of our ongoing commitment to sustainability” said Thella F. Bowens, President and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
The airport recently underwent a $1 billion “Green Build” terminal expansion. In order to reduce traffic congestion, ten new gates were installed. A dual-level roadway, separating arrival and departure passengers, was built to reduce traffic. In addition more security lanes were added for increased passenger flow, and the concession areas were expanded. Everything is LEED Silver certified and, through more than 1.4 million kWh recouped by energy efficient solutions, expected to cost $450,000 a year less to maintain than a normal building of its calibre.
In February 2012, San Diego became the first US commercial airport to install LEDs on its runways, guard lights, and airfield signs. This lowered the airport’s electricity costs by $27,000 per month.
That same year, it became the first US airport to publish an annual sustainability report based on Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, and in February 2014 San Diego became the first airport to sign the Climate Declaration.
Borrego Solar will start the project in mid-2014 and is expected to finish late this year.