The Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport had two solar power systems installed onsite and made them live in February. Over the course of their electricity-generating life spans, they will offset thousands of tons of CO2 emissions and potentially save millions of dollars.
Sonoma County has been hit particularly hard by wildfires in the last several years. These natural disasters occur with some regularity on their own, but many believe the latest ones are connected to the effects of climate change. The county has been experiencing higher temperatures and droughts as well. As a result of these challenges, Sonoma County’s government set a goal for the county to be carbon neutral by 2030. The airport solar power installations fit within the carbon-free plan. (The California state government has a goal for California to be operating on clean, carbon-free electricity by 2045.)
Jon Stout, the Sonoma Airport Manager, and Rachel McLaughlin, ForeFront Power’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, provided some insights to CleanTechnica about the new solar power systems. (The last three answers are from ForeFront.)
Why was Sonoma County interested in having a solar power system installed at the Sonoma airport?
Sonoma County set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. Procuring the solar energy portfolio at the Airport and Fleet Operations locations contributes to the County’s sustainability goal and environmental leadership while also protecting against utility price volatility.
How long did the installation take, and what are some of the key benefits?
Sonoma County selected ForeFront Power to develop, finance, and construct the solar energy portfolio at no up-front cost to the County through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), executed in late 2019. This immediately kicked off design and procurement of the Sonoma County solar portfolio. Construction began in 2021 and the system was completed in January 2022.
Through the PPA, the County is paying a fixed, below-market rate for energy, providing budget certainty, and avoiding ongoing utility rate increases that so many are facing in California.
ForeFront Power will continue to operate and maintain the systems, ensuring they are performing optimally to produce the guaranteed maximum amount of renewable electricity, allowing the airport staff to focus on providing a first class travel experience.
Combined, the 884 kW system at the Sonoma County Airport and the 79 kW system at the Sonoma County Fleet Building will generate over 1,495,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy per year, offsetting 1,060 metric tons of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to removing 230 passenger vehicles from the road each year.
In addition, the next time travelers fly out of …….