Forget shade trees and rusty aluminum carports. The bus fleet of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), in California, is going to be cooling its engines in style—in the shade of some serious solar canopies. VTA has installed solar parking canopy systems supporting 5,070 SunPower 425-watt high-efficiency solar panels at three of its bus maintenance sites. The systems, which have a combined capacity of 2.1 megawatt (MW), are expected to save VTA $2.7 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.
Two of the solar installations are located at the VTA’s San Jose facilities, including a 548-kilowatt (kW) system at its Chaboya Division and a 969-kW system at its Cerone Division. The third installation is a 637-kW system at the VTA North Division facility in Mountain View.
The project was made possible by a partnership with SunPower and Wells Fargo, which financed the systems. SunPower will maintain and operate the PV systems over the terms of VTA’s 20-year power purchase agreement. The power produced will offset the electricity demand of VTA’s three bus maintenance facilities, and more than 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
VTA is responsible for bus, light rail and para-transit operations in municipalities including Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose and Santa Clara, among others. The solar parking canopy project fits into the broader goals of VTA’s sustainability program, which outlines the organization’s commitment to the conservation of natural resources, reduction of greenhouse gases, prevention of pollution and the use of renewable energy and materials.