CDCR Announces Multiple Efficiency-Retrofit, Clean-Energy Projects

WASCO, Calif. — California corrections officials outlined a major facilities retrofit, energy conservation and solar power plan designed to reduce the state prison system’s carbon footprint and operational costs.

Work is already under way on the $13 million first phase of energy efficiency retrofit projects to upgrade 16 facilities. The building systems upgrades, which include HVAC, lighting and motor upgrades at each prison, are projected to save 25 million kWh of power each year and result in annual cost savings of $3.2 million, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials say.

The efficiency upgrades will reduce annual energy consumption at CDCR facilities by an estimated 650,000 therms, the equivalent to taking more than 3,700 automobiles off the road, officials say.

“As California’s largest agency, with 67,000 dedicated employees spread across hundreds of physical locations throughout this diverse state, CDCR has a unique opportunity to make a huge impact on California’s energy grid on a daily basis,” says Matthew Cate, CDCR secretary.

The CDCR, which operates 33 facilities throughout the state, developed the energy savings plan in response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s green initiative executive order of 2004, which requires state agencies in California to evaluate clean and renewable on-site energy production technologies for all new construction and large renovation projects.

“By utilizing green technology, our prison system is improving the environment and maximizing taxpayer dollars, and it is my hope that others across the state and nation will follow this example,” says Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The CDCR is a member of the California Climate Action Registry, a nonprofit organization formed as part of the statewide initiative to encourage government agencies, private companies and other organizations to voluntarily measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

The 16 retrofit projects are scheduled for completion by 2009 and augment existing CDCR energy savings and renewable generation projects that include peak load reduction and solar generation programs.

The CDCR has photovoltaic-array fields operating at Ironwood and Chuckawalla Valley state prisons and officials also identified the 5,900-inmate state prison, in Wasco, as one of six prisons that will host new solar power fields. Each installation of photovoltaic arrays will produce more than one megawatt of clean energy annually, enough energy to power 226 households per year, according to officials.

Other sites under evaluation for solar projects, include the 5,900-inmate California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, the 5,400-inmate North Kern State Prison in Delano and two female facilities with a combined 8,100 inmates in Chowchilla.
“These energy projects allow our agency to harness solar power, maximize conservation efforts, increase efficiencies and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Cate says.

The $6.2 million, 1.18-megawatt ground-mounted photovoltaic system at Ironwood State Prison, 200 miles east of Los Angeles, provides up to 25 percent of peak-demand power and was developed through a public-private partnership between the CDCR and Maryland-based solar energy services provider Sun Edison.

The installation incorporates 6,200 computer-controlled solar panels, and will deliver 2.4 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy during the first year of operation and an estimated 43 million kwh of solar energy during the next 20, according to reports.

Under a similar solar power services agreement with Sun Edison in 2006, the CDCR activated a 1.16-MW solar energy installation at the 3,900-inmate medium-security Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

The latest retrofit projects were also developed through a public-private partnership program between the corrections department and investor-owned utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company, Southern California Gas Company and San Diego Gas and Electric Company. Projects are funded in part by the investor-owned utilities and the CDCR incurred no upfront capital investment costs by securing the remaining necessary funds through low interest loans from the Department of General Services.

The leadership and efforts of the CDCR in alternative power and energy efficiency serve as a model for all other state agencies in saving energy and protecting our environment, says Anne Shen Smith, senior vice president of customer services for San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Co.

Schwarzenegger’s 2004 executive order mandates that state agencies enact “measures to reduce grid-based energy purchases by 20 percent by 2015, through cost-effective efficiency measures and distributed generation technologies.”

“These energy conservation and retrofit projects are great examples of the innovative public-private partnerships that I envisioned when issuing my Green Initiative Executive Order,” Schwarzenegger says.

In 2006, Schwarzenegger signed California’s landmark AB 32 legislation, which places mandatory caps on significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2012. AB 32 requires carbon emissions to be reduced to 25 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The legislation also established the California Air Resources Board to develop a comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms designed to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gases to mitigate and reverse climate change.

“California’s prison system is adamant about meeting the Governor’s energy reduction goals, and has an aggressive plan in place to increase efficiency statewide,” Cate says.