Fresno County's new solar energy system is complete

Alec Nolan Image
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Fresno County's new solar energy system is complete
After five months of construction, the largest public-sector solar system in Fresno County is complete and a contract is set for the next 20 years.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- After 5 months of construction, the largest public sector solar system in Fresno County is complete, and a contract is set for the next 20 years.

According to the county's Director of Internal Services, Robert Bash, that means millions in savings.

"Our estimate is to have savings of upward of $17 million over the course of that agreement," Bash said.

He and dozens of others celebrated the completion of the site, which sits next to the Juvenile Justice Center on American Avenue near Golden State Boulevard.

The ground-mount solar system is comprised of nearly 9,000 panels, which is expected to cover 80% of the Juvenile Justice Center's annual electrical demand.

To facilitate the project, the county partnered with solar energy developer Forefront Power to build the system at no upfront cost.

Brian Taylor works as Forefront Power's Director of the Public Sector.

"We finance the system," Taylor said.

Forefront owns and operates the solar, while charging the county a below-market fixed rate.

Taylor says in a time of inflation, everything except for the county's solar energy at the moment is costing more tomorrow than it did yesterday.

The project's fixed rate actually protects the county's budget from utility rate hikes for the next two decades.

Outside of saving taxpayer dollars, District 1 Supervisor Brian Pacheco says the project could also improve the valley's air quality.

"This solar project will reduce greenhouse gas emission equivalent to more than 1,000 vehicles each year," Pacheco said.

To provide even more perspective on how powerful this solar system is, officials say it will provide the equivalent of the energy used by 900 homes a year.

The system will help provide power to any device that uses electricity during the day, including air conditioners, security equipment and laptops.

Officials like Fresno County's Chief Probation Officer Kirk Haynes say it could also serve as a source of education for the dozens of young people who are in custody at the juvenile justice center.

"I anticipate that having this solar farm out here is going to be an opportunity for us to have a learning opportunity for some of our youth," Haynes said.