BART approves solar panels at Orinda station

July 10, 2008 12:58:44 PM PDT
Bay Area Rapid Transit District directors voted unanimously today to have solar panels installed at the Orinda station in a program that's projected to save riders and taxpayers $3.4 million over 20 years.

Board members gave general manager Dorothy Dugger the authority to award a $3.8 million contract to SunEdison LLC of Beltsville, Md. to install a canopy made out of solar panels over one of the parking lots at the Orinda station.

BART officials say that during daylight hours the solar panels will supply the station with nearly all its electrical needs. The trains, however, run off a separate power source and will not use the solar electricity.

The panels will also provide shaded parking for some Orinda riders.

In a statement, BART board president Gail Murray said, "Our customers are going to love this deal because it allows BART to profit from soaking up the sun while our riders benefit from the shade and the savings!"

Hundreds of BART workers will also benefit from the deal, agency officials said, because it calls for installing solar panels on the roofs of two other BART facilities: the Richmond and Hayward maintenance shops.

They say that means much of the electricity workers need to maintain many of the 669 train cars in BART's fleet will come from the sun.

BART officials project that over the next 20 years they will be able to shave approximately $3.4 million off their energy costs because the energy conservation agreement also identifies significant ways to reduce energy consumption at the maintenance shops.

BART Director Bob Franklin, who chairs the board's new Sustainability/Green Committee, said, "By both installing the solar panels and implementing the energy conservation plan, BART will save millions."

Franklin said, "This investment in renewable and efficient energy highlights to the public the sustainable nature of taking public transportation."


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