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Posted on: June 20, 2019

South Lake Tahoe Leadership Brings Solar Energy to the Sierra

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South Lake Tahoe, CA- South Lake Tahoe’s renewable energy leadership is providing the opportunity for the installation of substantive solar projects on the rooftops and properties of public buildings throughout the Sierra. The City took on this leadership role in May after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to become the Lead Agency for the Sierra under the Solar Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Fund, a not-for-profit program aimed to empower public agencies to evaluate and participate in regional collaborative procurement of municipal solar projects. Nevada City, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Tahoe Donner Association, Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency and the Grass Valley School District are just a few of the many public agencies in the Sierra standing to benefit from the City’s leadership.

Tomorrow, June 20, representatives from participating public agencies throughout the Sierra Nevada will head to South Lake Tahoe for a workshop to be facilitated by the SEED Fund team, a kick-off to the City’s leadership for the effort.

“Taking on the Lead Agency role for this MOU is absolutely aligned with and in the spirit of our dedication to the City’s 100% Renewable Resolution,” stated City council member Devin Middlebrook who had worked with City CivicSpark staff to bring the SEED opportunity to the area. The City’s 100% Renewable Resolution is a commitment to transition city-wide electricity to 100% renewable sources by 2032 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2040. The resolution also includes a commitment to achieve 50% municipal renewable energy by 2025. The resolution was passed unanimously by City Council in April of 2017.

The City’s decision to sign the Lead Agency MOU came after the SEED team completed pre-screen assessments for solar installations on government-owned properties. These preliminary evaluations were conducted on public facilities--both buildings and lots--in South Lake Tahoe as well as in communities throughout the Sierra Nevada, from Mariposa, to Truckee, to Grass Valley. The assessments analyzed the potential for each property to host solar installations, examining both the technical and financial feasibility of the sites. For South Lake Tahoe, the results of the pre-screen assessments were promising, indicating solar installation would significantly reduce dependence on the electricity grid and save the City money on its energy costs.

“Becoming the Solar Assessment Lead Agency for the Sierra was a risk-free proposition,” stated City Manager, Frank Rush. “Acting as the lead agency is relatively hand-offs. It is a free opportunity to engage extensive support and assistance from the SEED program to pursue cost-effective projects that would enable us to generate our own energy on-site.”

City Mayor Brooke Laine signed the MOU on May 13 after the City Council voted unanimously to become the Lead Agency at the May 7, 2019, City Council Meeting.

“We’re really pleased the City stepped into this leading role,” said Sierra Nevada Alliance Executive Director, Jenny Hatch. “It’s a positive and unifying step for communities across the range to become more energy efficient and resilient.”

Next steps include the SEED team moving forward with full feasibility assessments for the potential solar projects. Pending the results of these full assessments and municipal interest, participating entities in the project can go in together on the issuance of a regional request for proposals (RFP) for installation. The City will continue to act as the face of this progressive effort for the Sierra region, hosting meetings and trainings, issuing the joint RFP, and evaluating bids from solar contractors.

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