Construction starts on 27 MW behind-the-meter solar for California water treatment plants


The City of Fresno, Calif. Department of Public Utilities (DPU) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a 27 MW behind-the-meter solar and battery energy storage portfolio.

Three energy-intensive sites, including the Fresno-Clovis Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility and two surface water treatment facilities, will host the solar arrays and co-located storage. Once completed, Fresno-Clovis project will be among the largest metered solar energy and battery storage projects in California, adding 17 MW of solar and 2.3 MW of energy storage.

The project is developed in partnership with ForeFront Power, a solar and energy storage developer operating in the U.S. and Mexico. ForeFront will develop, own and maintain the portfolio, and the City of Fresno will purchase the electricity generated at a fixed rate power purchase agreement (PPA).

The PPA enabled the City to develop the portfolio at no upfront cost and without using bond funds. The City of Fresno achieves a fixed, below-market rate for electricity, aiding with budget certainty.

The DPU solar projects are part of the City of Fresno’s plan to lower energy costs, improve resiliency and reduce emissions. In a rising energy cost environment, DPU projects the plan will save the city $100 million in taxpayer dollars by 2045.

Construction of the ground-mounted projects will be conducted by the IBEW Local 100 local union labor group. Development of the city’s solar and storage portfolio has created 192 local jobs, with the three solar and storage projects accounting for 120 local jobs.

The three solar projects are expected to lead to the avoidance of 37,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is equivalent to removing the emissions of 7,000 gas-powered vehicles or offsetting the emissions by planting 550,000 trees.

“With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the City is harnessing one of its most abundant resources to protect pocket books, the air, and the climate all at once,” said Rachel McLaughlin, senior vice president of sales and marketing, ForeFront Power.

In addition to the DPU portfolio, the City of Fresno is currently working with ForeFront Power to develop new behind-the-meter solar and storage assets, including a project at a new airport terminal building, a bus yard, and at police and fire stations.

The City of Fresno procured its solar energy and smart battery storage assets by leveraging the Renewable Energy Aggregated Procurement (REAP) program. REAP provides public sector buyers with pre-negotiated contracts, pricing, and standardized terms. ForeFront Power was selected by the City of Fresno through the program via an integrated Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

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