Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister has added solar panels to their building. The year-long project went live Jan. 10 and has already seen some benefits.
"What it does is it takes our $3,500 average electric bill and cuts it down to $1,600. The building uses about 80 percent of what we make on a good day," said Hollister city councilman Ray Friend.
"90% of the time it's just selling power. We only have about five days a month where someone is using the building during the daylight. All the weekends are booked and there's occasional meetings at night," he added.
Veterans Memorial Building, located on San Benito Street, is one of the oldest historical buildings in Hollister. The building is used for different kinds of events including weddings, parties, meetings, and corporate events. In Nov. 2013, the city approved an agreement with local Veterans groups to let them manage daily operations and the rental of the building. The city of Hollister owns the building.
With no monies available to fund the project Vista Solar took it upon themselves to secure a loan to get the it off the ground.
"Vista was the successful bidder, then it became a financing issue because the city doesn't pay any taxes on this building. We couldn't use PACE so we had to go find a way to finance $180,000," Friend said.
Property Assessed Clean Energy, also known as PACE, allows property owners to fund energy and water efficiency as well as renewable energy projects with little or no up-front cost. Residential and commercial property owners who live in a participating district can finance up to 100% of their project and pay it back over time, according to their website.
Friend says the energy the building is making will be used to power the whole building.
"On a very busy day, let's say on a Saturday when there's a wedding going on, we would only be using about 80% of what is being produced. We're reducing our carbon footprint 100% because the building never uses enough electricity that we have to buy from PG&E," he said. "Now at night that’s a different story. We've built during the day up so many credits so at night we're not changing the carbon footprint."
He says he wants the city to add solar panels to all of their buildings.
"I think all the city buildings should be solar. If you look at downtown there's maybe four buildings that the city controls. That's probably 10% of savings or reduction of our carbon footprint," he said.
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