City of Simi Valley, California
Soal PV installations at the Simi Valley Police Station
The City of Simi Valley has a long history of prioritizing conservation initiatives that enhance energy savings programs for its facilities. With a long legacy of energy improvements, in 2014 the City partnered with OpTerra Energy Services to add 2.2 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to its energy profile. This program, completed in September 2017, is another demonstration of Simi Valley’s energy efficiency leadership and conservative fiscal planning. Previous recognition for Simi Valley’s leadership in sustainability includes Beacon Spotlight Awards in 2012 and 2013, Silver Tier recognition in the Energy Leader Partnership (ELP), and LEED Gold certification for the Transit Facility.
Despite all this great momentum, prior to the partnership with OpTerra, Simi Valley was still facing rising energy costs. The many successful, stand-alone environmental initiatives the community had championed over the years still needed a formal strategy to address its energy challenges. In partnership with OpTerra, the City developed a strategic energy program that is coupled with a meaningful sustainability program called Simi Valley Conserves to further promote energy conservation amongst residents.
In March of 2016, the Simi Valley City Council approved an agreement with OpTerra to install solar power at vital City service centers across the community. A total of 2.2 MW of solar is projected to generate the equivalent to enough energy annually to power 282 homes. As part of program development, OpTerra conducted an energy analysis which provided insight into the solar production potential at all City sites, identifying the ideal locations for the PV modules. Solar shade parking canopies installed at several City locations provide shaded daytime parking for more than 165 cars. OpTerra managed all facets of solar sizing, design, and construction.
Nearly 90 percent of the energy program was financed through more than $9.2 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB) with a tax-exempt lease purchase (TELP) covering the difference. OpTerra and the City also worked swiftly to capture limited and dwindling funds from incentive programs, cashed in on today’s low interest rates and wasted less money maintaining outdated infrastructure to achieve more immediate savings. The installed solar power will cover one-third of the City’s energy use.
Simi Valley Conserves: Bringing Energy Education and Savings to Simi Valley
The partnership between Simi Valley and OpTerra encompassed an energy conservation awareness program called Simi Valley Conserves to help residents and business owners reduce their energy use by providing free energy consultations. The collaboration helped build workforce capacity in clean tech and energy by training and hiring Simi Valley Unified School District students as Energy Ambassadors as part of a paid internship program. A total of 15 Simi Valley senior high school students worked alongside energy experts to perform home energy consultations, which can reduce a household’s energy usage by an average of ten percent per year, freeing up disposable income for local economic stimulation. Energy Ambassadors gained valuable work experience in a STEM field, received an introduction to energy conservation, and had opportunities to engage with their local community through a variety of community outreach efforts including attending a City Green Expo and speaking at community events and civic meetings.
Through a successful, united partnership, the City of Simi Valley and OpTerra achieved an advantageous program that will have long-term positive environmental, economic and human impact in the community. The City is proud of the $15 million in net savings, as well as the successful student internship program and their new solar systems.
The Technical ScopeDeveloped and implemented a total of 2.2 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power at five City Sites:
|Project Location||System Size|
|City Hall Solar (Rooftop)||194 kW|
|Police Department (Parking Lot & Rooftop)||610 kW|
|Library (Parking Lot)||127 kW|
|Senior Center (Parking Lot Solar)||177 kW|
|Wastewater Treatment Plant (Groundmount)||1,118 kW|
About The Capacity Project™
OpTerra developed The Capacity Project in 2012 to support its partner cities after recognizing that economic and workforce development was a critical challenge, in addition to saving energy and conserving water. Through The Capacity Project, OpTerra has been helping to meet cities’ Climate Action Plan goals and building the capacity of the future workforce through real-world working experiences. Simi Valley’s customized brand of The Capacity Project, Simi Valley Conserves, reaches multiple stakeholders —residents, youth and industry— advancing economic development, preparing local workforce for relevant careers, and engaging the community to enhance their quality of life.
The Simi Valley Conserves program was developed as part of an exclusive partnership between OpTerra and WattzOn, an innovative company that administers local programming, including software tools, student training and internships, and monthly reporting to stakeholders throughout the community. The software platform has been used by over 35 communities across the U.S. and participating residents typically save 8 – 12% on utility bills. Using WattzOn’s advanced utility data software, residents can track their own energy savings. OpTerra and WattzOn have customized and successfully implemented similar internship programs at two other cities in California.
Interns through The Capacity Project engaged community members about the importance of energy conservation in the City of Simi Valley.