Public Sector


City of Simi Valley, California

City of Simi Valley
Rendering of solar shade parking canopy to be installed.

The Opportunity

The City of Simi Valley, located in southeast Ventura County, is a thriving Southern California community with a population of more than 126,000 residents. The City has been a key leader in regional energy efficiency projects, adopting sustainable, energy saving programs long before other municipalities across California. Prior to state- wide mandated climate action goals initiated under AB32 in 2006, City staff pursued measures to save money and energy at the Water Quality Control Plant and pumping facilities. These early efforts in 2008 earned Simi Valley LEED Gold certification, with rebates from Southern California Edison for the expansion of its transit facility following in 2011. In 2012 and 2013, the City received Beacon Spotlight Awards through the Institute for Local Government for best practices in energy savings. In spite of all this great momentum, Simi Valley was still facing rising energy costs.

In 2016, building upon Simi Valley’s strong legacy of championing sustainability efforts in a fiscally responsible way, the City Council unanimously decided to move forward with OpTerra Energy Services to develop a comprehensive renewable energy program. Despite many successful, stand-alone environmental initiatives the community had championed over the years, the City needed a formal strategy to address its energy challenges. In partnership with OpTerra, the City has developed a strategic energy program that is coupled with a meaningful sustainability program called The Capacity Project™ to further promote energy conservation amongst residents.

The Partnership

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 at several City locations will provide shaded daytime parking for more than 165 cars. OpTerra will manage all facets of solar sizing, design, and construction. Nearly 90 percent of the energy program is expected to be financed through more than $9.2 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB) with a tax-exempt lease purchase (TELP) covering the difference. Solar power will cover one-third of the City’s energy use.


The partnership between Simi Valley and OpTerra encompasses an energy conservation awareness program called The Capacity Project to help residents and business owners reduce their energy use by providing free energy consultations. The collaboration helps 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.

Simi Valley sophomore through senior high school students work alongside energy experts to perform home energy consultations. Energy Ambassadors gain valuable work experience in a STEM field, receive an introduction to energy conservation, and have 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. As Energy Ambassadors, student interns gain valuable customer service and communication skills while educating residents on energy-saving behavioral changes they can make at home. The free home energy consultations can reduce a household’s energy usage by an average of ten percent per year, saving them money on their utility bills and creating more disposable income, stimulating the local economy.

The Impact

Through a successful, united partnership, the City of Simi Valley and OpTerra are about to kickoff the beginning of an advantageous program that will have long-term positive financial and environmental impact for residents. The City is expected to save more than $15 million over the 20-year program life, reduce its carbon footprint, and promote energy conservation and awareness amongst its residents and students. The City looks forward to student internships beginning in September 2016 and the solar panels going online in 2017.

The Technical Scope

Develop and implement a significant 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 Solar) 610 kW
Library (Parking Lot Solar) 127 kW
Senior Center (Parking Lot Solar) 177 kW
Wastewater Treatment Plant (Ground Mount Solar) 1118 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. The Capacity Project name was inspired by a quote from Mayor Luis Molina of Patterson, CA, "Your programs are building our city's 'capacities,' educating our youth and preparing them for the workforce." The Capacity Project 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.

City of Simi Valley
Former interns through The Capacity Project™ engaged community members about the importance of energy conservation in the City of Livermore, CA.