Public Sector


Kings County, California

Kings County California
"We are grateful to all of the teams involved for their dedication in enabling Kings County to realize the benefits of solar energy without compromising the budget…Kings County’s sustainable energy future is brighter thanks to OpTerra Energy Services and its commitment to seeing this project to completion."
— Larry Spikes, County Administrative Officer, Kings County

The Opportunity

Kings County is located in the agricultural region of the San Joaquin Valley, California. In 2004, County officials took action to improve infrastructure, while reducing energy costs and the environmental impact of County facilities. The County partnered with OpTerra Energy Services to design and install a comprehensive series of infrastructure improvements at key public facilities including the Government Center and Public Library in Hanford.

The Partnership

Phase I: Keeping Costs Down with Cogeneration Modernizations

The County and OpTerra kicked off the program by installing a cogeneration system which addressed the County’s current and future facility, operational, and budgetary needs. County leaders viewed the new cogeneration system as a smart economic application to ensure reliable power and reduce energy costs. OpTerra installed ten microturbines to generate power onsite from natural gas at the County Government Center, along with a 175-ton chiller running on the waste heat from the microturbines. The cogeneration system’s waste heat is used to heat buildings in the winter and cool them in the summer, significantly lowering the County’s electricity and natural gas costs.

The energy savings from the cogeneration system allowed the County to add other work to the project to provide better facilities for occupants, such as roof replacements at four county buildings, and the installation of a 70-ton chiller for the Hanford Library to replace the existing chiller. To help cover program costs, the County was awarded $600,000 from the Self-Generation Incentive Program administered by Southern California Edison.

Phase II: Making Strides towards More Comfortable Facilities

A second phase of work, which focused on HVAC improvements and other critical energy efficiency upgrades, launched in the summer of 2008. OpTerra helped the County ac- complish its key objectives, including providing chilled and hot water to the new Human Services and Public Works building, upgrading the existing Main Campus Central Plant, and lowering operating expenses with a particular focus on reducing energy consump- tion and cost.

The new, more efficient and reliable boilers, chillers, interior/exterior lighting systems, and energy management system not only reduce energy usage on campus, but also improve the working environment for the staff and visitors. The thermal energy storage system allows the County to use inexpensive energy at night to run the chillers and make ice and then melt that ice in the daytime and use it to air-condition the buildings. As a result of the upgrades, County staff now has more capability to manage energy use with an expanded energy management system. Additionally, for this phase of work, the County received $100,000 in incentives from Southern California Edison’s Express Efficiency program.

Phase III: Lighting the Way to Renewable Power

In 201 , Kings County leveraged momentum from the cogeneration and energy efficiency projects to expand to an additional phase of work, encompassing solar PV systems, lighting retrofits, and irrigation upgrades. With the installation of solar PV parking canopies at the Hanford Library and the Government Center, Kings County is able to generate clean energy to reduce its electricity needs and carbon footprint, all while providing a shaded place for County staff and community members to park their vehicles.

Also part of Phase III, high efficiency and LED interior/exterior lighting retrofits were performed at critical, high-traffic County service facilities including Animal Control, the Fire Department, the Health Department, and several libraries. In a region struggling to preserve its water resources, the County’s irrigation upgrades are a critical component of meeting broader, regional water conservation efforts.

To help offset the cost of the project, OpTerra assisted the County in identifying and securing over $600,000 in incentive funding from the California Solar Initiative managed by Southern California Edison. Throughout all phases, OpTerra’s team of financing experts maximized available utility incentives, grants and loan opportunities, all at no additional charge to the County.

The Impact

As a result of the long-lasting, multi-phased partnership with OpTerra, Kings County is expected to achieve nearly $12 million in net energy savings. This self-funding program reduces energy consumption, lowers costs and operating expenses, improves lighting quality and aesthetics of County facilities, and provides consistent indoor climates.

By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, Kings County has demonstrated its commitment to environmental stewardship. As a result of all program phases, Kings County has reduced CO2 emissions equivalent to taking over 500 cars off the road every year.

The Technical Scope

Phase I
  • New 600 kW cogeneration system, comprised of ten 60 kW microturbines
  • 175-ton absorption chiller
  • Roof replacements at four buildings at the Government Center
  • 70-ton chiller replacement at Hanford Library

Phase II
  • New 1,100-ton central cooling and heating plant
  • New thermal energy storage system to store enough energy to satisfy summer on peak cooling demand
  • New energy management system
  • Interior/exterior lighting retrofits at 27 buildings

Phase III
  • Interior/exterior lighting retrofits at 21 sites
  • Irrigation upgrades at the Government Center, Kingston Park, and Hickey Park
  • New air conditioning units at Data Center and Health Administration
  • 504 kW of solar PV power on parking canopy systems at Hanford Library and the Government Center

Kings County