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09/16/2008 07:00:00

Caltech Solar Project Receives City Rebate

Project is largest of its kind in Pasadena

PASADENA, Calif.-- The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and EI solutions, a leader in solar solutions, announced today that the City of Pasadena has granted a rebate to the city's largest-ever solar-energy facility as part of the Pasadena Water & Power Pasadena Solar Initiative (PSI) program. The facility is located on top of Caltech's Holliston parking structure and will begin operation in the next few months. The project is the city's first large-scale power purchase agreement in the area. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place November 4.

"We appreciate the city's help and assistance in achieving this milestone for all of Pasadena," says Jim Cowell, Caltech associate vice president for facilities. "This facility will allow us to reduce our dependence on nonrenewable sources of energy and allow Caltech to conduct research in a more sustainable way."

The PSI is offered by Pasadena Water and Power as an incentive to power customers. Caltech's rebate is a performance-based incentive (PBI) and will return to Caltech $0.632 per kilowatt-hour. The rebate will be paid in "five annual PBI payments based on actual metered energy output of solar power produced during each of the first five years of operation."

Pasadena-based EI Solutions designed the innovative system and is near completion of the installation. Under a power purchase agreement, the system will be owned by Solar Power Partners of Mill Valley, California. Through the agreement, Caltech will purchase, at a fixed price, 100 percent of the energy generated by the system.

The majority of Caltech's energy is supplied by an on-site campus cogeneration plant and by the City of Pasadena. The on-site generation facility provided 77 percent of campus consumption last year. Ultimately, Caltech hopes to add more solar facilities to the campus in an effort to further reduce its reliance on nonrenewable sources.

"We will be working with the city on future solar installations and appreciate the Pasadena Water and Power staff for working with us along the way," says Cowell.

This facility is expected to have an annual energy production of approximately 320,000 kilowatt-hours. The overall size of the structure is about 220 feet long by 90 feet wide, utilizes 1,404 Suntech solar panels, and covers more than half of the top level of the structure. Suntech solar panels were chosen for their consistent high quality and reliable performance and efficiency.

"As a local solar integrator, we're especially proud to be working with our neighbor, Caltech, on what will soon be the largest solar installation in Pasadena," says Andrew Beebe, president of EI Solutions. "By taking advantage of Pasadena's generous rebate program, Caltech is also setting a great example for other area companies on how economically feasible solar can be."

The solar-energy facility is one of many sustainability efforts the Caltech campus has undertaken in recent years. In addition to the cogeneration plant on campus, dining facilities use compostable food containers; incandescent light bulbs are being switched to compact fluorescent bulbs; grounds planners use water-wise landscaping; a green cleaning program is in use by the custodial staff; an award-winning recycling program accepts items from the campus and local community; construction is underway on three new buildings that are anticipated to receive LEED Gold certification; and the Caltech Electric Vehicle Club has electric cars that qualified users are free to drive.

About Caltech: With an outstanding faculty, including five Nobel laureates, and such off-campus facilities as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Palomar Observatory, and the W. M. Keck Observatory, the California Institute of Technology is one of the world's major research centers. The Institute also conducts instruction in science and engineering for a student body of approximately 900 undergraduates and 1,200 graduate students who maintain a high level of scholarship and intellectual achievement. Caltech's 124-acre campus is situated in Pasadena. Caltech is an independent, privately supported university. Learn more on the Web at

About EI Solutions: EI Solutions is one of California's fastest growing providers of commercial and utility-scale solar-power systems. The company has completed projects for a wide variety of public agencies and private companies including Sony, BT, and the largest solar installation on a U.S. corporate campus, a 1.6-megawatt system on Google's Mountain View headquarters. EI Solutions' headquarters are in San Rafael, California, where all engineering, project management, finance, and administrative functions are based. EI Solutions also operates a sales and marketing office in Pasadena, at the home of its parent company, Energy Innovations. Energy Innovations, an Idealab company, is a manufacturer of commercial solar products that maximize usable energy from the sun. More information can be found at or by calling 800.237.0916.

For a more comprehensive list of green initiatives at Caltech, go to the Sustainability at Caltech website at

Written by Jon Weiner