December 2, 2010 at 12:37 am

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Nine years after its first solar energy project came online, the City of Riverside has surpassed the milestone of producing more than 2 megawatts (MW) of local solar energy, enough power for approximately 1,500 homes in Southern California.

Three commercial projects totaling more than 120 kilowatts (kW) came online Monday pushing Riverside’s solar energy totals past the 2 MW mark, just 18 months after it had hit the 1 MW milestone in April 2009.

“This once again proves that the residents and businesses of the City of Riverside are committed to utilizing alternative energy resources,” said Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge. “It is another step toward becoming a model solar city.”

One of the projects coming online this week to put Riverside over the 2 MW milestone was a 67.62 kW solar energy system that was a part of a new “green” McDonalds restaurant, located at 2242 University Avenue. The 44-year-old restaurant, which temporarily sported green arches instead of golden ones, was completely rebuilt using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) standards.

In addition to the solar energy system, which is attached to a carport shade structure in the parking lot and will provide energy to the restaurant, the building incorporates a variety of recycled materials in its construction, such as insulation made from old jeans and recycled glass for countertops. Additionally, the building uses natural light from windows and tube lights, and has special fryers in the kitchen that use 40 percent less oil.

“It is fitting that one of Riverside’s greenest buildings helped us reach another record,” said the city’s Sustainability Officer Michael Bacich. The owners of the Riverside McDonalds, Candace and Tom Spiel, are seeking gold-level LEED certification for their building, and would be the first McDonalds west of the Mississippi to hold that designation should they receive it (and only the third McDonalds in the nation). RPU will be a part of their neighborhood celebration on Nov. 6th from 2-4PM. “We are thrilled to be part of the solar milestone in Riverside and we wanted solar for so long,” said Candace Spiel. “A big part of why we did this was to show the community what can be done in sustainability.”

In November 2001, Riverside’s first solar project a 151 kW carport structure at the city’s Utilities Operation Center went online. As of Monday, Riverside now has 161 solar projects online including: 132 residential systems, 17 commercial systems, and 12 utilities-funded systems producing more than 2.035 MW of clean, renewable energy.

Solar energy projects, like this one at a newly remodeled McDonalds in Riverside, now produce more than 2 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity throughout the city.

Solar projects in the city began to increase exponentially after Riverside Public Utilities began to offer incentives for residential customers to install solar energy systems in 2003. The Utility continues to offer residential incentives of $4 per AC watt installed, up to $16,000 or 75% of the project’s costs (whichever is less).

After expanding incentives to commercial customers in 2008, Riverside’s solar totals continued to increase. “So much so,” said Bacich, “that we had to start a reservation list for commercial solar funding.”

However, surpassing the 2MW local solar milestone is just part of the larger green goal the city has set for itself, Bacich said. “Our plan is that the City of Riverside will receive 33% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. These increasing local solar milestones will assist us in achieving, and surpassing this goal,” Bacich said.

For more information about the city’s solar projects and to see Riverside’s “Solar City Map,” visit www.RiversidePublicUtilities.com/solar


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