Orange County Will Save Millions By Generating On-Site Heat and Electricity

Date: 2 Dec 2005 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Supervisors in Orange County, California, are planning to install a cogeneration system to meet the energy needs of some of their government offices at the Santa Ana Civic Center. Total system costs are estimated at $34 million for a little over 10 MW and would save the county from $4 million to $5 million a year.

The county would buy two 5.2-megawatt natural gas-fired generators to produce electricity. The equipment would also use the energy produced to fire boilers to heat and cool the government buildings.

Also included is a proposal to use about $900,000 of the project’s funding to buy photovoltaic panels for the roofs of county parking structures to produce solar power.

Sperry Financial, Inc. and Orange County staff have conducted a thorough analysis of the options for financing the project and concluded that the best option for the County would be to take advantage of the historically low cost taxÂ-exempt financing rates and finance the project through lease revenue bonds using an asset transfer and master lease financing structure with a strong investment grade rating. The analysis included a review of opportunities for internal funding directly through the general fund or indirectly through the County investment pool.

A long term goal identified in the County’s Strategic Energy Plan is the investigation and implementation of alternative energy sources. Accordingly, the County has been researching options for providing reliable electrical power at a reasonable cost through non-utility sources for several County locations. One of the more viable and cost effective options studied is a proposal to use the established technology of cogeneration to generate electricity at the Civic Center to replace electricity purchased from SCE. Another is to install a system of photovoltaic cells at the County Data Center to generate electricity from solar power.

At the November 22, 2005, board meeting, the Supervisors directed the Orange County Public Financing Advisory Committee to review the proposed financial structure for the cogeneration project and provide a recommendation. The issue will come before the Board again on February 7, 2006.


Avatar photo
Follow John Farrell:
John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.