Newsom inaugurates new solar panels at SFO

Mayor Gavin Newsom today moved one step closer to reaching his goal of making San Francisco the “greenest” city in the nation.

San Francisco International Airport Terminal 3 now boasts more than 2,800 solar panels on its rooftop, Newsom announced today while unveiling the new energy-efficient equipment.

The solar panels were implemented as part of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and SFO's joint solar energy project to help reduce energy use, according to the mayor's office.

“This major solar energy project further establishes San Francisco as America's solar energy leader and symbolizes the commitment of the city — and San Francisco International Airport — to leading the way on renewable energy generation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” Newsom said in a statement.

The new energy system will provide enough electricity for all of the daytime lighting needs within Terminal 3 with excess power to spare, according to the mayor's office.

The solar panels will save enough energy to power about 300 homes each year. In addition, utilizing the solar panels as opposed to typical energy generating methods that require fossil fuels will save approximately 7,200 tons of carbon dioxide over a period of 30 years.

“(The panels) are terrific,” SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said. “We're very excited to have them.”

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission funded the $5.5 million solar energy project, although a $1.2 million rebate is expected under a California Public Utilities Commission program, SFPUC spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

Winnicker said the panels will be fully functional in about four weeks.

The rooftop solar panels at SFO's Terminal 3 is the public utilities commission's largest project to date, according to Winnicker. SFO's solar panels were also designed after careful consideration of a more resourceful way to position the panels than in the past.

The panels are slightly tilted, which make them catch the sun more efficiently and are easier to clean, Winnicker said.

Since Newsom took office, Winnicker said city officials have quadrupled the amount of solar power in San Francisco.

“Today was significant,” Winnicker added. “But it's still just the beginning of what's potentially out there.”

SFO has also been named winner of this year's Environmental Management Award by the Airports Council International-North America for the airport's Environmental Sustainability Program, according to the mayor's office.

SFO's first solar system was installed upon the Engineering Building in 2001, according to the mayor's office.

— Bay City News

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