AT&T is bulking up its latest corporate sustainability plan.
A 296-kilowatt solar power system has officially been activated in San Diego, and it’s just the first of six company sites around California scheduled for solar installation. The goal is 2 megawatts of clean solar electricity. The Trade Street site in San Diego will produce an estimated 420,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in its first year of operation, creating over 7.7 million kWh in its first 20 years.
All six systems will be installed through a power purchase agreement with SunEdison, which will install, monitor and maintain the solar arrays, with AT&T buying the electricity produced at a fixed rate over the contract term. The other five installations are scheduled for completion by the end of the second fiscal quarter 2011. Dunnigan, Commerce, Mojave, Santa Ana and Sacramento house the other five locations. Upon activation, all six systems will produce up to 3.2 million kWh annually, saving the company and environment roughly 62 million pounds of CO2 emissions over 20 years.
After years of minimal renewable energy investment, in 2009 AT&T released a new Citizenship and Sustainability Report keying in on renewable resources as a future component of company operations, no doubt facilitated by the thousands of dollars the company expects to save on its power bills.
Two large solar power plants are already installed at AT&T’s campus in Secaucus, New Jersey, the second being an 841-kW system installed in 2009 that produces 1 million kWh of solar electricity annually.
The power purchase agreement (PPA) entered with SunEdison is representative of a growing trend in the solar industry toward leasing solar panels. From single-family homeowners to multinational corporations, leasing provides a way to go solar while paying little or no up-front cost. For homeowners, SunRun Home and SolarCity, both based in California but operating in a number of U.S. states, are leaders in solar leases and PPAs.