A large-scale solar array floating across four acres of Windsor’s largest recycled water pond has earned the town the League of California Cities 2021 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence in Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation.
The 1.8-megawatt photovoltaic floating solar energy project went online in October 2020, and has since generated more than 2 million kilowatt hours (or $210,000 worth) of renewable energy, in line with the Town of Windsor’s climate-action goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The array is estimated to save Windsor $175,000 per year.
“Our floating solar array has reduced our reliance on higher-pollution energy sources by about 350 metric tons a year,” Public Works Director Shannon Cotulla said. “This is a significant step in achieving our climate action plan emission-reduction goals.”
The 5,000 high-output panels float atop a rack system in the pond, and are designed to generate 90% of the electricity necessary to power Windsor’s wastewater treatment facility, public works administration building and a pump station delivering reclaimed water to the Geysers’ geothermal field in the Mayacamas Mountains.
The Town of Windsor was selected from 125 submissions from among the League’s 482 constituent California cities for the award, which promotes innovative solutions and is named after the League’s first female president.
“We appreciate the recognition for our floating solar project,” said Windsor Mayor Sam Salmon. “It not only helps us save money, but also helps us to operate in a cleaner, greener and more efficient way.”
The array was constructed in collaboration with Petaluma-based floating solar company Ciel et Terre, which entered into a 25-year lease and power purchase agreement with the Town. The project was also carried out in partnership with Sonoma County Water Agency, PG&E, the North Coast Regional Water Control Board and the Marin Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District.