Businesses Bank On Solar Power

With so many large organizations putting solar panels on their roofs, you would think that it's because solar power is cheaper than the grid. But a closer look shows that it's not that simple.

The California Center for Sustainable Energy organized a corporate solar tour on Monday, as part of the Solar Power International conference taking place here this week.

The tour made clear that there are a lot of good reasons to go solar, namely hedging against fossil fuels prices or good community relations. But it's not just about lowering the electricity bill. In fact, in some cases, customers pay nearly as much as they did before they went through all the trouble of installing the panels.

Consider the city of San Diego which is in the process of procuring as much as five megawatts of solar electricity in municipal sites over the next five years.

The first to go online is the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant, a one-megawatt installation that produces about 20 percent of the power the plant uses. The second planned array, also for a water treatment facility, could be finalized in weeks.

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