Solar energy collection sites completed at five City locations

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. and SAN FRANCISCO – Nov. 1, 2022 – The City of Bakersfield, in partnership with ForeFront Power, a leading developer and asset manager of commercial and industrial-scale solar energy and storage projects, has finished Phase 1 of a planned Citywide Solar Electricity Generating Project that will save the City and taxpayers millions of dollars in energy costs.

Now completed, Phase 1 of the project is a 2 megawatt-DC (MW DC) solar energy portfolio located at five sites: the parking lot south of City Hall South, the Bakersfield Police Department Headquarters parking lot, the parking lot at The Park at River Walk, the parking lot at the City Corporation Yard, and at Mesa Marin Sports Complex. With an annual electrical output of 3.4 million kilowatt-hours, Phase 1 alone is expected to save the City and taxpayers nearly $9 million in electricity costs over a 20-year period.

Aerial view of solar canopies at Bakersfield City Police Department and City Hall South

Under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the City of Bakersfield, ForeFront Power developed, owns, and maintains the City’s solar energy portfolio. ForeFront Power charges the City a fixed, below-market rate for electricity, which is locked in for the 20-year duration of the agreement. ForeFront Power will continue to operate and maintain the system at no cost to the City.

The PPA enabled Bakersfield to develop its portfolio at no upfront cost, while achieving a fixed, below-market rate for electricity as well as budget certainty by avoiding future utility rate increases.

City staff is always looking for innovative and forward-thinking opportunities that will keep Bakersfield ahead of the curve,” City Manager Christian Clegg said. “By investing in this project, we have made Bakersfield more energy efficient, setting ourselves up for a future of fiscal responsibility.

“We applaud the City of Bakersfield for the sustainability leadership demonstrated by installing 2 MW DC of solar energy to power city facilities,” said ForeFront Power CEO Michael Smith. “ForeFront Power takes care of every aspect of solar energy solutions for our public sector partners like Bakersfield. We want to give local government agencies an alternative to expensive, unpredictable energy expenditures with guaranteed performance and low costs from solar.”

Aerial view of solar canopy at The Park at River Walk in Bakersfield City

The City’s energy demands are high and demands grow each year. With rates increasing as well, City staff has explored energy efficiency projects in recent years to reduce its reliance on costly energy from PG&E. This project will greatly reduce the cost of energy for Bakersfield, freeing up valuable General Fund dollars for other City Council priorities.

The transition to solar will also help improve the City’s air quality as the clean production of energy is equal to taking more than 500 gas-powered vehicles off the road each year.

This phase of the project also put locals to work with 80% of the labor used to construct the infrastructure coming from contractors based in Bakersfield and the County of Kern.