San Luis Obispo County

The County of San Luis Obispo made a significant shift toward renewable energy by partnering with ForeFront Power on the development of three solar projects: two solar canopy systems (energized in May 2020) and a ground-mounted solar field (energized in February 2021), altogether representing over 1,700 kW of solar energy.

Over the next 20 years, the three solar projects are expected to offset nearly 74 million pounds of carbon dioxide and save the County an estimated $6 million. Beyond the projected energy savings, these projects have helped the County meet over half of its goal to procure 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. With the three solar projects now operational, the County is offsetting more than 12% of its electricity usage with clean energy, a major sustainability milestone for San Luis Obispo.

ForeFront Power developed, financed, owns, and operates the County’s solar projects. The largest project is a 1.2 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted solar field at the County Operations Center. The project includes 3,294 solar modules on 6 acres of land behind the County Honor Farm, which is parallel to Calif. State Highway 1. The project will yield significant electricity savings and cost stability for the eight departments benefitting from the project. All energy savings will be redirected toward providing critical services for the community.

The County Operations Center solar project generates enough electricity to avoid an additional 1,735 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. This is roughly equivalent to removing 375 gas-powered passenger vehicles from the road annually, or to the amount of carbon sequestered by 2,266 acres of nearby forest in one year.

In 2021, Environment + Energy Leader awarded the San Luis Obispo County Operations Center ground-mounted solar system Top Project of the Year, indicating that the program’s expert judges consider SunSmart Ames an example of excellence in the fields of renewable energy and environmental management. Read more on what the judges had to say in the July 2021 press release.

Prior to the County Operations Center solar project, San Luis Obispo and ForeFront Power completed two solar canopy projects at the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Dairy Creek Golf Course and the Department of Social Services on South Higuera Street. These two solar parking canopies totalling 552 kilowatts (kW) are designed to supply over 80% of site electricity needs and will generate over 850,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year, replacing an additional 625 metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to removing 135 passenger vehicles from the road each year.

The County will purchase the electricity generated by the solar systems at a competitive, predictable rate, thanks to an Energy Services Agreement (ESA) structure. This allows the County to purchase energy at a cheaper rate than its local utility without paying upfront costs for the system.

The County selected ForeFront Power as the developer for the three solar projects in 2017 through the School Project for Utility Rate Reduction’s (SPURR) Renewable Energy Aggregated Procurement Program (REAP), which allows any California public agency to obtain the best solar and energy storage pricing and terms from a competitive statewide solicitation.


CustomerSan Luis Obispo CountySegmentPublic SectorTypeParking Canopy and Solar FieldCapacity1,770 kWYear2021LocationSan Luis Obispo, California

SLO-Top-Project

Ground-mount Solar Field at the at the San Luis Obispo County Operations Center

Solar Canopy System at the San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services on South Higuera Street

Solar Canopy System at the San Luis Obispo Department of Parks and Recreation’s Dairy Creek Golf Course


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