The City of PittsBurg is turning into Solar Energy to save the rising electricity costs.

Under the proposed deal, the city would lease a 16-acre parcel of land north of the railroad tracks near Seasons Way and Rain Drop Circle, where banks of solar panels would be set up. The land — near where the old Sacramento Northern rail line burrowed under the other two rail lines — is now owned by WesPac Midstream, the firm that bought the former PG&E power plant west of downtown Pittsburg.

A WesPac-affiliated company, NRG Renew, would operate the solar energy panels.

“We would lease the property, should the (cost) numbers make sense,” said Pittsburg Assistant City Manager Garrett Evans. “This is a first step, and if things don’t make sense, we won’t move forward.”

Under a 2009 state law, local governments that own or control renewable energy-producing facilities can export energy to the power grid and receive credit on the city’s power bill for that energy.

Other entities, including the Pittsburg, Mt. Diablo and Martinez school districts, have installed such solar panels. The Pittsburg district’s 13,000 solar panels produce two-thirds of its power needs; the Mt. Diablo district installed 28,000 panels across 47 school campuses starting in 2009, and the power they generate is projected to save the district $220 million over 30 years.

It’s too early to talk about possible money savings in Pittsburg, Evans said, but he said the hope is the city can save money under an arrangement in which the city leases the land on which the solar panels would be built. Monday’s action will include a 25-year lease agreement for the land; under the state law, the city must own or “control” the land on which the panels are built.

“We don’t have the 10 or 15 acres in which we can put solar panels and do it ourselves,” Evans said.

Contact Sam Richards at 925-943-8241 FREE. Follow him atTwitter.com/samrichardsWC.

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