SANTA PAULA, Calif. — On Oct. 3, Ventura County Todd Road Jail in Santa Paula celebrated the commissioning of a 1 MW solar energy system at its facility. The project is estimated to double the solar power capacity for the County of Ventura and save $180,000 in electricity costs that would offset 40 percent of the jail’s electricity needs each year.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based REC Solar, a company that designs and installs solar systems, designed and constructed the ground mount system within a 180-day construction timeline, during which the jail remained operational. Campus electricity was disrupted only briefly during the final interconnection. REC Solar installed the system within space constraints, working around the existing parking lot and the footprint of a future building.
“Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, primarily by implementing energy conservation measures and also by installing solar PV systems. The Todd Road Jail solar PV system goes a long way towards helping us reach our greenhouse gas reduction target,” said Paul R. Young, Acting Chief Deputy Director with the County of Ventura, in a statement.
The Todd Road Jail solar energy system will generate 1,908 MWh annually and save CO2 emissions equivalent to keeping 496 tons of waste from landfills. It is the second solar project that REC Solar installed for the County of Ventura. In January, REC Solar also dedicated a 1.1 MW solar energy system at the Moorpark Wastewater Treatment Plant, which produces 2,235 MWh annually and meets 75 percent of the water reclamation facility’s energy needs.
“REC Solar’s deep expertise installing solar power systems for government agencies was key to our successful installation at Todd Road Jail,” said Ryan Work, business development manager for REC Solar, in a statement. “Over our 15-year history, we’ve completed 81 solar systems for public agencies. These projects come with a unique set of challenges, including keeping facilities open during construction, meeting extended project lifespan requirements and developing the project at an affordable price point approved by taxpayers. Both our projects with Ventura County met and exceeded these challenges.”
Todd Road Jail also incorporates sustainability in its vocational training programs that benefit both the facility and the inmates. For instance, it operates a 100-acre Sunkist lemon orchard, and 15 percent of the revenue goes to inmate services.