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San Rafael Airport Unveils Finished Solar Project

The solar project is equivalent to planting 29,000 new trees, or permanently removing 232 cars from the roadways, according to officials.

After four months of construction, San Rafael Airport officials unveiled their finished solar project, which they hope will serve as a catalyst for other projects in the county.

The nearly one megawatt photovoltaic (PV) project will begin supplying Marin Clean Energy customers with local, renewable energy this fall.  The project is the largest solar electric power installation in the county, providing enough energy to power 280 homes for an entire year and up to 1,200 customers during peak energy production.

“We hope will serve as a model and inspiration for many more such projects in the near future,” Airport Manager Robert Herbst said.

Synapse Electric, a solar and electrical company with a mission to encourage sustainable building practices and renewable energy, installed the solar power system beginning in July.

The project used nearly 5,000 solar panels mounted on 48 existing aircraft hangar rooftops, covering approximately two acres in total.

“I can’t tell you how good it felt to finally turn on this project at 12:11 yesterday afternoon, and see 700,000 kilowatts of clean energy flowing through into the grid, and that was on a cloudy day,” Herbst said.

Marin Clean Energy will purchase the electricity from the San Rafael Airport project under a 20-year power purchase agreement through its Feed-In Tariff program.

“Annually, this clean, renewable energy will offset 1,138 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to planting 29,000 new trees or permanently removing 232 cars from the roadways,” Herbst said.

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