On the heels of Earth Day, MCE unveiled a new, one megawatt, ground-mounted solar project at Cooley Quarry in unincorporated Novato. The solar farm is MCE’s fourth local Feed-In Tariff (FIT) project, which will provide power for customers who choose MCE’s new Local Sol energy service.
“This is the second MCE solar project that will come online in Novato, and the third is under construction,” said Denise Athas, Mayor of Novato and MCE Board Member. “I’m delighted that these projects are supporting the local, green collar jobs that MCE promised, while helping our community reach its climate goals. Novato has collectively reduced about 23,000 metric tons of electricity emissions since enrolling with MCE.”
Cooley Quarry Solar, which is co-owned by Frank Gobar of Danlin Solar and Roy Phillips of REP Energy, is being built by Danlin Solar on a site that was originally mined for serpentine rock, which was found to contain asbestos, used at the time for the production of concrete, asphalt and road-base aggregate. The quarry operations closed in 1990, leaving a brownfield that became an ideal location for the development of renewable energy. The site location, which did not require grading, combined with smart solar technology, made this an especially good use of previously unusable land.
Cooley Quarry solar uses multiple types of solar technologies: Fixed mount arrays with rails manufactured by Cooper B-line and string inverters by ABB, dual axis trackers made by Texas-based Sun Action Trackers, with real time sensing technology to maximize production, and single axis trackers manufactured by NEXTracker. NEXTracker’s self-powered system is wireless, smart and connected to the cloud, maximizing energy yield as the rows ‘learn’ via data science and predictive analytics, to angle at the optimum point for maximum efficiency. Using these technologies maximizes the power density and efficiency of the location, optimizing the ground cover ratio. Solar modules for the project were engineered by Hanwha Q CELLS, whose USA division built the first utility-scale solar farm on a Superfund site.
Danlin Solar, a local Marin company, employs long-term Bay Area solar installers and electricians, and used labor from the union apprenticeship program, and local subcontractors such as Novato-based Sunstall Inc., who installed the single axis trackers. Combined, the project supported 17 jobs. Additionally, Danlin Solar has recycled 11.5 tons of materials from the site so far, producing only five cubic yards of waste, some of which will be sorted further and recycled at the local landfill facility.
One of MCE’s founding goals is to provide 100% renewable energy service from sources as close to customers as possible. MCE is gratified to be launching its brand-new Local Sol service, where 100% of the power will be supplied from Novato’s Cooley Quarry solar farm. Local Sol is limited to 300 customers on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the program is already at approximately 50% capacity from customers waiting for service to start in May.
“Danlin Solar and REP Energy are proud to supply clean, sustainable energy for local homes within MCE’s service area,” said Frank Gobar, President of Danlin Solar. “MCE offers one of the most competitively priced Feed-In Tariff programs in California, which has allowed us to build local projects that contribute to a fossil-free energy future.”
“Beyond MCE’s local efforts, the 2,800 in-state jobs provided by our 24 new California renewable energy projects have built the structures to help the state reach its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said MCE’s CEO, Dawn Weisz. “Our communities have been leaders in the demand for cleaner energy and we expect to see even more new renewable projects come online to electrify all California homes and businesses with pollution-free energy. Great things happen when communities are empowered to create their own choices.”
In total, MCE has 19 megawatts of new, local, renewable energy projects online, under construction, or soon to be under construction.