Paso Robles installing solar panels at airport, city parks to cut energy costs

Paso Robles will begin saving millions of dollars in energy costs this summer by installing solar panels at its airport and two city parks.

The Paso Robles Municipal Airport and Centennial and Sherwood parks will be home to a series of solar panels owned, maintained and installed by Onyx Renewable Partners.

The project is managed through a power purchase agreement, in which Onyx pays for the panels’ installation and upkeep and Paso Robles commits to buy energy from the company for 20 years.

“The city has not one dime out of pocket on this,” said Dick McKinley, the city’s director of public works.

Onyx is eligible for certain government tax credits and other benefits, and the city can purchase solar energy at a lower price than it would typically pay PG&E for electricity. McKinley said the city will save about $9 million in energy costs during the 20 years the agreement is in effect.

The airport’s panels will be installed on 24.6 acres of land on Satellite Drive and will produce about four megawatts of power, which will feed back into the city’s power grid, McKinley said. The panels at Sherwood and Centennial parks will be installed on covered-parking canopies and will be used to power park facilities.

Installation will begin at the parks, and all the locations should have their panels up and running by this summer, McKinley said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27