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Electric vehicle charging station coming downtown

BLD parking lot solar panels next?

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POSTED February 12, 2013 12:52 a.m.

By the time June rolls around you’ll be able to do something in downtown Manteca you can’t do in very many San Joaquin Valley cities - plug in your electric car at a public charging station.

The city is including several electric car charging stations as part of the $7.3 million transit station now under construction at Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street.

They will be powered in part by a $361,080 solar panel system being installed on a shade structure for 51 of the 100 parking spaces. The solar panels will supply a lion’s share of the electricity used at the 7,000-square-foot transit building that includes community rooms.

The electric vehicle charging stations have long been advocated by Councilman Vince Hernandez who believes when green projects pencil out financially that they should be pursued.

In the case of electric cars, they are one of the few alternatives that are valuable in fighting pending federal mandates requiring the valley to drastically reduce valley air pollution or face a moratorium on employment center growth.

Manteca is also exploring solar power at municipal facilities elsewhere.

It is possible a sea of solar panels could one day shade vehicles at the Big League Dreams parking lot while helping reduce Manteca’s $1.1 million annual electrical bill for the municipal wastewater treatment plant.

The city has budgeted $135,000 on consulting services for a design and to help secure possible federal and state grants to construct a solar panel system that could cover up to 20 acres and cost $3.9 million to install. The consultant would also explore how the city could use carbon tax credits to their advantage through how the project is financed in the private sector.

Staff has noted the lifespan of such a system is at least 15 years. The cost recovery of the investment expected to take six to seven years. That means if power prices do not change and use remains constant (both are anticipated to increase, though), the city could save up to $9 million in 15 years after recouping its original investment.

By placing some of the panels at the sports complex parking lot it would reduce the use of land surrounding the treatment plant that the city hopes to market for retail and business use to generate significant funds for the city as well as stimulate the economy.

The council has suggested that the solar panel system could also help provide power to the BLD sports complex to reduce power cost there as well.

A solar farm large enough ti help power the treatment plant could cover up to 20 acres. That would be about 40 percent the area of Woodard Park.

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