A one-megawatt solar energy system was switched on Monday at one San Diego County jail location.
The panels are mounted on dozens of steel canopies that spread across the parking lot and shade visitors’ cars at the East Mesa Detention Facility in Otay Mesa.
The panels are expected to produce 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of energy in the first year alone and save the county $1.3 million over the next 20 years.
SunEdison bought, built and will operate and maintain the solar power plant as part of a power purchase agreement. In return, San Diego County will buy the energy produced at long-term rates. The county expects those rates to be below market value for 20 years.
“It’s a win for everyone, all the way around,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox.
The location has three jails and houses approximately 2100 prisoners.
It's the second solar system built on county property this year.
In February, officials turned on a 359 kilowatt SDG&E-owned solar system at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa.