SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) is helping Hewlett-Packard's corporate headquarters go solar in a project expected to significantly reduce the technology giant's greenhouse gas emissions and help it achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals. SolarCity and HP, along with the City of Palo Alto, City of Palo Alto Utilities and SolarCity financing partner Direct Energy Business (DEB), worked together to enable the 1 megawatt system that is expected to offset more than 20 percent of HP's current power usage onsite. SolarCity will install, own and manage the solar power system, and HP will purchase the solar electricity generated through a contract with SolarCity. SolarCity's installation is expected to help HP reduce its utility power costs by approximately one million dollars over the next two decades.*
HP's new solar installation is a single element of a broad commitment to protecting the environment. HP has set an aggressive goal to reduce its scope one emissions from facilities and vehicles, and scope two emissions from outside power sources from which it purchases energy. The company hopes to reduce these emissions by 20 percent before 2020, as compared to its 2010 baseline. HP's solar system will alleviate more than carbon emissions, it will also help address California's fresh water shortage by saving over 130 million gallons of fresh water over the next two decades that would otherwise be consumed to produce electricity from fossil fuel or nuclear sources.
The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) serves HP's corporate headquarters. HP's system, the largest solar system in Palo Alto to date, increases the amount of local solar power installed in Palo Alto by about 21 percent and is enough to power 214 typical homes for a year. CPAU already purchases 100 percent carbon neutral electricity, however if HP's solar installation is compared to the carbon footprint of power from fossil fuels, the system offsets the equivalent of planting more than 1.2 million trees.**
Advances made by the City of Palo Alto Development Services Department allowed HP's project to be constructed and operational much more quickly compared to solar installation timelines in years past. The city has developed mechanisms for issuing same day solar permits, which took almost 70 days in 2011, as well as cut inspection timelines by more than 80 days since 2011. Just two years ago, the city issued only 40 permits for solar in the entire year. In 2013, thanks to streamlined permitting and inspection processes as well as increased interest, the city was able to increase permits issued by more than 800 percent.
SolarCity provided a package for HP that includes a rooftop solar system with more than 4,000 panels as well as insurance, monitoring, and maintenance throughout the 20 year agreement.
"HP is making a decision that is positive for the environment and for its bottom line, and should be an inspiration to others," said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. "The simple fact that solar power can be less expensive than power generated by fossil fuels gives us a fighting chance in the battles against air pollution, water pollution and climate change."
*Savings estimates based on current electricity usage at HP site as well as current and future utility power costs against SolarCity's locked in solar power rate for 20 year contract lifetime.
**Environmental benefit statistics based on 20 year contract lifetime and data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Environmental Protection Agency.