City of Fresno Breaks Ground on 27 MWDC Solar Energy and Battery Storage Portfolio

Oct. 24, 2023
The projects will save the city $100 million in taxpayer dollars by 2045 and help DPU avoid 37,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually

The City of Fresno Department of Public Utilities (DPU) began construction on its portfolio of on-site solar energy and battery storage projects.

The DPU’s 27 MWDC behind-the-meter portfolio will be built at three energy-intensive sites:

  1. The Fresno-Clovis Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility
  2. The Northeast Surface Water Treatment Facility
  3. The Southeast Surface Water Treatment Facility

Each site will feature ground-mounted solar energy arrays and single-axis trackers with a combined output of 47 million kWh of electricity annually. Once completed, the Fresno-Clovis project, with 17 MWDC of solar and 2.3 MWDC of battery storage, will be one of the largest behind-the-meter solar energy and battery storage projects in California.

The DPU projects represent a core part of the City of Fresno’s comprehensive plan to lower energy costs, bolster environmental resiliency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In total, the projects will save the city $100 million in taxpayer dollars by 2045 and help DPU avoid 37,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. This is equivalent to removing 7,000 gas-powered vehicles from the roads or planting 550,000 trees.

"Today is a great day for the City of Fresno," said Mayor Jerry Dyer. "DPU is harnessing cutting-edge renewable energy and battery storage technology to reduce its energy burden, and to safeguard our air and environment for future generations."

The portfolio is being developed in partnership with ForeFront Power, a developer of solar energy and battery storage projects in the U.S. and Mexico, and constructed by local union labor from the IBEW Local 100.

Under a Power Purchase Agreement, ForeFront Power will also develop, own, and maintain the solar and storage portfolio. With the PPA, ForeFront Power will charge the city a fixed, below-market rate for electricity, which is locked in for 20 years, and they will continue to operate and maintain the system at no cost to the city.

The PPA allowed the city to develop its portfolio with no upfront costs and without using bond funding.

"We're pleased to have helped the City of Fresno with this momentous expansion of its renewable energy assets," said Rachel McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ForeFront Power. "It makes sense that with over 300 days of sunshine per year, the City is harnessing one of its most abundant resources to protect pocketbooks, the air, and the climate all at once."

In addition to the DPU portfolio, the City of Fresno is also partnering with ForeFront Power to develop new behind-the-meter renewable energy assets at other city-owned sites. This includes combined solar energy and battery storage projects at the Airport’s new terminal building, the Airport Parking Garage, the Fresno Area Express Bus Yard & Employee Lot, the Fresno Animal Center, Fire Station 18, and the Southeast Police Substation. 

About the Author

Breanna Sandridge, Senior Editor

Breanna Sandridge is senior editor for EnergyTech and Microgrid Knowledge, both part of the energy group at Endeavor Business Media.

Prior to that, Breanna was managing editor for Machinery Lubrication and Reliable Plant magazines, both part of Noria Corp. She has two years experience covering the industrial sector.

She also is a 2021 graduate of Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) with a Bachelor's in English.