San Jose’s WestGate Church gets power from above

This post was originally published in 2014. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

Silicon Valley’s WestGate Church looks to the heavens for power since installing a 153 kW rooftop solar system. The church’s electricity bill will be cut by nearly 95 percent with the commissioning of its new array, which is expected to generate more than 250,000 kWh of energy annually.

Vista Solar of Santa Clara, California, designed and installed the system for the 2,500-member church using 444 high-efficiency SunPower modules with six Sunny Tripower inverters (four 24000TL-US and two 15000TL-US models). The system was installed and commissioned with no money down and a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) expected to save the church $16,000 each year of operation.

Efficiency

When designing the system, Vista Solar’s team knew efficiency and reliability were top priorities to make the PPA financially positive for all involved. To produce the power needed for the church, engineers turned to two leading solar manufacturers to do just that: SunPower and SMA.

The SunPower SPR-X21-345 modules boast an impressive 21.5 percent efficiency and, paired with the Sunny Tripower’s 98 percent efficiency, make for a system that will produce an exceptional amount of energy.

The right reasons

Savings from the solar system will directly benefit the community around the church, which plans to use the money to further increase its generosity with local benefit organizations. Financially, installing solar was an easy decision for Executive Pastor Dan Perkins, who said “Solar was a smart move for us financially, a no-brainer.”

Choosing a PPA also enabled WestGate Church to guarantee maximum system production with a 15-year monitoring package for the twin-array system. The Vista Solar team will remedy any drops in production to ensure the system produces maximum power well beyond its 15-year contract.

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