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Hamilton Solar

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Photo of newly planted trees in front on the hamilton solar carport project

 

Status Update: The City of Novato will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 from 6:30-7:30pm at the Hamilton Community Center, 503 S Palm Drive in Novato to discuss the current status of the solar carport, review the City's remediation efforts and receive any additional input about this project prior to requesting the City Council to authorize a Notice of Completion for this project.

 

On March 2, 2017, five Sequoia Redwood trees were planted at the project site, along the street in front on the Hamilton Solar Carport.

 

 At the 6/21/16 City Council meeting, Council approved Option B--to complete the original project with paint and adding trees. In their motion to approve, Council included a commitment to reconvene the Council subcommittee in a year and meet with the residents to see if further project mitigations are needed.

In November 2015, the City began construction on a solar carport project located at Hangar Avenue and Maybeck Street in South Hamilton Park.  During construction, neighbors expressed concern regarding the project, including size, appearance, location, negative impact on neighborhood character, and lack of public notification prior to project construction. In December of 2015, the City put a hold on the project based on concerns, going forward, we are committed to continuing to improve our outreach and notification.

Survey Results

In response to neighbor concerns, the City asked for feedback from residents on proposed project alternatives for the Hamilton Solar Carport project. The feedback survey, open from May 5-22, 2016, will provide the City Council with input from Novato residents, as well as all other feedback received regarding this project in their decision-making process.

The survey results include a summary of all responses by location and raw data from the Hamilton Solar Carport Feedback Survey with the exception of all names, addresses and e-mails. As mentioned in the survey, this information will remain confidential and has been excluded from the results. The City Council will review the Hamilton Solar Carport project at their June 21, 2016 meeting.

Hamilton Solar Carport Feedback Survey Results >>

Project History & Background

In 2009, the City Council approved the City's first Climate Action Plan in accordance with AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act. In 2012, the City was invited to participate in the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Program, funded by the California Solar Initiative  and designed to help agencies reduce energy costs and create measurable environmental benefits. The SEED Program provided the City with technical and financial analyses for potential solar project sites which are included in the Solar Feasibility Study prepared in September 2013.

The Solar Feasibility Study identified three preferred city-owned parcels for a solar power project: (1) Hamilton Pool, (2) the Maintenance Yard, and (3) Lynwood Hill Park. The Hamilton Pool parcel had 15 unique proposed sites--7 in the upper parking lot and 8 in the lower parking lot, the Maintenance Yard had 13 unique proposed sites, and Lynwood Hill Park had one proposed site.

In October 2013, a Request for Proposals was issued for all three parcels in Novato as well as for other identified sites within 12 participating agencies in Marin and Sonoma County. Responders to the RFP did not bid on either the Maintenance Yard or the Lynwood Hill Park sites. The Hamilton Pool parcel was the only location within the City of Novato that was identified as a financially sound investment to generate renewable energy. There were 15 potential sites surrounding the Hamilton Pool parcel that were considered .

In October 2014, the City presented the findings of the Solar Feasibility Study and the proposed Hamilton Pool solar power project locations to the Hamilton Forum, the Hamilton Fields HOA and the Measure F Oversight Committee. Based on responses to the RFP and feedback received from meeting attendees, staff prepared a recommendation for the current solar carport site at the Pool's lower parking lot.

In November 2014, the project was approved for funding by the City Council and added to the City's list of Capital Improvement Projects for the 2014/2015 Fiscal Year. Some of the benefits of the project--at its current location--were listed as:

  • Annual savings of $18,000 in utility costs for the pool;
  • Project pays for itself in 10 to 12 years;
  • 70,000 kWh per year of renewable energy (90-95% of Pool's energy consumed); and,
  • Elimination of 1,274 metric tons of greenhouse gas over the life of the project--equivalent to taking 14.8 cars off the road for 25 years or planting 24.1 acres of trees.

Also in 2014, the City's strategic plan identified the installation of a 46.8 kW solar power system at Hamilton Pool to meet Council's environmental legacy goal.

In March 2015, the construction contract was awarded at a total cost of approximately $174,000. In order to avoid impacts to the Hamilton Pool and activities at Dunphy Field during the busy summer season, the City scheduled construction to begin in late fall of 2015.

In November 2015, construction started on the Hamilton Pool solar carport project--located in the parking lot on Hangar Avenue near Maybeck Street--at South Hamilton Park. In December, construction was stopped--prior to painting--due to neighbor concerns regarding the size, appearance, location, negative impact on neighborhood character, and lack of public notification prior to project construction.

Please see Hamilton Solar Frequently Asked Questions for additional information on neighbor concerns, site selection, project costs and more.

Some Hamilton neighbors have expressed concerns about the project, including a public noticing process that failed to adequately inform residents directly impacted by the project and failed to accurately identify the location of the project. Public notices that were sent to the Hamilton Forum and the Hamilton Fields HOA described a solar project at Hamilton Pool rather than at South Hamilton Park, giving the false impression that the project was being built at the upper parking lot or on the pool building.

Some Hamilton neighbors, including immediate neighbors, have also expressed concerns regarding the size and appearance of the solar carport. Although the design is typical for a solar carport structure, some neighbors have expressed concern that the structure is incompatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood and inconsistent with the predominant Hamilton architecture.

The City has held two community meetings since January 2016 to hear neighbor concerns and to present information regarding the site selection process, design enhancement options for the current project, and cost analysis for project alternatives.

Solar Carport Project Alternatives

The Solar Carport Project Alternatives matrix, below, is a list of options the Council will consider at a future public meeting, tentatively scheduled for June 2016. The Project Alternatives matrix summarizes a range of options including design enhancements to the original project and relocation or removal of the project. Please click option names below to view images of each option.

Option
No. 
Option
Name/Location 
Project Description  Total Cost to City to Complete  System
Size
(kW DC) 
Net Utility Savings 
Over 25 Years 
Simple Return on Investment 
(ROI)
Original Project
+ Paint
 
Complete original
project. Finish
painting. Current
structure has white
primer paint coat.
Finish color to be
green or brown. 
 $174,000 - const.
$10,000 - delay
$184,000 - total
46.8 kW  $469,554 255% 
Original Project,
Painted and
Add Trees
 
Option A above
plus plant 10  new
evergreen trees along
Hanger Avenue 
$174,000 - const.
$10,000 - delays
$12,000 - trees
$196,000 - total 
46.8 kW  $457,554 233% 
Original Project,
Painted, New
Trees, and
Flattened Roof  
Option B above plus
flatten roof to
minimum slope for
solar energy
production 
$174,000 - ex. const.
$15,000 - delays
$35,000 - roof & trees
$224,000 - total 
31.5 kW $209,778  94% 
Relocate Project to City's Maintenance Yard
(Feed-in-Tariff) 
Relocate current
structure, install new
foundation.
Feed-in-Tariff system. 
$150,000 - ex. const.
$10,000 - demo
$25,000 -delays
$160,000 - new structure
$345,000 - total 
46.8 kW (FIT)  ($8,848)  -3% 
Relocate solar carport to
Hamilton Pool
Upper Parking Lot

(Feasibility Study:
Sites #1-7) at
BOQ. Exact site TBD. 
Remove the current
structure. Construct
similar structure at
upper parking lot. 
Includes additional
electrical trenching. 
$150,000 - ex. const.
$10,000 - demolition
$25,000 - delays
$330,000 - new struct./elec.
$515,000 - total 
46.8 kW  $157,304 31% 
Remove Structure
and Abandon
Project 
Remove structure
($50k credit for panels) 
$100,000 - ex. const.
$10,000 - delay
$110,000 - total 
($110,000)  -100% 

Additional Notes:

  • Estimated energy costs without solar over 25 years

    $755,207

  • Estimated O&M costs over 25 years, including inverter replacement at year 15

    $32,903

  • Estimated energy costs with solar over 25 years 

    $50,000

  • Energy cost savings with solar less O&M over 25 years 

    $672,304

  • Estimated additional maintenance for design enhancements over 25 years 

    $18,750 

*Note: the Return on Investment was calculated by dividing the Net Utility Savings over 25 years by the Total Cost to City to Complete.

 

We Want to Hear from You!

Take Our Survey

This survey is now closed. Thank you for your participation.

In response to neighbor concerns regarding the Hamilton Solar Carport project, the City is asking for feedback from residents on their preferred project. The purpose of this feedback survey will be to provide City Council with a summary of opinions from Novato residents. The survey includes a required field to identify each respondent's address so that the Council can consider the immediate neighbor preferences, the project preferences of the greater Hamilton community, and the preferences of other City residents.

In addition to the survey results, Council will consider all other feedback in their decision-making process as to a final resolution which may include removal, relocation or retention at the same site with painting and landscaping to reduce the visual impact of the structure. The City Council will make a final determination on the project at a public meeting tentatively scheduled in June. Before taking this survey, please review the project options as described above in the Project Alternatives matrix. The survey will be available until midnight on Sunday, May 22. We will post the survey results prior to the June City Council meeting.

Take the Hamilton Solar Carport Feedback Survey >>

Attend a Q&A 

Staff will be available to answer questions in person on Wednesday, May 11 from 6pm-8pm at the Hamilton Community Center located at 503 Palm Drive. There will be no formal presentation of information at this meeting. Rather, staff will be available to answer questions and discuss the project and project alternatives with interested residents. Please note: a Hamilton Forum meeting is scheduled for the same night at 7pm in the Hamilton War Room. Supervisor Judy Arnold and representatives from SMART will be providing an update about the Hamilton SMART station and the new County Library at Hamilton. Residents are encouraged to attend both meetings.

Call or Email Us 

City staff is available to answer your questions about this project and the project alternatives, please contact us at pw@novato.org or call (415) 899-8246.

Meetings

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City Calendar >>

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