The solar array on the roof of the Mill Valley Community Center. Courtesy image.

The City of Mill Valley is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of its Solar Carport at the Community Center, part of the City’s larger effort to reduce its energy costs and to continue to develop sustainability initiatives.

​The event is set for Tuesday, April 18 at 1pm in the Community Center parking lot. Mayor Jessica Sloan and Mill Valley City Council will be on hand for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

The solar carport was the second component of the project, as solar panels were installed on the Community Center roof in summer 2016. The solar project was approved by the City Council after multiple public hearings in August 2014, as was a similar project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Corporation Yard. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity,” City Manager Jim McCann told the Council at the time. “This addresses the Council’s interest in sustainability and will allow us to reduce our greenhouse gas production while also reducing costs in our electrical consumption.” 

The Council’s approval came four years after the City installed a solar energy array behind the Public Safety Building. The solar project at the Community Center is projected to have an estimated energy cost savings of $1.5 million over a period of 25 years, while the solar project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant is projected to save another $3.3 million.

The project came via a program called Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED), a public-private partnership between San Rafael-based nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) and Optony, Inc., a Silicon Valley solar consulting firm that specializes in setting up municipal solar programs and projects. 


The solar array carport on the roof of the Mill Valley Community Center. Courtesy image.

The SEED partnership involves a host of cities and agencies in the North Bay, including the City of San Rafael, which is coordinating the projects, as well as Marinwood Community Services District, Southern Marin Fire Protection District, City of Novato and Marin Healthcare District, among others.

One of the crucial components of the SEED project’s success in Mill Valley is the concept of net metering – the idea that the City’s solar arrays would produce more electricity than its facilities regularly need, thereby generating excess energy that can be sold back to the utility grid and generate revenue. 

The solar array behind the Public Safety Building supplies enough energy to run both the Fire and Police Department sides of the building, and returns between $3,000 and $6,000 annually in revenue for excess energy sold to Marin Clean Energy. 

The City has established a goal of reducing City-related emissions by 20 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. In 2010, approximately 21 percent of City-related emissions were related to its buildings and facilities. 


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