Solar America City/San Jose: Do you know the way…

OK. Just because I grew up knowing about San Jose thanks to a Dionne Warwick song in the 1970’s doesn’t mean that I’m oblivious about San Jose today. I know San Jose is the epicenter of the Silicon Valley. Home to entrepreneurs and technogurus, innovators, VC’s and angels, the largest city in Northern California wears the ‘Capital of Silicon Valley’ moniker as a badge of honor, but isn’t stopping there. Now, the Capital of the Silicon Valley wants to be known as the Capital of the Solar Valley.

Mary Tucker, Energy Program Manager at the City’s Environmental Services Department, has been with the City for two decades where she’s had her hands in dozens of local, state and national energy and environmental programs and projects. Besides sitting on boards, councils, task forces and committees, Mary’s written a collection of essays celebrating the connection between our built and natural environments for the publication, Sustainable Architecture. When she’s not fussing over her brilliant and adorable grandchildren, she still loves to tout the 2.6kW PV system atop the roof of her 1909 craftsman bungalow home, now a net zero home.

Last year, the City of San Jose became a Solar America City. Not surprisingly, the marriage of the IT and solar communities seems to be a natural fit. Mary Tucker visits with us about the City of San Jose’s solar achievements.

IREC: Hi, Mary. Just one year ago this month, the City of San Jose became a Solar America City. Happy birthday. San Jose’s been in the news lately, not for the usual technology invention, but for the latest solar accomplishments. Last month, an article in PR Newswire discussed the 5.5 MW solar project for San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD). Just a couple of weeks ago, a story in BizJournals talked about the City meeting its solar power needs by developing large solar farms. In fact, the City issued its first solar RFP on Feb. 27 for 1 or 2 MW. Things have been a bit busy in the past year?

MT: Yes, they have. With the adoption (2007) by our Council of the Green Vision and its 10 goals, we are moving so much faster to achieve those goals. As was stated in a March 9, 2009 report to the Council on the Green Vision, we “…recognize the opportunity to seize a global market opportunity and ensure San Jose’s position as a model 21st Century city. San Jose’s Green Vision is a bold roadmap that is intended to model how innovation and environmental responsibility can strengthen economic opportunity and can, in fact, be vital catalysts for spurring prosperity. Thus, success of the Green Vision will really be measured by a triple bottom line: strengthen the regional economy, create a more sustainable community, and enhance the quality of life for residents.” Having the leadership and support from our Mayor and Council is definitely a key factor in all of the work that we’re doing.

We’ve also received information from PG&E that there are now 11MW of interconnections within San Jose through the California Solar Initiative (CSI).

And the San Jose Unified School District is not the only installation in the past year. Here’s the others: San Jose Tech Museum (185kW), Macy’s (307 kW), eBay (650 kW), Star Quality Concrete facility (410 kW), and one of our Target Stores (380 kW). A recent report from the Northern California Solar Energy Association ranks San Jos


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