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Hearst Castle prepares to break ground on solar panel project this week

Posted at 7:02 PM, Apr 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-22 22:02:39-04

Visitors take a trip back in time when touring iconic Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Now, the historic castle is stepping into the future in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

Starting Tuesday, an 85,000 square foot solar panel canopy will be installed in the visitor center parking lot. State Parks officials first announced the project in June 2017. 

The project is one of several in the 2008 State Parks "Cool Parks" initiative, which seeks to address climate change through mitigation, adaptation and education.

"The construction of the solar canopy coupled with last year’s installation of 14 electric vehicle charging stations and the recent purchase of three electric vehicles (EV’s) puts San Luis Obispo Coast District in a good position to meet Governor Brown’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said District Superintendent Dan Falat in a press release.

Officials say it will reduce the park’s electricity rates from 20 cents per kilowatt hour to 11 cents in the summer. The solar panel will connect to the PG&E power grid. 

The solar panels are expected to generate over one million hours of electricity per year, providing enough energy to meet all the power needs for the visitor center, maintenance yard, district offices and park facilities at the San Simeon Cove and Hearst Beach.

here are no upfront costs as California State Parks funding the equipment purchase through a 25-year power purchase and lease agreement with contractor Ecoplexus, Inc.

Sections of the parking lot are expected to be closed throughout the construction which is scheduled to be complete by June 30, 2018.

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