Sonoma County solar-powered facility may be first in state

One of Sonoma County's main government facilities in the Valley of the Moon soon will harness the sun for all of its electricity, making it possibly one of the first municipal centers of its kind in the state.

County contractors two weeks ago activated 2,400new solar panels at the Los Guilicos center along Highway 12, which includes juvenile hall, courtrooms, Valley of the Moon Children's Home and other county services and buildings.

The 708-kilowatt system covers three acres off Pythian Road and joins a 750-kilowatt array of 3,500solar panels installed in 2011 on the center's roofs and behind buildings against the foothills.

Together, the two systems are expected to cover the center's electricity needs, or about 1.5 megawatts, enough to power about 350 homes.

County officials say the center could be one of the first "zero net energy" municipal campuses in California, meaning it generates all of its electricity with clean renewable power.

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