CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Cathedral City is taking advantage of the sun.

This California city recently completed a solar canopy that is helping the city lower operating costs, improve air quality, and protect against rising energy costs.

Built using more than 1,600 photovoltaic solar panels, the canopy generates power while providing 170 covered parking spaces on the top floor of the Civic Center parking garage here. The canopy supports the city's drive toward using clean, renewable energy. City officials said this move would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 514 tons each year. This is the equivalent, officials said, of removing more than 103 automobiles from the road.

"Solar energy allows us to leverage the most abundant natural resource in Southern California and safeguards us against energy rate increases" said Paul Marchand, Cathedral City council member. "As a result, we're able to do more with the investment of our taxpayers, and make the city a better place to live and work."

The solar canopy is part of a $2.7 million energy savings performance contract between Cathedral City and Honeywell that is designed - and expected - to reduce the city's annual operating costs by 33 percent. In addition, the use of solar energy made the city eligible for the $1 million renewable energy rebate from the state of California. Administered through Southern California Edison, the rebate reduced the net cost of the project. According to city officials, the energy savings that result from the citywide upgrades and improvements will pay for the $1.7 million balance over the term of the 10-year contract. The city's financial risk is limited because Honeywell guarantees the results.

Along with installing the canopy, Honeywell made energy-efficient upgrades to lighting and building controls in the Civic Center, fire stations, and public works buildings.

"Officials at Cathedral City should be commended," said Joe Puishys, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. "They're proactively addressing energy costs with the help of green, environmentally friendly technology. As prices continue to rise, more local, state, and federal entities will follow their lead."

Publication date: 03/27/2006