City officials in Willits , CA are cutting energy costs and improving the municipality’s carbon footprint without spending a cent. All they provided was the use of city-owned land to a company that develops solar energy installations. “It’s a hackneyed expression, but it really is a win-win,” says City Manager Paul Cayler.

Cayler credits the new solar energy system at the Willits Water Treatment Plant to an innovative business model that shifts the cost of renewable energy projects to a third-party developer. Perpetual Energy Systems, a Harrison, NY-based developer of photovoltaic solar energy systems, arranged the financing of a system at no cost to the city. Stellar Energy Solutions, a commercial solar integrator in California, developed and installed it.

Mayor Holly Madrigal called the project an economic and environmental success. “Even as a community of 5,000 residents, we feel it is important to do the most we can to reduce or eliminate our impact on the environment,” she said. The project has the capacity to generate about 530,000 kilowatt-hours AC (kWh) per year–100% of the water plant’s power needs.

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