For immediate release: April 6, 2001
Media Contact: Percy Della -- (916) 654-4989

Energy Commission Transfers Ownership
of Solar Research Facility to City of Davis



Sacramento - The California Energy Commission has transferred its ownership of a solar energy research facility to the City of Davis.

By a vote of 4-0, the Commission Wednesday agreed to transfer the Photovoltaics for Utility Systems Applications (PVUSA) project to the city for a symbolic one dollar. PVUSA is a small power plant that uses photovoltaic panels to generate electricity from the sun.

The Commission's action effectively terminated its current lease on the property with the City of Davis. It also paved the way for city officials to finalize an agreement with Nuon Renewable Ventures, a Dutch company, to run and refurbish the solar facility to produce 800 kilowatts. Plans are for it to eventually expand production to 2.5 megawatts or more of renewable power. (A megawatt is enough energy to power 1,000 average California homes.) Under its agreement with Nuon, the city would receive a portion of the electricity generated at the site to power its municipal buildings.

The terms of the lease ended by the transfer and sale contract with the City of Davis required the Energy Commission to decommission the project if the Commission did not continue its operation of the site.

Last summer, the Commission issued solicitations either to sell or decommission PVUSA. It was at this time that the Commission received a request from Davis officials for an "option to buy" period. The Commission granted that option request until March 31, 2001.

Wednesday's agreement voted by the Commission at a regularly scheduled business meeting transfers the ownership of the facility to the City of Davis.

During the meeting, Commissioner Michal (spelling correct) Moore handed the keys to the 86-acre site to Davis Council member Sheryl Freeman. Freeman in turn handed the Commissioner a dollar bill.

"California is facing a serious energy challenge," said Dr. Moore. "The State is grateful to the City of Davis for finding a partner to operate PVUSA as a renewable energy source with a potential to produce much needed power for the California grid."

The solar facility was originally conceived and built by Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1986. It was then known as Photovoltaics for Utility Scale Applications. For one dollar, the Energy Commission took over ownership in 1997 when PG&E reduced its research budget in response to the restructuring of the electricity industry.

For 15 years, PVUSA served as a partnership between public and private utilities, government agencies and private companies involved in the photovoltaics (PV) industry. Until May 2000, the enterprise researched and demonstrated the use of photovoltaics for utility scale applications. It also helped utilities and the PV industry learn how utilities could use photovoltaics systems in their generation mix.

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