From Nuclear to Solar Powerby Adam Christy
KXTV, September 20, 2016
The two cooling towers of the decommissioned Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant continue to stand tall across the eastern Sacramento County skyline.
A symbol of the past, the two towers got some new neighbors yesterday, that look to energize the future, and power some of Sacramento's most iconic buildings.
With the flip of a switch, the Rancho Seco Solar plant is officially on line.
"This project will serve the two most iconic buildings in Sacramento, the new Golden One Center and the state Capitol, and it's being done here out at Rancho Seco, one of the most iconic sites in Sacramento, so you've got a great juxtaposition of the old and the new here," SMUD CEO and GM Arlen Orchard said.
The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission decommissioned Rancho Seco in 2009. The process to remove and contain all the radiation from the site took 20 years at a cost of $500 million. In all that time, thankfully no one was injured and that the infrastructure to produce and deliver energy remained intact.
"We have all the infrastructure in place to distribute the energy down into Sacramento, so it really made sense from a space, sun, and infrastructure level," Orchard said.
Over 50 percent of the energy SMUD will create this year is carbon free. The sun shining down on this facility here will generate 11 megawatts, enough electricity to power every state building in Sacramento.
"Having a state capitol that is fully powered by clean renewable energy really fits with Governor Brown's vision," Brian Ferguson, California general services, said.
"The Rancho Seco project created more than 200 jobs at peak construction and will provide power not just to the Golden One Center but to all of California's department of General Services," Michael Argentine, Lead Project Developer, said.
The solar site around Rancho Seco is currently 62 acres with over 100,000 solar cells. SMUD hopes to double the site in the next couple years as it hopes to reach its energy production goal of 75 percent carbon free sources within the next decade.
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