The World’s Greenest Jail?
The 4,000 inmates at Santa Rita Jail in the San Francisco Bay Area have an unusual home. The Alameda County facility boasts a microgrid, a self-contained power system consisting of a 1.2-megawatt rooftop solar array, five wind turbines generating 11.2 kilowatts, a one-megawatt fuel cell, and two megawatts worth of batteries to store all that energy.
That makes Santa Rita perhaps the world’s greenest modern jail, according to a discussion at a recent conference. It, and other large-scale infrastructure projects like it, are another sign that institutions are beginning to pull the plug on a century-old energy business model in which a monopoly utility sells electricity at a regulated rate for a regulated profit to captive customers. “We’re saving a $100,000 a year while generating our own renewable energy,” Matt Muniz, Alameda County’s energy program manager, said of the facility at a recent conference in San Francisco.
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