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Leading the charge

Posted: February 2nd, 2018 | News, Top Story | No Comments

By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor

Petco Park installs massive solar power project, besting the MLB

USA Today may rate the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park as the “best park in baseball” and its state-of-the-art HD video board may be the largest screen in the National League, but now the 14-year-old baseball park can boast something even more altruistic; it is in the process of installing the largest solar panel system in Major League Baseball (MLB).

In fact, once complete, the 336,520-watt solar power system fastened to its upper deck roof and canopy will be larger than all the MLB’s seven other solar projects, combined.

In a pose reminiscent of Charles Ebbets’ famous 1932 photo of construction workers seated on a beam high above New York City, a portion of Sullivan Solar Power’s install team takes a break atop Petco Park. (Courtesy Sullivan Solar Power)

Installed by Miramar-based company Sullivan Solar Power, Padres management state the project will save the organization more than $4,117,000 in utility bills over the next 25 years.

It also falls nicely in line with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s commitment to the city being 100 percent clean energy driven by 2035. Faulconer, who released his Climate Action Plan in 2015, also joined two other city mayors last year to pursue a Sierra Club initiative designed to encourage other mayors around the country to adopt similar policies.

“This solar project reaffirms San Diego as the leader in solar and the city’s commitment to 100 percent clean energy,” Faulconer said at the Jan. 17 press conference announcing the solar project. “We are leading by example for the country to see that solar power is the future, today. We are determined to be a leader in creating a clean energy future.”

Sullivan Solar Power install team is in the middle of a three-month install of the largest solar power system on a baseball stadium within the MLB. Photos show the team’s progression on the rooftop of Petco Park, while installing the infrastructure. (Courtesy Sullivan Solar Power)

“San Diego’s citywide commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and increase our use of renewable energy is most visible right here in Downtown,” said San Diego City Councilmember Chris Ward at the press conference. “Through better transit, green buildings and now the largest solar project in Major League Baseball, the Padres are truly helping San Diego lead by example.”

Sullivan Solar Power started very humbly in a San Diego garage in 2004 — the same year Petco Park opened — and has since installed over 6,200 solar power systems of all sizes and shapes, both commercial and residential; has expanded to locations in Orange County and Riverside; has grown to over $50 million in revenues; and is approaching 200 employees.

“As a native San Diegan, I could not be prouder that the Padres are joining the solar energy revolution and showing the world that we no longer need dirty fossil fuels to power our needs,” offered Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “I founded Sullivan Solar Power 14 years ago to create a case study in San Diego, proving we have the technology, financing and skill to fundamentally change the way we generate electricity — this project highlights that we are leading the solar energy revolution.”

The Padres started planning this project a year ago and received a number of bids from other companies vying for the project, Sullivan said, but his company’s research and preparation made it through the acquisition process.

“This project is a grand slam,” he said. “It’s exciting to be a part of.”

With the award announced in the spring of 2017, Sullivan said he had a signed contract in September of 2017 and construction began in December. Initial panels were laid down the same week of the press conference in January 2018.

The complete installation will include the infrastructure to support 716 individual 470-watt solar modules manufactured by Sullivan partner Sunpower; it will generate 330 kilowatts of solar power and 12 million kilowatt hours over 25 years.

The project is part of a multi-year revitalization effort for the park, which also included the video board, and a 2015 initiative to replace existing high-maintenance light fixtures with 400 LED modules, making Petco Park 100-percent LED.

The project is scheduled to be complete before March 29, opening day for the San Diego Padres 2018 baseball season. (Courtesy Sullivan Solar Power)

“With Petco Park serving as the premier sports and entertainment venue in San Diego, we take pride in continuing to make it the most energy-efficient and sustainable facility possible,” said Padres Chief Operating Officer Erik Greupner in a press release. “We are pleased to partner with Sullivan Solar Power on this project, which represents a further step by the Padres to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of Petco Park.”

With dozens of local Sullivan Solar Power employees focused on the project across all departments of the company as well as their two partners, Sunpower and SMA America, also involved, the installation is projected to be complete in advance of the Padres 2018 season’s opening day, which this year falls on March 29, against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“Installing solar on the top of Petco Park is no easy feat, but we are proving that it can be done,” Sullivan said. “The Padres going solar is getting national attention. We are setting the example for the country to see that no matter how difficult the scope may be, we are determined to be a leader in creating a clean energy future.”

Sullivan is passionate about eliminating the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. San Diego Downtown News profiled him in 2016 [“The passions of a solar phenom,” Vol. 17, Issue 7, or online at bit.ly/2BMuQmN], so it is no surprise that his contract with the Padres includes a provision where Sullivan’s team is able to host educational workshops throughout the Padres’ 2018 season, sharing with baseball fans in attendance the importance of going solar.

“At Sullivan Solar Power, our vision is to fundamentally change the way we generate electricity,” Sullivan added. “We are proud to help the Padres reduce their carbon footprint, lessening the need to import dirty fossil fuels that pollute our air and cause conflict across the world.”

To learn more about this solar project, visit sullivansolarpower.com/padres.

— Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at morgan@sdcnn.com.

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