Skies may be gray this week, but Walnut Creek leaders hope to begin harnessing energy from the sun to help power city hall, and possibly other city buildings, in the near future.

The City Council voted Tuesday to accept a solar feasibility study that investigated nine city-owned sites in Walnut Creek for solar power. Six were determined viable for solar installation, including Tice Valley Gym, North Locust parking garage and the parking lots at Boundary Oak Golf Course and Heather Farm Community Center.

The study was paid for through a $677,700 federal Energy Efficiently and Conservation Block Grant — part of the 2009 economic stimulus.

One of the prime locations for solar panels is the roof at City Hall, according to the study. The council decided to put the that solar project out to bid, and to fold the other five projects into the city’s capital investment project list.

The $317,000 City Hall installation will be paid for by with money from the grant and another $70,000 grant the city was recently awarded, said Matt Huffaker, Walnut Creek’s public services business manager. No funding for the other projects has been identified.

City Hall, which also houses the police department, is one of the largest energy suckers of all of the Walnut Creek public buildings, using nearly 1.4 million kilowatt-hours a year. The solar panels would offset only about 7 percent of the building’s energy usage, the study found.

source: mercurynews