Oak Tree Village, San Jose, Calif., is Akeena Solar’s latest commercial solar electric project with JSM Enterprises, a development company. The 21.8-kilowatt system will provide a new 175-unit apartment complex with enough electricity to power its underground parking, common lighting area and run other electrical loads, such as the elevator.

“One challenge we face in the Bay Area is our rapidly increasing demand for electricity,” said Mark Ruebsamen, vice president of JSM Enterprises. “Five years ago, all of our apartment complexes were built with surface parking. Today, due to high cost of land, we build most of our parking below the apartments. This means that our firm owns and maintains acres of underground parking that must be illuminated 24 hours a day.”

This results in astronomical electric bills. To solve this problem, the firm turned to renewable energy.

“We found that it makes financial sense, so we hired Akeena to design and install solar arrays on three of our largest apartment complexes in San Jose,” said Ruebsamen.

The project resulted in JSM generating 25 to 30 percent of the electricity that is used at those properties. Based on current commercial electric rates and an assumed 5 percent average annual rate increases, the system will produce $303,013 in energy cost savings over its 30-year life.

“Farsighted businesses such as JSM Enterprises realize that they can be part of the energy solution by installing solar electric and also reap big financial benefits at the same time,” said Barry Cinnamon, Akeena Solar president.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 21.8-kilowatt, direct current system at Oak Tree Village will generate clean electricity that will reduce atmospheric emissions, including nearly 300 tons of C02, the equivalent of 7.3 acres of trees.    EC