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San Francisco Giants announce efforts
to green ballpark

Solar panel cost to be passed on to PG&E customers

As many as 590 solar panels are to be installed at AT&T Park as part of an effort by the San Francisco Giants to reduce consumption of energy generated by fossil fuels.
However, the cost of installing the solar panels will be past on to PG&E ratepayers.
Photos by Stephen Dorian Miner

By Stephen Dorian Miner

March 22, 2007

The San Francisco Giants, in a partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), unveiled a plan yesterday to install approximately 590 solar panels at AT&T Park.

However, according to PG&E spokesman Keely Wachs, the precise cost and savings to be generated by the project are not yet known.

Wachs said the stadium does not actually receive service from PG&E and will simply serve as the host to the solar panels, which will pump energy back into San Francisco's city grid.

Though the cost of the project might seem monumental, at $10 for each of the 120,000 watts to be generated by the 590 solar panels, Wachs said the project was undertaken at the behest of California ratepayers who demanded clean energy options.

PG&E reported the solar panels will be at three locations throughout the stadium. Panels will be located on a canopy over the Willie Mays pedestrian ramp, on the roof of the Giants Building, and on the Port Walk located along McCovey Cove.

Standing under two demo models of the panels, the team's Executive Vice President Larry Baer and Principal Partner Peter McGowan were joined by PG&E CEO Tom King and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to announce the project.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, Executive Vice President Larry Baer,
and Principal Partner Peter McGowan

Baer touted the team's commitment to energy efficiency, while reminding everyone that the kind of 'green' statement the team is making will be on display for "100 million people" when San Francisco hosts Major League Baseball's All-Star game in July.

McGowan followed, saying, "By installing solar panels along the Port Walk, we will not only generate green power for San Francisco, but we will also showcase solar power in one of the most visible locations of the waterfront.

"We hope to send a message to our fans, television viewers and the greater community about the importance of using energy wisely and efficiently."

Mayor Newsom, never one to shy away from making moves to curb Global Warming, indicated this was just another step in the process of "reducing our dependence on fossils fuels."

The home of the Giants will be the first Major League Ballpark to install a solar system.

Besides the solar panels, the Giants have recently installed a new scoreboard, which, according to team executives, uses "78 percent less power than the ballpark's original scoreboard."

Despite praise from environmentalists, the project has caused controversy. Just prior to the event it was revealed that the cost - originally supposed to be borne by PG&E shareholders - will actually go to their customers.

California ratepayers will be asked to pay "a fraction of a cent" on their monthly bill to cover the $1.5 million estimated cost to install the panels, according to PG&E CEO Tom King.

"Since this is energy we're preparing is for the overall customer base of all of California…it goes into the overall cost of providing that energy," King said.

PG&E CEO Tom King (center)

King and PG&E will have to go before the Public Utilities Commission to get approval to kick the costs back to California ratepayers. Despite the hurdle, the project seems like a win-win situation for the Giants and San Francisco according to Newsom.

The mayor applauded the team and PG&E "for their commitment to solar energy…and for their long-term focus on helping to make San Francisco the greenest city in the nation."

Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said the project is expected to be completed in mid June.

Elizabeth Daley of Bay City News contributed to this report.




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