By Sacramento Business Journal

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District will not pursue its ⿿solar highways⿝ project, the utility has announced.

In the works since 2008, the demonstration project would have installed two large solar projects along Highway 50 in Sacramento County.

Inspired by a trailblazing project in Oregon, SMUD was looking to start with a 1.5-megawatt project, with solar systems near Mather Field Road and SMUDâ¿¿s headquarters near 59th Street and Stockton Boulevard.

SMUD had been working with the California Department of Transportation to determine how to make it safe, maximize its energy potential and make it aesthetically pleasing. SMUD had hoped to help Caltrans create a blueprint so the project could be recreated in other parts of the state.

In the end, only one bid for the construction of the project was received ⿿ and it was ⿿extremely high⿝ compared to other recently received bids for similarly sized SMUD solar projects.

⿿We believe that the lack of competition and the highly priced bid reflects the complex nature of locating this type of project on highway right-of-ways,⿝ said Jim Shetler, the utility⿿s assistant general manager of energy supply.

According to SMUD, the project faced challenges from the start. It was subjected to length federal state and environmental reviews and prolonged negotiations with Caltrans for lease agreements.

⿿We believe the effort that was undertaken provides input for consideration of how to proceed with these types of projects in the future,⿝ Shetler said in the news release. ⿿We hope that this experience will allow the state of California to determine how to better align its goals for the development of renewable energy with processes that support implementation.⿝

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals
Copyright 2010