Anaheim's Energy Field was a project that went to the heart of what a municipal utility is all about: serving our community, our neighborhoods and our customers – not to mention the environment.
Energy Field began as three acres of under-utilized, vacant land, adjacent to residential neighborhoods and a transmission line belonging to another utility. Today, it is a unique facility that has become a model for showcasing solar-powered generation of electricity, demonstrating California-friendly, water-saving technologies and landscaping, and testing state-of-the-art energy storage technology in partnership with iCeL Systems.
All this in a place where parents can bring their kids to exercise in the sun, make new friends, share a lunch in the shade, and build family and neighborhood relationships.
Energy Field evolved out of a combined planning and engineering effort by Anaheim Public Utilities and the City of Anaheim's Community Services Department. Anaheim Public Utilities staff secured a $350,000 grant to help fund the project, the maximum amount available from the California Parks Department’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.
A closer look at Energy Field reveals just how much it has to offer the surrounding community in a relatively small space. In the northeast corner are a group of six solar arrays, which also provide cover for the picnic tables and toddler play area – shown here shading the dedication ceremonies. Integrated into the top of these shelters are solar electric panels that quietly and cleanly convert sunlight into electricity for the grid.
In a triangular formation to the northwest is a solar array, made up of rows and rows of ground mounted solar panels. Combined with the solar panels on the shelters, Energy Field's solar panels deliver more than 114,000 kilowatt-hours a year to the grid – enough quiet, clean, renewable solar generated electricity to power 20 Anaheim homes.
Typically, electricity generated by a solar system is used as it is generated. The iCeL technology currently being tested at Energy Field, however, allows electricity to go to the grid during the hours of generation but also stores energy for release to the grid during hours of peak electric demand or at night.
Don't think we've forgotten about water conservation! Energy Field uses drought-tolerant landscaping and artificial turf instead of grass for the open areas. The artificial turf alone saves approximately 2.9 million gallons of water a year, enough to supply 18 typical Anaheim homes.
Finally, an educational element – in the form of a bilingual interpretive center - ties everything together and helps Energy Field visitors understand the benefits of the solar energy systems and water conservation measures used in the development of Energy Field.
Anaheim Public Utilities hopes to increase awareness and to encourage Anaheim customers to conserve water and energy at home, to help customers be more comfortable with the use of renewable energy sources in the future, and to demonstrate the beauty and practicality of California’s native plants.