Solar Panels Coming to Two More BART Stations

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Outside BART's Lafayette Station.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BART is expanding the use of solar power at its stations.

The BART Board of Directors voted Thursday to approve a contract with the San Mateo-based SolarCity Corp. to install, operate and maintain solar photovoltaic systems (solar panels) at the Lafayette and new Antioch eBART stations for the next 20 years.

Under the agreement, SolarCity will install solar panels on parking lot canopies at the two stations that not only are expected to generate enough energy to fully power the stations, but will also provide additional shade for commuters parking their cars.

"These are two of the warmer locations that we have in the BART system," BART spokesman Chris Filippi said. "So one advantage is that their cars are going to be a lot cooler because of this system."

BART's first foray into solar-powered stations came in 2007 at the Union City Station. After that, BART tried to get solar projects off the ground at the Lafayette and Orinda stations, but negotiations with the developer fell through.

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In December 2014, BART and SolarCity agreed to work together on solar power systems at up to five BART sites. Construction on the first system to come out of that collaboration was recently completed at the soon-to-open Warm Springs Station.

"As we get these newer stations, that's one thing that we're always looking at, is how can we be more energy-efficient? How can we make these systems even better before we get them to the public?" Filippi said.

The Lafayette system is expected to be installed by April 1, 2017 and operational by July 1, 2017. Filippi said the Antioch eBART station is on track to open in late 2017 or early 2018, but the solar panels should be ready to go by Oct. 1, 2017.