Project expected to save millions of dollars and be built at no cost to taxpayers

SAN LUIS OBISPO ― The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will construct a new solar generation project at California Men’s Colony (CMC) in November as part of its ongoing effort to reduce its carbon footprint. CDCR has installed solar arrays and wind turbines at 17 institutions and expects to complete the CMC solar project next summer.

“Renewable power provides a clean energy source, reduces the burden CDCR institutions impose on the power grid, saves taxpayers money and demonstrates our commitment to meeting the state’s energy goals,” said Kathleen Allison, CDCR Secretary.

The 2-megawatt (MW) ground mount solar array system to be installed on the grounds of CMC outside the secure perimeter is expected to generate nearly four million-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, which is equivalent to providing electricity to approximately 460 homes per year.

The CMC solar project is estimated to provide approximately 25 percent of the institution’s annual electricity requirements, reduce the load on the local power grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,700 metric tons annually.


The system will be constructed by a third-party developer, Forefront Power, LLC., and their contractor, Sunworks, Inc. The project will be built, operated and maintained at the developer’s own expense in exchange for CDCR purchasing the electrical power at discounted rates. This will allow CDCR to save approximately $4 million in utility costs through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Also, the contractor submitted a safety plan that limits COVID-19 exposure and their employees attended health and safety training that included information about proper physical distancing protocols and the use of personal protective equipment and face masks. All contractor staff are required to submit to COVID-19 symptom screening, including temperature checks, before entering the job site located outside CMC’s secure perimeter.

Through third-party Solar Power Purchase Agreements, CDCR has completed renewable solar generation projects at 17 institutions. These renewable energy projects generate approximately 55 MW of power, roughly equivalent to the electricity required to power 13,629 homes annually.

CDCR continually seeks out additional opportunities to decrease its carbon footprint and assess technological advancements in renewable energy. To learn more about CDCR sustainability efforts, visit