By the end of 2020, the Port of Oakland's electrical utility will be offering nearly double the amount of solar power it currently offers to its 130-plus tenants.
BY BILL PICTURE
By the end of 2020, the Port of Oakland’s electrical utility will be offering nearly double the amount of solar power it currently offers to its 130-plus tenants. Late last month, port commissioners approved a deal to buy 11,000 megawatts annually over a 20-year period from a solar farm in Lancaster, Calif., for $8.9 million.
The port said it will pay $39 per megawatt hour for the solar-generated electricity. According to the port, the solar farm expansion should go online in December 2020. Under Senate Bill 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, which was signed into law by Governor Brown in October of that year, at least 50 percent of the electricity sold to retail customers by public utilities must be from renewable sources by 2030.
In 2015, port tenants purchased roughly 55,000 megawatt hours from the port, which operates its own electrical utility. About 32.5 percent of that electricity was from a mix of renewable sources. Biomass and waste-to-energy made up the bulk of that at 30.6 percent. Solar energy accounted for only 1.7 percent, and small hydroelectric was .2 percent.
The new deal will help the port meet the new state requirement, and then some. “And the remainder of the electricity we provide will come from a combination of large hydroelectric generation from federal hydropower projects, and power from the wholesale market,” said port spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur.
Sandifur said port commissioners are keeping a close eye on the availability and cost effectiveness of renewable energy, with the eventual goal of going fully renewable. They’re even exploring the possibility of using port property to generate renewable energy. “The Port of Oakland continues to engage in discussions with renewable energy developers and to look for opportunities to create cost-effective renewable energy within the port boundary,” she said.
The Port of Oakland covers the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport and 20 miles of waterfront. The port’s energy utility provides energy to airport and seaport customers.