Port of Oakland Ramps Up Solar Energy Use

A solar power array. Photo: Port of Oakland.

The Port of Oakland’s stake in a newly expanded solar array at Antelope Valley Solar Ranch came online in late January, and is now delivering renewable energy to the port.

The Oakland seaport owns and operates its own utility, which then sells electricity to tenants including those at Oakland International Airport and the seaport. The port has agreed to purchase about 11,000-megawatt hours of electricity annually from this solar farm in the city of Lancaster, located in northern Los Angeles County.

In March 2017, the port approved an $8.9 million deal to buy power from one of the largest solar farms in California. The port’s commitment is equivalent to using about 50 acres of the 1,300-acre solar array.

“This is a project that has been six years in the making,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan commented. “Using renewable power sources to meet our energy needs is another important step towards zero-emissions and a greener port.”

Investing in energy from the sun on a large scale significantly decreases the cost of this renewable power. The port has said that 30% of its power comes from solar.

Oakland anticipates that the purchase of this renewable energy over the next 20 years will save money, because solar power is cheaper than energy from fossil fuels that the port would need if not for this investment.

The energy generated annually represents around 7% of the port utility’s overall power needs and helps ensure the port can surpass the California renewable portfolio standards requirements under Senate Bill 100, which accelerate the state’s current renewable portfolio standard program to 50% by 2025 and 60% by 2030.

In addition, SB 100 sets a 100% clean, zero carbon, and renewable energy policy for California’s electricity system by 2045.

“Energy resources are challenging to find right now and energy prices are hitting highs we have not seen since 2001,” Port of Oakland Manager of Utility Administration Jared Carpenter said. “Therefore, this solar array coming online at this time is perfect for the Port Utility energy portfolio.”