Oakland Tops Cities in Green Power Play
Oakland City Council made history yesterday by approving a plan to have all of the City of Oakland's municipal facilities -- City Hall, administration buildings and street and traffic lights -- powered by "green" electricity. The $4 million annual purchase, which is roughly 9 megawatts or the equivalent of 27,000 average homes, allows Oakland to supersede the City of Santa Monica, which purchases 5 megawatts of green electricity, as the world's largest municipal purchaser of clean, non-polluting renewable energy.
Decrying the lack of leadership when it comes to developing a cleaner power supply system, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown praised the unanimous City Council vote saying, "Local governments must show the way to energy independence by buying green power. When enough cities convert to sustainable energy the federal government will get the message and start reducing our national addiction to fossil fuel."
Oakland will purchase the green electricity from ABAG Power, the Energy Service Provider arm of the Association of Bay Area Governments. Last November, Oakland released a Request For Proposals to purchase green power; six firms responded. ABAG not only offered the best price, but also responded to city staff's preference for purchasing an increasing percentage of its power supply from "new" renewable sources.
"The City of Oakland has raised the standard for other local governments," said Kari Smith, director of the Clean Power Education Campaign for the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. "If all goes according to plan, Oakland will be receiving 20% of its electricity from new renewable energy generators by 2004," she said.
Under terms of the ABAG contract, Oakland would incur an estimated $70,000 expense in the first year of the contract. Half of this first year cost premium for green power covers the cost of installing new meters at the city's largest facilities. The cost premium is estimated to rise to $100,000 or 2.5% in the second year and $120,000 or 3% in the third year of the power purchase contract.
Oakland joins a growing number of California cities purchasing green power, including Santa Monica, Chula Vista, and Santa Barbara. Other cities including San Jose, Santa Cruz, Davis, and Petaluma are in the process of releasing RFPs for renewable electricity generation supply.