Oakland, California, plans to retire a jet-fuel power plant and replace the power with residential solar-plus-storage installations on low-income housing in West Oakland and Alameda County by solar provider Sunrun. East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) board of directors approved the contract July 17, 2019.
Sunrun’s project with EBCE represents a leading example in the United States of home solar and battery systems directly contributing to the replacement of a retiring fossil fuel-fired power plant. Through this project, Sunrun will bundle solar energy stored in home battery systems and send it back to the electricity grid, forming what’s known as a “virtual power plant” to help power the area.
A Sunrun analysis shows that at today’s costs, solar and batteries on homes and businesses could provide 9 GW of capacity across California. This is the equivalent of 50 large natural gas power plants or four-times the size of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant slated to retire in 2025.
“Sunrun is excited to partner with East Bay Community Energy to help pave the way toward a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system,” said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun co-founder and CEO. “Our company is built on the foundation that solar energy should be accessible to everyone, particularly those communities most impacted by pollution and which today lack access to clean energy. Shifting from an aging, dirty fossil fuel power plant to energy provided by home solar and batteries will ensure that West Oakland residents are at the center of the clean energy transition.”
Sunrun will develop several megawatts of solar and more than 2 MWh of batteries on over 500 low-income housing units by 2022. This will deliver 500 kW of grid reliability capacity to EBCE during a 10-year contracted period.
“EBCE is excited to work with Sunrun to increase our local resiliency, expand access to solar for low-income residents, and accelerate the transition to clean energy in Alameda County. This project sets a precedent for how distributed energy resources, such as solar and storage, can offer financial and environmental benefits within our community,” said Nick Chaset, EBCE’s CEO.
In 2018, Sunrun established a goal to develop a minimum of 100 MW of solar on affordable multi-family housing, where 80% of tenants fall below 60% of the area median income, during the next decade in California. Sunrun’s project with EBCE will support these goals while also further expanding access to clean solar energy and battery storage for low-income housing tenants in Oakland and the surrounding area.
Situated in Oakland’s Jack London Square, the roughly 40-year old Oakland Power Plant burns jet fuel for electricity at times of peak demand, contributing to poor air quality in some of the most polluted communities in the Bay Area.
“California has critical goals for addressing climate change and these clean energy contracts are accelerating our progress towards reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions on a shorter time frame. Our communities are demanding meaningful change and EBCE is making that happen,” said EBCE Board Chair and Oakland City Council member Dan Kalb.
News item from Sunrun