United States

United States

Oakland asks for green power

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Another Californian city may soon be powering all of its facilities -- from the administrative buildings to street and traffic lights -- with wind power. Oakland, a city with a population of about 370,000 about 20 miles east of San Francisco, has solicited bids for about 9 MW of renewable energy for at least a year. The city is encouraging bidders to include proposals for distributed power sources such as PV panels or fuel cells to help encourage local residents and businesses to go green.

If Oakland does indeed go ahead and buy renewables, it will become the largest city anywhere that has taken the step. Currently, Santa Monica near Los Angeles, is the largest city that buys green. Oakland officials hope to present a final proposal to the city council on May 3, says Scott Wentworth, project manager at the city's Public Works Agency. If the city decides to buy 100% renewables, the contract would be worth an estimated $3.5 million yearly, he says.

Significantly, the mayor of Oakland is Jerry Brown, a former governor of California in the state's wind energy hey days in the early 1980s. It was during his administration that government incentives helped nurture the state's wind market.

Oakland could establish a lead for many local governments across the nation," says Joe Costello of the green power campaign at the Centre for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT). "In the past cities and counties were captives of the electricity monopolies. Now local governments have the choice -- and the responsibility -- to develop their own energy policies that are responsible to the environment and can boost local economic development," he says.

Six bids have been received by Oakland. GreenMountain.com, which specifically buys new wind power from a plant owed by SeaWest WindPower near Palm Springs as well as from a photovoltaic plant in Mendocino County, is one of the bidders. Also interested in supplying the 9 MW is cleen n'green, based in San Jose in California, which buys its green power from the green spot market at the Automated Power Exchange (APX).

Another firm interested is PowerSource, a new company in Los Angeles that also buys at the APX. PowerSource Corp, a publicly traded company, offers various incentives for signing up including a magazine subscription and discounts on holidays in popular resort areas in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. PowerSource is also applying to be registered as a supplier in Arizona and Nevada.

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