There is an odd building near Jack London Square in Oakland. On the street side, the building looks somewhat classical, with tall arches reaching up to a crenellated portico. But viewed from the other side, from the Inner Harbor waterfront, you see it’s real mission — black smokestacks betray the home of three power generators at the 165 megawatt Dynegy Oakland Power Plant.
While the plant dates back to 1888, the current generators were installed in 1978 and run on jet fuel, hardly the cleanest source of energy. With Jack London Square evolving from an industrial zone to a mix of retail, office, residential, and industrial uses, the local air quality impacts of the plant have been a lingering problem.
Now relief is on the way. East Bay Community Energy is partnering with PG&E on the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative (OCEI), to replace the plant with a mix of clean distributed energy technologies.
The Oakland Power Plant dates back to 1888, and was owned by PG&E from 1905 to 1998.
Simply shutting down the plant is not possible, since it provides essential reliability to the Oakland grid, getting “reliability must run” or RMR payments from CAISO, the state’s grid operator. Another option, stringing new transmission lines across Oakland, was a non-starter.
Instead, the plan is to deploy battery storage, demand response, and energy efficiency improvements in the neighborhood, along with upgrades to the local distribution system. In all, EBCE will have 20 to 45 MW of new clean energy resources, in line with the Local Development Business Plan.
CAISO approved the plan in March, and EBCE and PG&E are currently reviewing bids from developers. EBCE will buy local energy and capacity products while PG&E purchases reliability products from the same resources.
The project will then need to be approved by state and federal regulators, and is expected to come online by the middle of 2022.
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