Bay Area Rapid Transit To Run On All Renewable Power By 2045

One of the largest transit networks in the world, BART in California, is adding over 100 megawatts of wind and solar energy sources over the next couple years. It's expected to fulfill 75 percent of the network's energy needs by 2025.


May 28 2019, Updated 6:33 p.m. ET

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has completed two purchase power agreements for renewable energy, including both wind and solar energy. Over 100 combined megawatts of capacity will be installed with new agreements with NextEra Energy Resources and Recurrent Energy. As of right now, both projects expect to be online at the beginning of 2021 and will be on a 20-year contract.

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One of BART’s agreements is a 45-megawatt solar energy project with Recurrent Energy, who is a subsidiary of Canadian Solar. This is the first PPA that the California public transit company has reached involving solar photovoltaic power. The solar farm, known as the Gaskett West 2 PV project, will be located in Kern County in Southern California. For perspective, it’s about 20 miles away from Bakersfield.

"Utility-scale solar power is a vital part of cost-effectively meeting our sustainability commitments,” Holly Gordon, BART’s sustainability director, told PV-Tech. “It is very important to us to work with an experienced development partner like Recurrent Energy who will help us achieve our goals."

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The other agreement was with NextEra Energy Resources, who is building a 61.7-megawatt wind farm project in the same area. NextEra has a subsidiary that owns and operates a 77-megawatt facility called the Sky River Wind Energy Center in Kern County. The wind farm has been operating since 1991.

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Both of these agreements were made after BART implemented the Wholesale Electricity Portfolio Policy last April. The policy calls for the transit network to receive at least 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. These agreements would put them well in advance of those goals as BART expects both agreements to meet 75 percent of their electricity needs by 2025. They expect to reach the 100 percent mark by 2045.

At the moment, BART only uses four percent of their energy from renewable sources. As that number rockets up, not only will the transit network be helping the environment, but they’ll have a significant amount of savings. Over the 20-year contract, an estimated $173.9 million will be saved in energy costs.

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“The price per kWh (kilowatt hour) that BART will pay when the projects begin operating in 2021 is lower than what BART currently pays for energy,” Gordon adds in a press release. “That low price will be locked in for 20 years, resulting in significant cost savings for BART over the long term.”

One of the world’s first metros to be run on renewable power is in Santiago, Chile. SunPower signed a PPA with the Metro of Santiago for the 100-megawatt El Pelicano Solar Project last year. It’s able to provide 42 percent of the transit’s energy needs with another 18 percent coming from a wind project.

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