Powering Richmond with clean energy

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Powering Richmond with clean energy
Photo courtesy of MCE

By Kathy Chouteau

Some Richmond community members may be unaware that there’s a giant solar farm – one of the Bay Area’s largest — generating enough power for 3,900 homes right in their own backyard. The pollution-free power comes from MCE Solar One’s 10.5 MW solar system project, which produces 22,000 MWh of electricity annually on land provided by Chevron Richmond.

So what does it take to create a pollution-free power project packed with a multitude of local benefits? As it turns out, the Richmond community. Back when the Chevron Modernization Project was under discussion, the project idea arose from the local community as a way to integrate renewable energy and solar facilities into Chevron’s project. One beneficial outcome of this savvy community move saw MCE team up with RichmondBUILD to train and hire its graduates—locals who are skilled in the construction trades—to build the project.

Photo courtesy of MCE

Following the community input, the City of Richmond, Chevron Richmond and MCE began discussing the development of a solar farm on a remediated brownfield site on Chevron land at 835 Castro St. MCE is a not-for-profit renewable energy producer and provider serving over 540,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents and businesses in Contra Costa, Napa, Marin and Solano counties. In 2014, the Richmond City Council approved the Environmental and Community Investment Agreement (ECIA) as part of the Chevron Modernization Project, which included a $1 per year land lease for MCE to develop a solar farm and a minimum 50 percent local hire of Richmond residents to construct it.

Fast forward to 2016, when MCE hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the new project site. The following year, MCE Solar One opened for commercial operation, quickly becoming the Bay Area’s largest public–private solar partnership, according to MCE. A map of MCE’s Bay Area service area reveals that Richmond’s solar field is by far its largest in terms of the number of homes it can power, encompassing 20 percent of MCE’s total 49 MW service area of 49 MW.

What do all these solar farm facts mean to the Richmond community? In addition to powering thousands of households with clean energy, putting 341 people to work, and repurposing a 60-acre remediated brownfield site, Solar One eliminates 3,234 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking more than 680 fossil–fuel cars off of the road annually.

For more info on MCE and this homegrown Richmond project benefiting the community, click here.

Photo courtesy of MCE