City of Oakland Generates Clean, Reliable Energy with SunPower

“Solar power is an important tool in Oakland’s evolution toward sustainable living. We have been encouraging developers to build solar power into projects for several years. It’s both fitting and timely that the City is coming forward with its own large scale solar projects; we practice what we preach.”

– Jerry Brown, Former Mayor, City of Oakland


Home to more than 404,000 residents, the city of Oakland, incorporated in 1852, has a long and rich history. In late 1998, the Oakland City Council adopted a Sustainable Community Development Initiative. This called for a series of action steps for the community, ensuring that sustainable practices are integral to economic development,“green” building, city operations and services. This initiative provides a framework for helping Oakland achieve its goal of being sustainable.


Mayor Jerry Brown had long been an advocate of implementing and promoting policies that help bring solar and clean energy into the mainstream. In his first turn as governor of California, Brown took the lead in embracing renewable energy policies that helped solidify California’s leadership in the clean energy arena.


Oakland recognizes the need to implement sustainable strategies that ensure both the long-term economic health and the environmental quality of its community. By leveraging one of California’s most abundant resources, sunshine, Oakland made the decision to deploy solar power and energy efficiency at city-owned properties to lower operating costs and promote sustainable practices. The 1,132 kilowatt Oakland solar project is the cornerstone of Mayor Brown’s vision of deploying solar power. The City installed a 372 kW system atop the Oakland Ice Center. The system generates 31% of the electricity used at the facility, which makes ice and operates two skating rinks in the heart of downtown Oakland. A 760 kW system atop the Municipal Service Center in the Coliseum Business Park generates 82% of the four buildings’ energy load. Covering 85,000 square feet, Oakland’s solar arrays will generate enough energy during the daytime to power over 1,00o homes.

The energy efficiency measures included a lighting upgrade that improved light levels and quality while consuming less than half the energy of the previous fixtures, resulting in lighting energy cost savings of 55%.

Photovoltaic System Description

The solar electric systems installed at the City of Oakland facilities are light weight photovoltaic rooftop systems. In addition, lighting upgrades were combined with the solar generation at the Oakland Ice Center installation to optimize energy savings and enhance lighting quality. Over 300 fixtures were upgraded, lamp lifetime was doubled,and the new lights improved the visual acuity for skaters and spectators.

The photovoltaic system features SunPower’s PowerGuard® Solar Roof Tiles are installed over an existing waterproof roof membrane.

In addition to generating electricity, the PowerGuard solar roof tile system provides thermal insulation and protects the roof membrane from harsh UV rays and thermal degradation. These benefits result in decreased heating and cooling energy costs and extended roof life.

Project Overview

Location:    Oakland, CA
Date Completed:    October 2005
System Peak Capacity:    372 kW
PV surface area:    25,000 square feet
Solar Electric Tiles:    1,960
Light Fixtures Upgraded:    300
Projects:    SunPower® PowerGuard®

Municipal Services Center
Location:    Oakland CA
Date Completed:    October 2005
System Peak Capacity:    760 kW
PV surface area:    60,000 square feet
Solar Electric Tiles:    4,420
Projects:    SunPower® PowerGuard®


Oakland’s investment in solar generation, coupled with energy efficiency measures,makes environmental and economic sense. This large-scale solar and energy efficiency project leverages unused assets, rooftops of city-owned buildings, to generate clean electricity for over 30 years. Energy conservation measures were integrated with the solar system to further lower the facilities. operations and energy costs, yielding an estimated $244,000 annually in combined energy reductions costs.

Oakland’s solar system spares the environment from thousands of tons of harmful emissions, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, which are major contributors to smog, acid rain and global warming. Over the lifetime of the system, the solar generated electricity will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by nearly 10,000 tons.These emissions reductions are equivalent to planting 2,800 acres of trees, removing almost 2,000 cars or not driving 25 million miles on the roadways of California.