Light streams through a BART train at MacArthur Station in Oakland on March 2, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

BART board approves wind, solar purchase for 90 percent renewable energy

BART will soon be powered almost entirely by renewable energy.

The transportation system will be 90 percent powered by wind, solar and other renewables by 2021, after the BART Board of Directors on Thursday approved two 20-year renewable energy power purchase agreements.

Though BART’s growing electricity needs will seen that percentage lessen to 75 percent renewables by 2025, according to the agency, BART board directors were enthusiastic.

“This establishes BART as the country’s most climate-forward transportation agency,” said BART board director Nick Josefowitz said in a statement. “Not only will BART soon be powered by almost 100 percent renewable electricity, but we’re doing it cheaper than by buying fossil fuels.”

BART uses 400,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually, the agency wrote in a statement, which is slightly more than the annual electricity used by the city of Alameda.

The two 20-year power purchase agreements for renewable energy are with NextEra Energy from a new wind farm in Kern County, and with Recurrent Energy from a solar project, also in Kern County.

The contract is estimated to cost $251 million over 20 years, according to BART, but is estimated to generate $173 million in savings over BART’s current energy portfolio.

In 2015 California lawmakers passed Senate Bill 502, authored by mayoral candidate and then-state Sen. Mark Leno, to allow BART to directly procure renewable energy.

“Without a doubt I’m thrilled to see the implementation of the bill,” Leno told the San Francisco Examiner. “I expect it will be a model for other transit agencies throughout California and across the country.”

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