BART goes solar, saving a projected $3.4 million over 20 years

BART goes solar, saving a projected $3.4 million over 20 years

By late December, everything from the lights to the ticket machines to the fare gates at one East Bay BART station will run on solar power during daylight hours. But that’s not all.  A contract and energy conservation agreement that the BART Board of Directors voted on today also will provide some customers at Orinda BART Station with shaded parking -- and will save riders and taxpayers a projected $3.4 million over 20 years.

“Our customers are going to love this deal because it allows BART to profit from soaking up the sun while our riders benefit from the shade and the savings” BART Board President Gail Murray said.

The Board unanimously gave the general manager authority to award an up to $3.8 million contract to Beltsville, Md.-based SunEdison, LLC, which will, in part, install a canopy made out of solar panels in one of Orinda Station’s parking lots.  During the daylight hours, those solar panels will supply the station with nearly all its electrical needs.  The trains, however, run off a separate power source and will not use the solar electricity.

Hundreds of BART workers also will benefit from the deal.  The contract also installs solar panels on the roofs of two other BART facilities -- the Richmond and Hayward maintenance shops.  That means much of the electricity that workers need to maintain many of the 669 train cars in BART’s fleet will come from the sun.

BART projects that over the next 20 years it will be able to shave approximately $3.4 million off its energy costs. That’s because this energy conservation agreement also identifies significant ways to reduce energy costs at the maintenance shops. “Commuters already know BART is the green way to go to get around the Bay Area,” BART Board Vice President Tom Blalock said. “But behind the scenes we need to continue to make our business practices more environmentally friendly.”

BART Director Bob Franklin, who chairs the Board’s first Sustainability/Green Committee, said, “By both installing the solar panels and implementing the energy conservation plan, BART will save millions. This investment in renewable and efficient energy highlights to the public the sustainable nature of taking public transportation.”