Providing Energy for City’s Future

Providing Energy for City’s Future

 

Alameda has championed innovation since 1887, when the city formed its own public electric utility to power 13 streetlights. Our community was a pioneer in the new world of electricity — we developed a 90-kW generating station only five years after the first commercial energy station was established by Thomas Edison in 1882. As we plan for the future of energy in Alameda today, we can look back to Alameda Municipal Power’s (AMP) beginnings for inspiration.

With recent advances in solar energy, battery storage and “smart” electrical devices, there is no doubt our city’s energy needs have evolved greatly over the past 129 years. Still, one thing remains the same from 1887 to today: Alameda seizes opportunities to embrace technology for the benefit of the community. Today, the planned redevelopment of Site A at Alameda Point, the former Naval Air Station, presents a key opportunity for our community-owned utility to create the electrical system that we need for the future.

So, how can redevelopment of an old Naval Air Station prepare us for our future energy needs? Site A provides us with a place to integrate new technologies in areas such as solar energy and battery storage. Plus, we’ll be able to incorporate intelligent electronic devices that can help restore power faster than the methods used currently. 

AMP is now in the planning stages of a project to use these technologies to create a “microgrid,” which is an innovative system that produces local energy independent from the statewide electric grid. Our utility will take its place among other visionary agencies throughout the nation that are preparing for the future by developing local energy systems.

As technology evolves, we must build for tomorrow’s energy needs. The microgrid project will help us make good decisions for our city’s future energy needs and foster economic development. Our work with new energy technologies won’t stop at Site A. We intend to transfer the knowledge we gain from this project to modernize the way we provide energy across the Island.

In addition, the city will be able to apply what it learns in this project to its plans to stay resilient in the case of a natural disaster. Since microgrids are independent energy systems, they can be useful to cities if the state electric grid shuts down in an emergency.

As a utility owned by its customers, AMP strongly encourages the public to help plan for tomorrow. Share your view of the future of energy in our community: attend a Public Utilities Board meeting in person or email the Board at pub@alamedamp.com. As an owner of Alameda’s 129-year-old municipal utility, you have the power to help the community become stronger through innovation.

 

 

 

Mary Sutter is the president of Alameda’s Public Utilities Board.