One year ago this month, Oregon Convention Center (OCC) switched on one of the highest-producing solar arrays ever placed on a U.S. convention center. Its 6,500+ solar panels were expected to produce approximately 25 percent of the building’s electricity.
The OCC is pleased to announce that this original estimate was correct, and that it means a substantial reduction in the center's annual utility costs.
In its first full year of operation, the new solar array has generated 25.4% of all the power used at the facility, and the 1.8 million kWh it has produced to date could power 166 average American homes.
Using this clean energy, instead of conventionally produced electricity, helped the convention center keep an estimated 1,598 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, which is the amount of pollution created by driving a typical gas-engine car for 3,784,488 miles - or 16 trips to the moon.
"Put another way, that's the weight of 14 blue whales worth of carbon dioxide," says OCC sustainability coordinator Ryan Harvey. "And, as you know, CO2 is a gas, and quite light. So that's a staggering amount of pollution negated, representing a real reduction in our carbon footprint."
The solar array is owned and operated by SolarCity, which was awarded the project through a competitive procurement process. Funding for the collaborative project included a $500,000 grant from customers of Pacific Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy program and a $200,000 grant from the Energy Trust of Oregon.
The Oregon Convention Center is owned by Metro and managed by the Metro Exposition and Recreation Commission. OCC is a LEED Platinum certified facility hosting groups from around the world and bringing millions of dollars into the Portland and Oregon economy.