University of California to supply electricity to select campuses, medical centers

The University of California will begin directly supplying electricity to its campuses and medical centers this month as part of an initiative to become the first research university to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

UC will switch from a third-party electricity supplier and throughout January begin to provide electric power directly to five of its campuses and three of its medical centers, along with other electric accounts throughout the university.

“The University of California is committed to being a leader in sustainability and this brings us another step closer to achieving carbon neutrality,” said Nathan Brostrom, UC’s chief financial officer. “Making this switch will give UC more control over the type of energy it buys, and provide our campuses and medical centers with more price transparency.”

Last year, UC became a registered Electric Service Provider (ESP), allowing its Wholesale Power Program to serve as the primary energy supplier, under direct access rules, to UC Irvine and its medical center, UC San Diego and its medical center, UC San Francisco and its medical center, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced and a number of other accounts throughout the university.

Direct access is an optional service that allows retail customers to purchase electric supplies and additional energy services from a competitive ESP.

UC’s ability to enter into its own long-term contracts is intended to help control costs. UC staff estimate that making this change also could trim the university’s power bills by as much as 10 percent in 2015.

As part of its climate neutrality initiative, UC also announced plans last September to make the largest solar energy purchase by any U.S. higher education institution by signing two power purchase agreements with Frontier Renewables, a power provider focused on solar photovoltaic technology. Those agreements secure solar energy for UC for 25 years, and will allow the university to supply 206,000 megawatt-hours per year of solar energy to California’s electrical grid.

UC’s Wholesale Power Program is overseen by a governing board with representatives from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Merced, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco and UC Santa Cruz.