Portland’s Oregon Convention Center Expands Solar Plans; Will Generate 25% of Electricity

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email

Portland, OR – Portland may not be known for its sunshine but the city’s Oregon Convention Center (OCC) will soon be catching some rays in a big way.

One of the highest-producing solar power arrays ever placed on a U.S. convention center roof is being installed at the OCC this Summer, and in the Fall, will begin producing 2 megawatts of electricity annually, or about 25% of the electricity used by the center.

“One of our core values is sustainability,” said OCC Executive Director Scott Cruickshank. “The rooftop installation will help us meet our carbon reduction goals and offset utility costs.”

Adding solar energy to the OCC sustainability mix follows up the center’s certification last year as a LEED Platinum building, the highest such certification available to convention centers. The OCC includes 255,000 square feet (sf) of prime exhibit space and 52,000 sf of meeting rooms. It ranked 50th on the TSE World’s Top Convention Centers listing.

The output of 2 megawatts will make the OCC one of the leading producers of solar power among all U.S. convention centers. The Anaheim Convention Center is upgrading its capacity to 2.4 megawatts, and Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino last year completed a solar installation capable of 6.4 megawatts.

The OCC project cost approximately $3 million and includes more than 6,500 solar panels capable of generating enough juice to supply 184 homes. Center officials told Trade Show Executive (TSE) that the project would not have any impact on the costs paid by show organizers and event planners.

The plan originally called for a capacity of 1.1 megawatts, but $700,000 in grant money from Energy Trust of Oregon and Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program allowed the center to expand it to 2 megawatts. “Their support made it possible to expand the original scope of the project…with no upfront costs borne by the facility or the taxpayers,” said Cruickshank.

The introduction late last year of new lighter-weight mounting equipment by the project’s primary vendor, SolarCity, also made it possible to place a higher number of panels on the center’s roof. The addition of solar panels had been on the OCC drawing board since 2009, but the first order of business was the replacement of the roof in 2013.

Reach Scott Cruickshank at (503) 235-7583 or scottcruickshank@oregoncc.org