Oakland continues to receive recognition as a leader in green efforts.

The city was named “Solar Champion” by Environment California for having one of the highest rankings for solar roofs and solar power installed in the state, according to a Monday press release from Oakland.

Environment California, a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization, credits Oakland for more than 642 solar roofs and 7,007 kilowatts installed.

The organization presented the award to Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums on Monday afternoon.

“This award is a significant acknowledgement of the diligence and commitment Oakland has towards the goal of sustainability and energy efficiency,” said Dellums in a press release. “I commend the effort and results of the various businesses, residents, and city staff which have taken the lead to ensure that Oakland remains a statewide leader in this critical area.”

Earlier this month, Oakland was one of three California cities named as one of the top greenest cities in the nation by a pair of new rankings done by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Mother Nature Network.

Oakland was recognized then for having the cleanest tap water in the country, its hydrogen-powered public transit and the country’s oldest wildlife refuge. Also as a local source for fresh, organic food.

The following information was provided by the Office of Ron Dellums:

Oakland Solar Achievements

Installed Large Solar Energy Systems – The City has installed 1 Megawatt of solar electric panels on the rooftops of our Municipal Service Center and the downtown ice rink. These panels provide approximately 2.3% of our municipal electric load. The Port of Oakland and businesses such as FedEx have also installed large solar energy systems in Oakland.

City Solar Award – Oakland was awarded a 2007 City Solar Award by NorCal Solar for having the most solar power-generating capacity installed among large cities in 10 counties around the Bay Area.

Oakland Green Jobs Corps – The City of Oakland provided seed funding to help launch the Oakland Green Jobs Corps which is currently training community residents to augment the local solar installation workforce. The City provided $250,000 in 2008 to partners Laney College, Cypress Mandela Training Center and Growth Sector Inc. Together, this landmark partnership will provide world-class job training, environmental education, and connections to green jobs to at least 40 low-income Oakland residents. Students will learn green construction skills, solar installation, energy efficiency techniques, and more during its inaugural session.  The Green Jobs Corps will help to identify entry-level employment opportunities for individuals with limited experience or barriers to employment and provide them with the skills necessary to find meaningful employment in the green economy.

Solar for Low- and Moderate-Income Residential Properties – The City’s Redevelopment Agency recently partnered with GRID Alternatives to install solar energy systems on a number of low-income residential properties.

What’s Next?

Increased Solar on City Facilities – The City has surveyed the solar energy generating capacity of its rooftops and intends to install significant additional solar power capacity in the coming years. The City is currently exploring opportunities to enter into new solar power purchase agreements to increase the amount of solar on its facilities.

Energy and Climate Action Plan – The City is currently developing an Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP) to identify, evaluate and prioritize opportunities to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions in its own government operations and throughout the Oakland community. The Energy and Climate Acton Plan will clarify policy direction and recommend priority actions for reducing energy use and GHG emissions to the Oakland City Council.  This Plan may end up recommending additional expansion of solar energy use in Oakland.

Green Building Ordinance – The City of Oakland is considering adopting a mandatory green building ordinance for private development, through which installation of solar energy technologies could be rewarded.

Sustainable Energy Financing District – The City of Oakland is currently exploring the potential of creating a sustainable energy financing district allowing property owners to purchase solar panels and repay the cost via their property taxes.

Bay Area Climate Compact – The City of Oakland has committed to a number of goals as articulated in the Bay Area Climate Compact, including “From a 2008 baseline, increasing by 30% the use of renewable sources for electrical energy by the end of 2013 and by 50% by the end of 2018”

Solar Opportunity Assessment Tool – The City of Oakland is currently developing a web-based tool to assist Oakland residents in evaluating the energy generation potential of installing solar energy systems on their own properties.

James Spencer can be reached at jspencer@publicceo.com