Here’s why Stanford can’t get its power back on

Stanford University, the intellectual core of Silicon Valley, is struggling with something basic: electricity.

Why is it taking so long?

In normal times, Stanford powers its campus with 100% renewable energy — a milestone it achieved this year. Most of it is solar power.

But only a small portion of the solar — less than 10%, according to Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Jacobson — is on campus, on building roofs. The rest comes from two massive solar plants in Kern and Kings counties.

Because the power is not produced right on campus, Stanford relies on the state power grid to transport the electricity. In other words, Jacobson said, there is no direct power from the solar plants to the campus.

So “if there is a grid outage, the university’s going to be affected as well,” he said.

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