Early this month, three community-choice aggregators and one municipal utility serving much of California’s San Francisco Bay Area launched a 30-megawatt distributed energy storage-plus-solar solicitation. It breaks ground on multiple fronts.
First, it’s one of the largest-ever efforts to aggregate distributed energy resources (DERs) at a scale that can help California’s power grid meet its capacity needs.
Second, it’s being launched by CCAs, the city or county energy procurement entities that are taking over an increasing share of customers from the state’s investor-owned utilities — and thus an increasing share of responsibility for securing the state’s long-term clean energy needs.
Then, of course, there are the blackouts.
East Bay Community Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy are all served by bankrupt utility Pacific Gas & Electric, which has cut off power to millions of its customers over the past two months as part of a statewide fire-prevention regime. PG&E has warned that these blackouts could continue for another 10 years, despite its efforts to reduce their scope and scale over time. The safety threats from blackouts have outraged state lawmakers and regulators, forcing counties and cities to foot the bill for emergency services to deal with them.
And because CCAs’ interests are aligned with the cities and counties they serve, they’re positioned to act far more quickly than utilities to supply their most vulnerable customers with solar-storage systems that can help them survive blackouts. That’s important, because the CCAs want at least some of these new solar-storage systems to be in place for next year’s fire season.