Energy Bill Winners & Losers

California Current

Continuing to move ahead is SB 612 by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge). It would allow community aggregators and other providers to access the benefits of costly utility generation they pay for—early renewable contracts and utility-owned generation. The above market costs of these utility legacy resources show up in the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment fee imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission on community energy, other providers and ratepayers.

In related news, the CPUC agreed last week only to require the investor-owned utilities to sell to non utility providers a share of their renewable contracts. The commissioners declined also to distribute the utility resource adequacy and greenhouse gas-free emission attributes, as recommended by a working group. Last February, the California Community Choice Association, Southern California Edison, and the consulting firm Commercial Energy released a joint report. It detailed for the Commission agreements reached on the allocation of unused resources accumulating in utility portfolios due to a shrinking customer base.

SB 612 awaits a Senate Floor vote.

Read more here: Energy Bill Winners & Losers – CA Current

California may build 11.5GW of almost all carbon-free resources to replace its last nuclear plant

Canary Media 

California regulators have proposed adding 11.5 gigawatts of almost completely carbon-free capacity to its grid in the next five years. This ambitious target will require a massive build-out of batteries to shift solar power to cover the state’s grid peaks as natural-gas plants close and gigawatts of long-duration energy storage and dispatchable zero-carbon resources to make up for the loss of the state’s last nuclear power plant.

Some of the state’s largest CCAs joined forces last year to seek out 500 MW of long-duration energy storage resources. This spring they formed a joint procurement authority to combine their buying power and seek out larger-scale resources than would be needed from individual members.

Girish Balachandran, CEO of CCA Silicon Valley Clean Energy and head of the joint procurement authority, said in a March interview that last year’s request for proposals for long-duration storage yielded a broad mix of technologies for consideration, though he wouldn’t disclose the companies involved.

The proposals included “chemical flow batteries, compressed air, fuel cells with hydrogen, mechanical gravity storage, pumped hydro and a variety of thermal energy storage,” from compressed liquid gases to molten salt, he said. “We’ve got it for eight-, 10- and 12-hour discharge durations.”

Read more here: California may build 11.5GW of almost all carbon-free resources to replace its last nuclear plant (canarymedia.com)

California’s race to secure its grid against summer blackouts

Canary Media

California may be able to get through the coming summer without facing a repeat of last August’s rolling blackouts — if the weather cooperates.

But if the state faces another regionwide heatwave, it will need to rely on gigawatt-hours’ worth of newly installed batteries, a smaller but significant amount of extra natural-gas-fired power plant capacity, and a bigger commitment from customers to curtail electricity use during peak evening hours to ride through the emergency.

California’s investor-owned utilities and community choice aggregators have also contracted for about 1.7 gigawatts of capacity set to be online by August 2021 — almost all of it batteries — to meet the CPUC’s 2019 mandate to secure 3.3 gigawatts of new resources by 2023. Ironically, that 2019 order was aimed at quickly replacing capacity that was slated to be lost due to the retirement of gas-fired power plants along the Southern California coast — plants that had their closure postponed for several years after last summer’s grid crisis.

Ed Randolph, deputy executive director for energy and climate policy at the California Public Utilities Commission, highlighted during a May 4 briefing on the state’s summer preparations that the steps being taken independently of CPUC action that are boosting the potential demand-side relief that could help the grid this summer. Marin Clean Energy and East Bay Community Energy, two of the state’s rapidly expanding roster of community choice aggregators, have launched programs that are enlisting customers outside of California’s existing resource adequacy constructs, for example.

Read more here: California’s race to secure its grid against summer blackouts (canarymedia.com)

CPUC Only Okays Utilities Selling RPS Resources to Community Energy

California Current

Private utilities that purchased renewable resources on behalf of customers that have now switched to community energy must offer that generation to the community aggregators for purchase, the California Public Utilities Commission decided May 20. Related contentious issues such as the allocation of resources counting toward resource adequacy and the price tag placed on the greenhouse gas-free attributes remain unresolved.

In a May 20 statement, the California Community Choice Association said it appreciated the commission requiring utilities “to open up access to renewable energy benefits to all customers who pay for those benefits.” But it objected to the denial of “equitable access to resource adequacy benefits” and the commission’s punting of “consideration of a GHG-free benchmark to a future proceeding.”

Read more hereCPUC Only Okays Utilities Selling RPS Resources to Community Energy – CA Current

California community choice aggregator’s board approves 15-year geothermal energy contract

Public Power Daily

The Board of Directors for California’s Clean Power Alliance (CPA) recently approved a 15-year contract with Ormat Technologies Inc.’s Heber South Geothermal facility located in Imperial Valley, Calif.

Once the long-term contract takes effect January 1, 2022, the facility will add 14 megawatts of renewable energy to CPA’s energy portfolio. With an expected average annual generation of 116,508 MWh, the project will also allow CPA to further comply with the state of California’s aggressive renewable energy mandates.

In addition, the contract brings CPA closer to meeting its regulatory obligations under California’s SB 100 and SB 350, which require that 65% of Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) compliance related renewable energy supply be sourced from long-term contracts beginning in the 2021-2024 compliance period.

Read more here: California community choice aggregator’s board approves 15-year geothermal energy contract | American Public Power Association

California community energy group signs PPA for 50MW / 200MWh solar-plus-storage project

Energy Storage News

A long-term power purchase agreement has been signed for the output of a 50MW solar farm with 200MWh of battery storage, by Desert Community Energy, one of several Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) energy suppliers in California.

Desert Community Energy signed a 20-year PPA deal with developer Vesper Energy for the CCA to buy all of the energy produced by the Deer Creek project for its customers in the City of Palm Springs. The 378 acre project in California’s Tulare County is scheduled to begin construction in 2022 for completion during the following year.

Desert Community Energy’s chair Geoff Kors said the deal will “help lock-in a significant portion of our energy costs providing rate certainty and saving our residents and businesses US$13 million to US$50 million in cost savings”.

Read more here: California community energy group signs PPA for 50MW / 200MWh solar-plus-storage project | Energy Storage News (energy-storage.news)

San Diego Community Choice to Buy Power from New Solar Energy Farm in Imperial Valley

Times of San Diego

San Diego Community Power, the not-for-profit community choice energy program serving five cities in the San Diego region, entered into a power purchase agreement with an affiliate of RAI Energy International, it was announced Tuesday.

The project, the Vikings Energy Farm, is located in Imperial County and is an integrated 100 megawatt photovoltaic solar energy project with up to 150 MW/600 MWh of battery energy storage intended to provide San Diego Community Power with a 20-year supply of renewable energy, help meet peak summer demand, and support grid reliability.

Under the terms of the power purchase agreement with RAI Energy — a San Jose-based global renewable energy development company — Vikings Energy Farm project is intended to help SDCP power the equivalent of 50,000 homes.

“We are thrilled to be delivering on our promise to invest in projects that deliver more renewable energy to our customers and support regional jobs and economic development,” said Joe Mosca, Encinitas city councilman and chair of the SDCP board. “The Vikings Energy Farm project will provide clean energy when we need it most while supporting our goal of procuring 100% renewable energy to our customers by 2035 or sooner.”

Read more here: San Diego Community Choice to Buy Power from New Solar Energy Farm in Imperial Valley – Times of San Diego

As utilities match CCAs on price, aggregators increase climate action, grow economies of scale to compete

Utility Dive

Community choice aggregations (CCAs), once seen primarily as a way for customers to lower their utility bills, are responding to new competitive prices from utilities by stressing their value in the energy transition.

Nine states have CCA-enabling legislation allowing local governments to form a power providing organization for their residents. In some of those states, CCAs are serving significant numbers of former investor-owned utility (IOU) customers. But as utilities turn to low cost natural gas and renewables to keep prices down, CCAs have begun using customer demand for ambitious climate action to stay competitive, data shows.

The record-setting growth of state and local governments with 100% clean energy or zero emissions targets and the growth of CCAs are linked, according to 2019 reports from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin Center for Innovation (Luskin).

CCAs are also forcing utilities to set higher climate and renewables goals, added Sierra Club Ready for 100 Senior Campaign Representative Drew O’Bryan. “Each CCA with a 100% renewables commitment adds pressure for the utility to accelerate the timeline of its transition.”

CCAs are maturing into “stable, creditworthy organizations able to take on large, long-term procurements” that can meet system needs, said Independent Energy Producers Association Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones, former head of the California grid operator’s board of directors. And CCAs are increasingly led by “people who understand how the power system works.”

Read more here: As utilities match CCAs on price, aggregators increase climate action, grow economies of scale to compete | Utility Dive

Clean Energy Alliance launches May 1

The Coast News

On May 1, a new energy service launches for residents of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

Residents in each city are automatically enrolled in the Clean Energy Alliance, although most customers, including most businesses, will not start their service until after their May billing cycle with San Diego Gas & Electric, according to Barbara Boswell, interim executive director of the CEA.

CEA is a Community Choice Aggregation program designed to bring renewable and clean energy to help the state meet its climate goals.

“When a customer switches from SDG&E to CEA, there is no change to them in their electricity,” Boswell said. “Their energy is coming from what we’ve procured and their billing will be at our rates.”

All three cities approved the Clean Impact Plus product, a 50% renewable energy and 75% carbon-free product, which will save customers 0.9% compared to SDG&E for 2021, Boswell said. CEA will save customers 2% on generation costs compared to SDG&E.

Read more here: Clean Energy Alliance launches May 1 – The Coast News Group

Community Energy Helps Cover Legacy Costs. It Now Could Get Something in Return

California Current

Non-utility electricity providers specifically pay for their share of the IOU’s above-market early renewable agreements and utility-owned generation. The rational is that the investments were made when their customers were IOU ratepayers.

The combined tab of the three investor-owned utilities PCIA this year is a forecast $3.9 million, according to the California Community Choice Association. It is allocated among utility and non utility customers. Pacific Gas & Electric’s forecast 2021 PCIA is $2.4 billion, according to the utility.

Sam Kang, Pioneer Community Energy chief operating officer, told the committee that the exit fee Pioneer pays is currently 20% of its customers’ bills. Yet they don’t get any of the benefits, he said.

SB 612 would allow community aggregators to take a portion of the resource adequacy and clean energy characteristics of legacy resources offered, starting in July 2022. In return, the aggregators would pay the IOU the market price as set by the CPUC.

Read more here: Community Energy Helps Cover Legacy Costs. It Now Could Get Something in Return – CA Current