California needs a new model for how power is delivered

Mercury News

Gov. Gavin Newsom ripped Pacific Gas & Electric on Thursday, calling the power shutdown that affected hundreds of thousands of Californians unacceptable.

“This is not a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades,” he said. “Neglect, a desire to advance not public safety but profits.”

We agree.

The question is what, if anything, is the governor going to do about it.

The governor should provide incentives for the further development of community choice aggregators (CCAs), which allow local governments to form their own energy providers and act independently from utilities such as PG&E. A half-dozen CCAs are already operating or on the verge of offering energy alternatives in the Bay Area.

CCAs aren’t perfect. But they carry the capacity to install the microgrids that can serve as a power source for cities when utilities shut off power during adverse weather conditions.

Read more here:

California wants a carbon-free economy by 2045: Can floating offshore wind help it get there?

Utility Dive

Emerging floating offshore wind technologies could save California electricity customers billions in the next two decades and play a key role in achieving the state’s ambitious climate and renewable energy goals, a new report concludes. But the mechanics of floating wind remain unproven at scale and developers face multiple permitting and financing hurdles. Nevertheless, California could be where floating offshore wind (OSW) finally breaks into the U.S. market. Two California load serving entities—community choice providers Monterey Bay Community Power and Redwood Coast Energy Authority—have signed non-binding offtaker agreements with floating OSW developers.

Read more here:

Power Pivot: Community Choice Energy arrives on the Central Coast

New Times San Luis Obispo

The expansion happened fast. In the span of a year, 10 Central Coast cities and Santa Barbara County all had voted, one after the other, to join as members of Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), a growing Community Choice Energy (CCE) utility that currently serves Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties.

It started with San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay in late 2018. Then Paso Robles and Grover Beach in spring 2019. By the end of August, Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Guadalupe, Goleta, Carpentaria, and unincorporated Santa Barbara County had all jumped on board with MBCP—capping a near region-wide transition to the electricity provider.

“It just kind of took off,” said J.R. Killigrew, director of communications for MBCP. “In six months, we more or less have unified the Central Coast.”

Each city came at MBCP from a different angle—but all that voted to join noted the CCE’s lower rates and carbon-free energy portfolio compared to PG&E.

“I think it’s a safe bet,” said Mike Cordero, a Santa Maria City Council member. “The cost of power goes down, and we won’t be using any fossil fuel energy.”

Read more here:

San Diego City Council takes the leap into community choice energy

San Diego Union Tribune

The city of San Diego is about to enter the power-purchasing business. On a 7-2 vote Tuesday afternoon, the San Diego City Council approved the formation of a community choice aggregation, or CCA, energy program. The council also approved a joint powers agreement that will see San Diego partner with Chula Vista, La Mesa, Encinitas and — by all indications — Imperial Beach to take the place of San Diego Gas & Electric when it comes to purchasing sources of electricity within their jurisdictions.

Read more here:

Greater wildfire risks prompt growth of electrical ‘microgrids’ to rely less on PG&E

Santa Rosa Press Democrat

For Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, microgrids are part of a larger effort to gain energy independence from PG&E’s distribution monopoly in Northern California. Instead of relying on a large corporation’s efforts to migrate toward renewable sources of energy, like solar and wind, a microgrid makes everyone a participant in reducing a community’s carbon footprint, he said.

Read more here:


Chico, Butte County moving toward purchasing power for residents

Oroville Mercury Register

Butte County and Chico are taking the first steps toward buying electrical power for their residents. That should save people in the two jurisdictions about 2 percent on their power bills when the process is completed by the start of 2021. The total savings would be about $5 million a year. The city and county governments have been discussing formation of what’s called a community choice aggregation for more than a year, but now concrete steps are being taken. This week, the Board of Supervisors approved a required ordinance to form the local CCA, which is being called Butte Choice Energy. The Chico City Council is scheduled to have the first reading of its ordinance Tuesday, with final approval Oct. 1.

Read more here:

California Community Choice Aggregator Sees Promise in Floating Offshore Wind

Greentech Media

California community choice aggregator (CCA) Monterey Bay Community Power has signed a memorandum of understanding to explore buying the power from a 1,000-megawatt floating offshore wind farm.

It’s an early, if no-stakes, claim to what could be a massive offshore wind opportunity set to open via federal offshore lease auction next year, assuming floating wind turbine technology can meet the tests of wind, wave and California’s energy markets.

This week’s MOU, which is not a binding contract, calls for a long-term power purchase agreement between Monterey Bay Community Power and Castle Wind LLC, a joint venture of EnBW North America and Trident Winds Inc. The power is to be delvered by 2025 from the Castle Wind Offshore project, which would see around 100 wind turbines held upright by floating substructures anchored to the ocean floor 30 miles off California’s Central Coast.

It’s the most public step yet by one of the more than a dozen developers that are reportedly eyeing California’s offshore wind potential, including Avangrid Renewables, EDF, EDP, E.ON and Equinor. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is planning to hold an auction in 2020 for leases off California’s coastline.

Read more here:

Aggregators supply nearly one-quarter of regulated load in California

S&P Global

California’s cities and counties are at the center of a sweeping local takeover of power procurement as the world’s fifth-largest economy strives to decarbonize its electric system.

Formed in recent years by more than 130 cities, counties and towns, 19 local government-run agencies known as community choice aggregators, or CCAs, now purchase electricity for about 10 million Californians, roughly a quarter of the state’s population, according to the California Community Choice Association.

Ten of these aggregators emerged in 2018 alone in a mass defection that predominantly hit Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or PG&E, and Southern California Edison Co. Propelled by communities’ desire for a faster energy transition and by a state law that requires automatic customer enrollment when local governments form CCAs, more migration is in progress.

Read more here:

San Jose contracts for solar-plus-storage project

Public Power Daily

San Jose Clean Energy and EDP Renewables North America on Wednesday signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for 100 megawatts of new solar energy and 10 MW of battery storage from the Sonrisa Solar Park in Fresno County, California.

Non-profit San Jose Clean Energy is a community choice aggregator run by the City of San Jose’s Community Energy Department. It began providing electrical service to over 300,000 customers in February 2019.

“Today’s investment will avoid more than 4.1 million tons of greenhouse gases from our air, bringing us another step closer towards meeting the aggressive emission reduction targets defined in our Climate Smart San Jose plan and securing a sustainable future for our community,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

EDP Renewables North America LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of EDP Renewables SA based in Madrid. Is developing the solar-plus-storage project in Fresno County south of San Jose. It is slated to begin operations in 2022.

With the signing of the San Jose PPA, the Sonrisa Solar Park is now envisioned as a 200 MW the solar-plus-storage project.

In June, EDP Renewables North America signed a 20-year PPA for 100 MW of solar and 30 MW of storage capacity with East Bay Community Energy, a community choice aggregator in Alameda County, California.

Read more here:

What are California’s CCAs Up To? Catch Up Here

There’s a seismic shift underway in California, and I’m not referring to the recent earthquakes that have rocked the state. The shift is occurring as electricity load migrates from bundled, investor-owned utility (IOU) service to local community choice aggregators (CCAs). Statewide in the three main IOU territories combined, CCAs are now serving about 25 percent of load and more community choice programs are poised to launch in 2020 and beyond.

In April, when the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a preferred portfolio of resources to meet the state’s 2030 emissions-reduction target, the magnitude of this shakeup on procurement responsibility came into bold relief. CCAs plan to purchase more than 90 percent, or 10,000 MW, of the new clean energy resources that are needed by 2030, while IOUs and energy service providers plan to invest in approximately 1,000 MW combined.

Even as some continue to question the financial wherewithal of CCAs, aggregators are successfully plugging away at signing new long-term power purchase agreements, going above and beyond state green energy requirements. CCAs have already signed contracts for well over 2,500 MW with new renewable energy facilities in California, with almost 600 MW
secured in June alone (see updates from Clean Power Alliance and East Bay Community Energy below).

CCAs’ procurement of battery energy storage—a combined 150 MW/600 MWh in less than a year—is proving to be a case study that demonstrates the capability of CCAs to rapidly procure the resources the state needs to meet and exceed clean energy goals, despite their newness and short credit histories.

With energy storage, “CCAs are breaking open a new market that does not depend on the lengthy cycle of utility procurement,” notes a recent Greentech Media article. “The fact that the local decision-making process moves faster than working with massive utility bureaucracies only sweetens the deal.”

In June, CalCCA shared a letter with Gov. Newsom and legislative leaders that provides a series of detailed recommendations for improving the reliability of electricity service, reducing the risk associated with IOU operations, and making communities more resilient in the face of catastrophic wildfires.

The letter contains our views on the transformation of the state’s energy market, and the regulatory and legislative changes we believe are necessary to keep the lights on, protect ratepayers and fire victims, and cultivate the clean energy system California will need to thrive. We hope you will join us in helping to ensure that every community in California has safe, reliable, affordable clean energy options.

Read the full Q2 2019 report here: