Western Energy Transition Addresses Environmental, Social Justice Concerns

California Energy Markets

“CCAs are not-for-profit, community-based organizations and are structured to ensure the community has a voice in planning and decision making,” the California Community Choice Association said in an emailed response to the report. Environmental justice is an area where California’s community choice energy programs strive to have a positive impact, the organization said. “CCAs can and should be a model for energy equity and energy democracy.”

Jenna Famular, spokesperson for California’s first CCA, MCE of San Rafael, said in an email to California Energy Markets that MCE’s goal is “to integrate and center equity” across its work. The CCA serves communities in four California counties and has a diversity, equity and inclusion team that meets regularly to discuss staff education and historic inequities in its communities.

A Community Power Coalition brings together representatives from community organizations in MCE’s service area to further inform direction on these topics. Local chapters of Communities for a Better Environment and the Asian-Pacific Environmental Network, both of which are core members of CEJA, are part of the coalition, Famular said. CalCCA’s own equity committee convenes regularly to share best practices and collaborate on new initiatives while providing CCAs flexibility to address equity issues in their local communities, she added.

California’s CCAs have expanded renewable resources across the state by more than 6 GW since 2017 while also providing workforce opportunities, public electric-vehicle charging infrastructure and other benefits to their communities, according to CalCCA’s Fall 2020 report. San Jose Clean Energy recently signed a power-purchase agreement for 225 MW of wind power from one of several New Mexico projects that will help restore tax revenue lost from the closure of fossil fuel generation resources and reduced oil and natural gas production (see related story).

CCAs are shifting the narrative on clean power to one of inclusion, MCE said. Cost declines and programs that help members afford home battery storage, rooftop solar and EVs extend those options to lower-income residents who have historically been priced out of those markets. Meanwhile, traditional net-metering policies face increasing criticism of being reverse subsidies as lower-income households purchase utility power generated from those resources on higher-income homes. This phenomenon was discussed in a recent study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other researchers (see CEM No. 1618).

East Bay Community Energy’s Resilient Home program, launched in July, offers pre-negotiated pricing on solar-plus-storage systems, which not only reduce utility bills and emissions but also offer backup during grid outages, including public-safety power shut-offs. After installation, Sunrun pays EBCE’s Resilient Home customers an additional $1,250 for agreeing to share stored energy with the CCA during demand spikes, further reducing emissions and lowering costs.

CCAs have encouraged registration in the California Public Utilities Commission’s discount programs for low-income customers. MCE also opted into the CPUC’s recently created arrearage-management program that will allow debt forgiveness for customers who have fallen behind on gas and electric bills as they get back on track beginning in 2021, Famular said (see CEM No. 1594). MCE would welcome legislation allowing CCAs to be administrators for such programs, as suggested in the CEJA report, and is seeking that authority now for the Energy Savings Assistance program, which funds its Low Income Families and Tenants pilot program, she added.

As the Western energy landscape shifts, Famular said CCAs and the communities they serve must be involved in addressing equity issues. “It is vital that equity concerns are not addressed in a one-size-fits-all approach,” she said.

Read more here: Western Energy Transition Addresses Environmental, Social Justice Concerns | Regional Roundup | newsdata.com

Community choice energy switched on for 100,000 Central Coast customers

San Louis Obispo Tribune

Roughly 100,000 new local customers are now receiving electricity through Central Coast Community Energy starting this month, joining 400,000 others who already receive community power throughout the region.

According to a Central Coast Community Energy (3CE) news release, agriculture, business and residential customers in Arroyo Grande, Del Ray Oaks, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Solvang and unincorporated Northern Santa Barbara County began receiving service from the community-owned electricity provider in January.

3CE, previously called Monterey Bay Community Power, is a community choice energy organization that allows local governments to pool electricity demand for their communities for cost-savings. It also promises lower greenhouse gas emissions and more customer control.

Read more here: SLO County cities switch to Central Coast Community Energy | San Luis Obispo Tribune

East Bay Community Energy aims for 100% clean energy by 2030

Pleasanton Weekly

East Bay Community Energy recently committed to providing nearly 1.7 million local customers with 100% renewable energy in the next decade, 15 years ahead of the state’s target date, when the Board of Directors adopted the policy at its Dec. 16 meeting.

The action makes EBCE one of the country’s largest electricity providers to commit to 100% renewable power in the next ten years, and also sets the stage for taking “bold action to fight climate change while addressing the needs of our community,” officials said in a statement.

Board Chair Dan Kalb, who also serves on the Oakland City Council, said the policy “has already resulted in contracts for over 500 megawatts of new California wind, solar, and energy storage,” and that EBCE “expects to contract for several hundred more megawatts of clean energy” this year.

“This positions EBCE well to meet its 100% clean energy goals,” Kalb said. “Through this procurement, EBCE is also focused on bringing the benefits of clean energy — jobs, resiliency, healthy air, and lower costs — to residents and businesses across the East Bay.”

Read more here: East Bay Community Energy aims for 100% clean energy by 2030 | News | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Silicon Valley Clean Energy Receives ‘A’ Issuer Credit Rating from S&P Global Ratings

Public Power Daily

S&P Global Ratings on Jan. 5 assigned an “A” issuer credit rating to Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE), a California community choice aggregator (CCA).

This credit rating, the second investment-grade credit rating for SVCE, “reflects the assessment completed by S&P Global, and speaks to SVCE’s financial strength and robust energy risk management policies,” SVCE said in a news release.

“New opportunities from this credit rating allow SVCE to provide affordable clean electricity while continuing to fund innovation and decarbonization programs within the SVCE service area,” said SVCE CEO Girish Balachandran.

SVCE said that S&P Global’s “A” rating recognizes the stability of the customer base since service began in 2017, a diverse clean power supply, low rates and internal credit-supportive policies seen at SVCE.

S&P Global views SVCE financial and enterprise profiles as strong, with approximately $160 million in cash reserves, the CCA said.

In addition, the rating will enable SVCE to negotiate new energy supply contracts at lower costs, resulting in lower energy rates for customers, it noted.

Read more here: Silicon Valley Clean Energy receives “A” issuer credit rating from S&P Global Ratings | American Public Power Association

What Biden’s Good Climate Plan Is Missing So Far

Bloomberg

Suppose we could adopt, soon or right now, a strategy that would substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions while costing people very little, or possibly even nothing? Not only that, it would not require bans or mandates, new regulations or carbon taxes. Consumers would retain freedom of choice. The very idea sounds fanciful, even nuts. Yet a number of municipalities in California have adopted such an approach, and it’s in widespread use in Germany, where it is having a major impact. `

In California, green by default has been made possible by what is called Community Choice Aggregation. Local governments are allowed to obtain power from an alternative supplier, while also receiving services from their existing supplier. If municipalities choose, they can negotiate better rates from that existing supplier, or decide instead to drop that supplier in favor of a greener one (perhaps because greener is better on environmental grounds, perhaps because greener is cheaper).

Read more here: Biden Climate Plan Needs ‘Green by Default’ – Bloomberg

Two More Cities Join Regional Renewable Energy Agency a Day Before New Board Meets

Voice Of OC

Lake Forest and Buena Park have signed on to a new Community Choice Energy program expected to lower costs for residents through investments in renewable energy. Irvine has offered to pay $2.7 million to create the new agency singlehandedly, and has committed to offering collateral for a loan ranging from $8 million to $17 million for the initial capital. Huntington Beach and Fullerton also voted to join the power authority recently, which now has five cities as members. Other cities in the county interested in joining next year include Santa Ana, Placentia, Stanton, Aliso Viejo and Villa Park. The cities that joined already will become the founding members of the Orange County Power Authority.

The community choice program is a public electric utility service that will give customers the option of getting their electrical power from a utility provider or a local government entity. Proponents of the program have praised its options that allow for greater investment in renewable energy sources and microgrids, and point out it allows greater local control over the source of the power supply. “We also need to reduce our production of greenhouse gases to avoid an environmental catastrophe. This means that our future source of energy needs to be renewables such as solar, wind, and possibly hydrogen,” said one resident during the Lake Forest City Council meeting Tuesday.

Read more here: Two More Cities Join Regional Renewable Energy Agency a Day Before New Board Meets -Voice of OC

Calif. aggregators to seek up to 20 GW of renewable energy, storage by 2030

S&P Global

As California’s local government-run community choice aggregators take on a larger share of the responsibility for purchasing power in the state, they anticipate signing long-term contracts for up to 20,000 MW of renewable energy and energy storage by 2030, according to a spokesperson for the California Community Choice Association. That would account for the vast majority of new resources that community choice aggregators, or CCAs, investor-owned utilities and other load-serving entities together must procure to meet the state’s 2030 retail electricity target of 60% renewable energy and is roughly double CCAs’ anticipated acquisitions from a year ago. Since November 2019, CCAs have added power purchase agreements for 1,700 MW of new renewable energy and 882.5 MW of battery storage, the spokesperson said.

Read more here: https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/calif-aggregators-to-seek-up-to-20-gw-of-renewable-energy-storage-by-2030-61247574

 

Calif. CCAs sign 6,000 MW in long-term contracts with new-build clean energy resources

Public Power Daily

The California Community Choice Association on Nov. 12 reported that community choice aggregators in the state have to date signed long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for more than 6,000 megawatts (MW) with new-build clean energy resources.

The total includes almost 5,000 MW in executed renewable energy PPAs, an increase of 1,700 MW compared to a year ago, and more than 1,000 MW in battery energy storage contracts, a four-fold increase over last year.

“The increasing volumes reflect the important leadership position CCAs hold as the main drivers of new clean energy procurement in California,” the association said in a news release.

Each November for the last three years, CalCCA has provided a snapshot of the progress CCAs are making in securing new-build clean energy resources through long-term PPAs. This year’s update shows CCAs have added in a single year a record-setting amount of clean energy to their portfolios while bringing more diverse resources to the mix.

CCAs have signed in the last year renewable energy and energy storage PPAs totaling 2,600 MW, bringing the total to more than 6,000 MW in new-build solar, wind, biogas, energy storage, and, for the first time, geothermal energy. The geothermal power plant, slated for completion in 2021, will be the first new geothermal facility built in the California Independent System Operator balancing area in 30 years.

Meanwhile, CalCCA said that energy storage is becoming an ever more important reliability resource. CCAs signed long-term battery energy storage contracts totaling 1,072 MW/3,847 megawatt-hours (MWh), quadruple the amount CCAs had at this time last year. About 72% of the total is co-located with solar generation facilities that will charge the batteries.

Read more here: https://www.publicpower.org/periodical/article/calif-ccas-sign-6000-mw-long-term-contracts-with-new-build-clean-energy-resources

What Is the Clean Energy Industry Doing to Confront Racism?

Greentech Media

In the wake of spring outpourings of grief and anger over the killings of Black Americans such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, numerous companies in the clean energy industry turned the lens inward. Companies that had never before spoken out about racism published statements condemning it, and some donated to the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Despite the unprecedented action, inequality is not a new or unrecognized problem in the renewables industry. It remains to be seen whether these newest expressions of upset and accompanying initiatives to combat racism within and outside company ranks will continue.

“If we’re really going to make advances that move the needle in a more comprehensive way, we need to be thinking of more comprehensive solutions than just what is the quickest solution to the problem right in front of me,” said Stephanie Chen, the former energy equity director at The Greenlining Institute and now senior policy counsel at community-choice aggregator Marin Clean Energy. “It’s up to the clean energy industries, as well as to policymakers, to make that commitment across the sector to do better.”

Read more here: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-is-the-clean-energy-industry-doing-to-confront-racism

New Energy Providers Join Forces Against Entrenched Agency Rules

California Current

Bureaucratic red tape at the California Public Utilities Commission prevented East Bay Community Energy from contracting for clean, behind-the-meter electricity last year that could have provided power or lowered demand during the August heat waves. The resources were designated to help meet East Bay’s 2020 resource adequacy obligations. The community aggregator says it also is hitting a wall with regulators who have limited its ability to invest in clean demand response and capitalize on aggregated residential solar-plus-storage resources, Stefanie Tanenhaus, EBCE senior regulatory analyst, told Current.

EBCE has now joined with other community energy organizations and third-party demand response suppliers who share similar frustrations, and together are pushing back.

In a letter to the Chair of the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee last week, they laid out specific ways California’s clean capacity reserves can be increased, averting blackouts. These range from removing market uncertainties and other hurdles faced by large and small energy storage projects, to doing away with outmoded caps on conservation. The group is urging the grid operator and CPUC to take five steps, or else risk a repeat of the unacceptable mid-August rolling blackouts.

“It’s imperative that we immediately implement these common-sense changes that can not only help stabilize the grid by 2021, but save consumers on their electricity bills, while also having the benefit of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from burning more natural gas,” Tanenhaus said.

Read more here: https://cacurrent.com/subscriber/archives/41940