‘DRIVEtheARC’ EV Charging Corridor Completed in Northern California

DRIVEtheARC, a collaborative demonstration project to install a large corridor of electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations in Northern California, has completed deployment and marked a grand opening on the one-year anniversary of the project’s official launch. The project installed 55 new EV chargers at 25 locations spanning from Monterey to Lake Tahoe.

A collaborative effort between the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) (Japan’s largest public R&D management organization), and the State of California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, in partnership with Nissan Motor Co., Nissan North America, Kanematsu and EVgo, DRIVEtheARC encourages more trips with EVs by increasing the ease of long-distance travel along one of California’s most frequented travel routes. As an integrated, international cooperation, NEDO is funding the DRIVEtheARC corridor as part of its mission to improve energy conservation and promote new energy technologies, as well to help facilitate government relations and research and information exchange between the U.S. and Japan.

DRIVEtheARC has also announced the start of a real-time SOC data link service with NissanConnect via the DRIVEtheARC smartphone app. The app will also provide more accurate range advice, and users will be able to select a recommended station based on the cruising range and charger availability data. By the end of 2018, the app will include trip planning and voice recognition features. The app was created in partnership with Kanematsu, a global trading house with expertise in electronics and information technology. Driving statistics will allow Nissan, Kanematsu, EVgo and NEDO to analyze and measure charger use patterns to support future EV charging projects globally.

“At Nissan, our goal is to increase widespread EV use so that we can benefit the environment on global basis; the opening of the DRIVEtheARC corridor represents a big milestone for the further adoption of EVs,” says Hitoshi Kawaguchi, chief sustainability officer of Nissan Motor. “A robust public EV charging network is a key factor for stimulating further EV utilization and eventual EV market expansion. We are delighted to be able to provide Northern California with a fast charging network that covers major points of interest for drivers.”

Nissan partnered with DRIVEtheARC as part of its “Infrastructure for All” strategy, and the car manufacturer has worked to provide Nissan LEAF drivers with access to fast charging stations across country.

As the project’s local partner, EVgo managed the installation of the DRIVEtheARC infrastructure with the deployment of 55 EV fast-charging stations at 25 convenient locations. Fast-charging stations were installed at key high-traffic retail partners along the route to create a true inter-city charging network. EVgo notes it now operates 950 fast chargers in over 600 locations nationwide.

“After months of hard work, we are thrilled to announce the grand opening of DRIVEtheARC,” says Terry O’Day, vice president of product strategy and market development at EVgo. “The corridor provides drivers with the charging infrastructure needed to go from surf to ski in Northern California. We hope the opening of DRIVEtheARC will pave the way for future EV integration in the state and continue to encourage EV drivers to travel farther distances, without the stress of finding somewhere to charge.”

For more information, check out the DRIVEtheARC website here.

‘DRIVEtheARC’ EV Charging Corridor Completed in Northern California, by Joseph Bebon, Next-Gen Transportation, November 15, 2017.

A Tidal Wave of Local Clean Energy in California

Menlo Spark is an independent nonprofit working to help Menlo Park, California, become climate neutral by 2025. It is working with Peninsula Clean Energy to provide clean energy to San Mateo County. RMI worked as a strategic advisor to Menlo Spark in the early stages of its effort.

A clean energy revolution is quietly washing over California right now with cities choosing cleaner, cheaper power and keeping those investments local. At the epicenter of this transformation is the San Francisco Bay Area, where almost all the cities and counties have either already started or joined, or are planning on creating community choice energy programs (CCEs). CCEs allow the community to choose its energy supplier, often offering electricity with significantly more renewables at a competitive price. It started with Marin Clean Energy in 2010, spread to Sonoma Clean Power in 2014, to Lancaster Choice Energy in 2015, to San Francisco (Clean Power SF) and San Mateo County in 2016, to Silicon Valley Clean Energy in 2017, and then on to Apple Valley and Redwood Coast. East Bay and San Jose CCEs are anticipated to come online soon, completing the circle of clean energy around the Bay. Seven other CCEs are also anticipated so that most of the eligible population in California will soon be served by locally controlled community choice energy (see this map).

Although California’s latest push to go 100 percent renewable statewide through legislation (Senate Bill 100) is delayed, the promise to advance renewable energy and local climate action plan programs is sprinting forward through CCEs. Consider, for example, Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), which completed its San Mateo County launch on Earth Day of this year. PCE’s base portfolio is 50 percent renewable and 80 percent carbon free. It began with a few wistful workshops in January 2015, and thanks to the leadership of two county supervisors, David Pine and Carole Groom, took off in true Silicon Valley start-up mode. It was clear that the County meant business as it hired expert consultants and pieced together an advisory committee of dozens of stakeholders from each city and interest groups including labor, schools, and environmental organizations. The County quickly brought everyone up to speed on what kind of power qualifies as renewable, what unbundled renewable energy credits (RECs) are and why they wouldn’t be used, and all the mechanics of smoothly transitioning power purchasing away from investor-owned utilities to local control.

One year in, PCE has 98 percent customer participation, the clean energy has reduced carbon emissions by 56 million pounds, and one of the biggest power users—Facebook—has opted for 100 percent renewable energy. So far, “PCE has contracted for over 300 megawatts of clean, renewable energy from new facilities that are being built specifically to serve our customers in San Mateo County,” said Jan Pepper, CEO of PCE. The process that PCE went through to form and deliver cleaner, cheaper power, with support from all 20 cities in the County, can serve as a blueprint for any other region looking for a similar power shift. And we’re watching it happen all around the Bay Area like dominos.

CCEs won’t just help get to grid-stable 100 percent renewable energy; they can also support communities going carbon zero, provide local jobs, and increase resiliency. How? Here are a few examples.

  • Marin Clean Energy’s microgrid program helped Marin College partner with Tesla to couple solar with 1 MW of battery storage. Energy storage helps smooth out intermittent renewable energy supply, shaves peak demand, and improves community resiliency.
  • Sonoma Clean Power actively promotes electric vehicles (EVs) through Drive EverGreen, which offers deep discounts for EVs, with the largest rebates to low-income households, and free smart charging units that can help balance loads on the grid.
  • Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) helped Antelope Valley Transit transition to a 100 percent electric bus fleet with wireless charging stations. LCE is also aggressively pursuing 100 percent renewable power for all customers to help the City of Lancaster become net-zero carbon.
  • Marin Clean Energy took a local Chevron brownfield site in Richmond and added 10 MW of solar, creating local jobs and a beneficial reuse of a contaminated industrial site.
  • SF Clean Power, which promotes business leadership on clean energy, recently signed Salesforce up for the SuperGreen (100 percent renewable) option, reducing the equivalent carbon emissions of 4 million miles of driving in a typical car. “Salesforce believes that working toward 100 percent renewable energy across global operations is one of the most important things we can do to address the effects of climate change,” said Suzanne DiBianca, Salesforce executive vice president, corporate relations and chief philanthropy officer.

Local government can work closely with CCEs, businesses, and all customers to help transition from fossil fuels to 100 percent carbon-free electricity with ample local energy storage and demand management programs for a resilient grid. The clean energy revolution already started, and it’s coming to a town near you.

A Tidal Wave of Local Clean Energy in California, by Diane Bailey, Rocky Mountain Institute, October 17, 2017.

California May Reach 50% Renewable Power Goal by 2020 — 10 Years Early

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an ambitious law ordering California utility companies to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

It looks like they may hit that goal a decade ahead of schedule.

An annual report issued Monday by California regulators found that the state’s three big, investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. — are collectively on track to reach the 50 percent milestone by 2020, although individual companies could exceed the mark or fall just short of it.

 In 2016, 32.9 percent of the electricity PG&E sold to its customers came from renewable sources, according to the report. Edison reached 28.2 percent renewable power in 2016, while SDG&E — the state’s smallest investor-owned utility — hit 43.2 percent.

California first started requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable power in 2002. Brown and his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, ratcheted up the targets over time. Known as the renewable portfolio standard, the requirement has become one of the state’s most important tools for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.

Brown has touted California’s ability to boost renewable power and lower emissions while growing its economy. Even as President Trump has moved to scale back federal efforts to combat global warming, Brown has been pushing other states and foreign governments to join California.

“We don’t want to do nothing and just sit there and let the climate get worse,” he said Monday by phone from Germany, where he is attending climate talks. “California is all in.”

California’s emissions from electric power generation have declined almost every year since 2008.

The requirement triggered a boom in the construction of solar power plants and wind farms. At the same time, renewable power prices have plunged. The average utility contract price for buying electricity from a large-scale photovoltaic solar facility dropped from $135.90 per megawatt-hour in 2008 to $29.17 in 2016. Wind power prices fell from $97.11 per megawatt-hour in 2007 to $50.99 in 2015, according to the report.

So much solar power now floods the California grid from late morning through mid-afternoon that on many days, there isn’t a need for all of it. But the state is still heavily reliant on conventional power plants burning natural gas, which provide the large majority of California’s electricity during late afternoons and evenings.

The report found that as the renewable power building boom was getting under way, utilities signed contracts with more solar and wind power developers than they needed, expecting many of the projects to fall through.

They also bought more “renewable energy credits” — tradeable certificates generated whenever a solar plant or wind facility produces electricity — than necessary.

In addition, the growing popularity of community choice aggregation projects — in which local governments buy electricity on behalf of their citizens — has cut into the amount of electricity the utilities sell to customers, a trend expected to accelerate. As result, reaching the 50 percent renewable mandate will be easier than anticipated.

California May Reach 50% Renewable Power Goal by 2020 — 10 Years Early, by David R. Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle, November 13, 2017.

California To Invest $1 Billion In Solar For Low-Income Housing Units

Too often, options for going green are reserved for the wealthy. Switching to smart heating systems, solar or wind power oftentimes come with hefty up-front costs. And for those of us who rent instead of own property, installing alternative energy systems is out of the question.

California’s Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program has found a way to mitigate that by reinvesting money raised through the state’s gas cap-and-trade program into solar power for multi-family, low-income housing units.

The solar roofs program was designed in part by solar provider Everyday Energy, a firm serving low-income. Focused on owners of low-income housing units, the bill outfits low-income properties with solar so savings can be passed along to renters living there.

Solar for low-income housing opens up participation in the green economy.

“The purpose of it is to provide affordable housing owners with a rebate that will encourage them to place tenant-benefitting solar on their property so that low-income tenants can participate in the green economy and get a lower electric bill,” Scott Sarem, CEO of Everyday Energy, told Yale Climate Connections.

In addition to reducing electric bills for residents, the legislation provides low-income properties with self-reliance during storms or other natural disasters that may disrupt out the electrical grid. It’s a similar project to one happening now in the United Kingdom; where Netherlands-based Maas Capital has invested £160 million to install solar energy in 800,000 low-income homes.

“In an era where climate change is taking place all around us, resilience becomes a critical need,” Sachu Constantine, director of policy at the Center for Sustainable Energy, told Clean Energy Finance Forum. “We don’t just want to leave low-income communities to the vicissitudes of the market.”

California’s bill is the largest of its kind.

Prior to the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program going into effect in 2016, “only 4 percent of low-income households within the state had been served by the renewable-energy programs,” Waite told Clean Energy Finance Reform. The low-income sector includes more than 450,000 households throughout California. The state is home to more than 9 million low-income people, according to Waite.

“This program employs a tenant-first strategy,” Waite said. “Tenants must receive a direct economic benefit through the utility tariffs that are established. There’s also an avenue for tenant participation and contributions to financing these systems through on-bill financing or on-bill repayment.”

The program is expected to reach renters in more than 200,000 units. California’s governing body has pledged up to $100 million every year for the next four to 10 years.

The key to California’s new bill? Storage. 

Central to the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program is energy storage with battery banks. Storage allows the housing properties to maintain power even when the grid is down—something that can save lives in the event of a dangerous heat wave.

“The initial capital cost of a storage system is about $100,000,” Seth Mullendore, project manager at Clean Energy Group, told Clean Energy Finance Forum. “It’s an 85-percent increase in savings for a 30-percent increase in cost. You can optimize the amount of solar you’re consuming and really hit those peak time periods.”

Those savings get passed along to property owners, but they especially get passed on along to tenants—for whom an extra $50, $100, or $150 a month can make a marked difference in lifestyle.

“I think it’s extremely important to come up with policies that provide enough of an incentive for an owner to act so that the tenants can benefit,” Sarem told Yale Climate Connections.

California To Invest $1 Billion In Solar For Low-Income Housing Units, by Nicole Caldwell, Green Matters, November 1, 2017.

Rebuilding with 2050 in mind, not 1950

An energy perspective on rebuilding after the most destructive wildfire episode in California history

Powerful forces are placing enormous pressure on a fast rebuild of the fire-demolished areas in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. As featured in a recent Sunday edition of the local paper of record, the Press Democrat, the debate about how to rebuild, and how fast or slow has begun. It is a debate that will likely grow. “City officials and most of the City Council have adopted a full-speed-ahead approach…but others are asking whether the city, by moving so fast, might miss its chance to rebuild smarter and safer,” the article states.

It is understandable that the city and county and many residential and business property owners want to clean up and rebuild as quickly as possible. Careful consideration of residents’ and business owners’ needs and wants is imperative. Some kind of process for ensuring that their voices are heard and needs are met as soon as possible needs to happen, as does determining what kind of rebuild occurs over the longer term.

Instead of a slow-down, an expedited process for code revisions and special permitting for the longer term rebuilding is in order to allow for inclusion of advanced 21st century systems and technology in what is rebuilt. The question is: how can we expeditiously rebuild with energy infrastructure optimized for safety and efficiency. Doing so offers a path forward that has a potential win/win dynamic that can favorably address resilience and future emergency response scenarios, in addition to offering advantages on consumer energy costs, energy load management, and more.

Rebuilding with the year 2050, not 1950 in mind means a lot more than under-grounding electric utilities, slapping solar panels on roofs, and making homes electric-vehicle-charging-ready or even adding on-site energy storage to the system. It means integrating all of these technologies and more with the smart sensors and controls, communications tools, and advanced automation that are now available that can do double duty for both early warning of future disasters, early pinpointing of trouble spots, and managing energy generation and demand for cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions.

So, what are we talking about here?

Reports are emerging about microgrids in Sonoma County that were able to keep lights on and water pumps operating when others lost power as a result of the fire. A case in point is the story from our friends at the Stone Edge Microgrid project in Sonoma Valley. Not only were they able to go into energy island mode, they were able to do it remotely. For ten hours while the power was out all around them, using rooftop solar generation and energy storage they were able to stay powered. “By quickly putting the microgrid in island mode in response to the fires…the team learned a lot of lessons it wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Top among them [microgrid engineer Craig Wooster] said: ‘The microgrid did what it was supposed to do.’” I wrote about this now repeating phenomenon briefly in “Preventing the Zombie Apocalypse” in 2013 when the Rocky Mountain Institute pointed out the resilience benefits of microgrids that weathered 2012’s Superstorm Sandy far better than areas of New York that did not have such systems.

The vision for a green energy rebuild with 2050 in mind could look something like this: An all-electric renewables-based clean community microgrid that obviates the need for reconstructing obsolete fossil gas and electric infrastructure, including wooden utility poles, a 19th century technology. Why all electric? Because in Sonoma County our electricity dollars pay for an extremely clean mix of power, thanks to Sonoma Clean Power.

Then, beginning with passive design (taking local environmental conditions like prevailing winds into consideration) of new structures, and including the four key technologies of solar, storage, electric vehicles, smart controls, along with others like electric heat pump water and space heaters would enable the decommissioning of the fossil gas infrastructure.

It is a system where sensors are embedded in key points that allow emergency responders to know what and where the problem is early, instead of relying on an antiquated system that requires someone to make a phone call (Imagine if you needed to get a phone call to know you cut your finger; no, your system just knows and reacts!). Other sensors can be embedded that allow grid operators to communicate with load centers in a two-way mode allowing real-time demand response management. All structures can and should be designed to be zero net energy or even net-plus, producing more power than they consume. Many more dimensions of a smart green energy rebuild can be considered.

Some of these technologies may cost more to include, but the right kinds of programs, financial tools, and incentives can make it possible for these ideas to be low or no cost to property owners. This is where the utilities, local government, PACE providers, Community Choice agencies, local financial institutions, and others can play a critically important role and there are early indications that they are eager to work together to make some of this happen. There are community and system-wide energy, safety, and resilience benefits that can justify the investment. And ultimately this approach will save homeowners money on energy and enhance their own safety.

Of course, in addition to the residents, businesses, and others whose structures burned, many other stakeholders will need to be engaged on this including community based organizations, developers, contractors, energy project developers, systems integrators, and others. Both Sonoma County and Santa Rosa will need to be willing to look at innovative stretch and reach codes and ordinances, innovative building codes that push performance to the next level and that can help facilitate such a vision.

Sadly, the recent firestorms could be the “face of the future” as my colleague Barry Vesser pointed out in the aftermath of the 2015 Lake County wildfires. But out of the ashes of this disaster can be born something new and wonderful. And it could create a new model for other communities to follow who will inevitably be hit by ever-increasing climate calamities. We have an unprecedented opportunity to create much safer, energy efficient (and therefore, cost-saving over time), and resilient communities in the areas that were completely lost. Let’s think seriously about doing that before paving over the opportunity.

Tipping Point for Natural Gas: Huge Project Canceled in California

So … that was fast. US natural gas stakeholders barely had time to congratulate themselves for pushing coal out of the power generation market, and it looks like karma is already getting the last laugh. Low-cost renewable energy is beginning to nudge natural gas aside. In the most recent and striking development, California’s massive 262-megawatt Puente gas power plant proposal has been shelved, perhaps permanently.

Electricity Consumers Push Back On Natural Gas

Silver Strand Beach via City of Oxnard, California

Reporter Ivan Penn of the LA Times has the scoop on the Puente project, and he teases out several powerful forces at work against natural gas.

One key element is consumer pushback. At first glance, the proposal doesn’t seem overly controversial. The proposed plan, a project of NRG Energy, does not involve constructing a new facility. It would have replaced two existing gas units at the company’s existing Mandalay power generation facility in Oxnard, California.

All things being equal, the proposal would provide at least some degree of environmental benefit, because the new units would use 80% less water for cooling than the existing ones.

However, criticism of the new gas project was intense. Penn sums it up: earlier this month, a two-member review committee of the California Energy Commission took the rare step of issuing a statement recommending that the full Commission reject the plans after receiving “hundreds of messages protesting the project as another potential pollution threat to a community already overwhelmed by electricity-generating plants.”

The Rates Are Too Damn High

Aside from concerns about local air quality, Penn also cites an LA Times investigation indicating that the state’s energy policy has over-estimated the demand for natural gas power plants, resulting in artificially high rates:

“The commissioners’ recommendation followed Los Angeles Times investigations that showed the state has overbuilt the electricity system, primarily with natural gas plants, and has so much clean energy that it has to shut down some plants while paying other states to take the power California can’t use. The overbuilding has added billions of dollars to ratepayers’ bills in recent years.”

According to Penn, NRG officials maintain that older plant retirements by 2021 make replacement imperative to build up now.

At current costs, local ratepayers won’t get much relief if old power units are replaced with wind or solar.

My Beach, My Choice

Land use issues and environmental justice issues also come into play. NRG’s Mandalay power generation facility is located on the beach, and as NRG acknowledges, in 2014 the City of Oxnard enacted a moratorium on coastal development.

That complicates development plans within the power plant site, though NRG emphasizes that the final decision rests with state-level regulators.

Among those objecting to the plant from outside the local community is billionaire investor Tom Steyer, who co-authored an op-ed about the proposed facility raising the environmental justice issue:

“…in our state, not all beaches are created equal. That becomes painfully clear if you drive 50 miles north of Los Angeles to Oxnard, where the beaches have been seized by corporate polluters, marred by industrial waste and devastated by three fossil-fuel power plants that sit along the shoreline.

“Oxnard has more coastal power plants than any other city in the state, and not coincidentally, its population is predominantly Latino and low-income….”

Oxnard residents — and no doubt, real estate developers — are looking forward to transitioning coastal property out of industrial use altogether. Here’s LA Times reporter Dan Weikel on that topic:

“Many residents of this predominantly Latino city with a population of 205,000 say they are fed up with the degradation. Their growing dissatisfaction with the condition of large sections of beach has coalesced into an effort to deindustrialize and restore the shoreline of this city that is framed by Ventura and Camarillo and wraps around the town of Port Hueneme.”

So, What’s The Solution?

The Puente project has been suspended, not canceled. However, chances of revival are slim. Although the most recent study affirms that renewable energy is a more expensive choice currently, Steyer points out that the redevelopment of Oxnard’s beachfront could be balanced out by new economic activity related to tourism and recreation.

That opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms, as waterfront development typically drives up the cost of housing, squeezing former residents to outer rims with longer commutes and fewer resources.

Sticking to the energy cost issue, the basic problem comes down to local energy vs. long distance transmission.

NRG makes the case that local energy generation is more reliable. That’s a fair assessment as a general principle, as the old model of centralized power plants falls out of favor. Local and on-site generation is becoming a consensus argument among energy experts, regardless of the power source.

On the other hand, the risk involved in transmitting electricity from remote wind farms and solar power plants could be offset by local storage sites, where the growing microgrid movement would come into play.

New tools for financing energy efficiency improvements could also help tamp down local energy demand and ease the way for a more interactive grid that enables consumers to tweak their electricity consumption to help prevent outages.

Cities like Oxnard can also tap into a growing renewable energy knowledge base that leverages local opportunities for renewable energy development and energy efficiency improvements.

Most of all, the Trump administration’s willy-nilly approach to oil and gas development — for example, a new proposal involving drilling along the Pacific coast — raises the stakes for citizens far outside of the communities dealing with local land use issues, leading to a groundswell of support for alternatives.

Tipping Point for Natural Gas: Huge Project Canceled in California, by Tina Casey, Clean Technica, October 23, 2017.

A Tidal Wave of Local Clean Energy in California

Menlo Spark is an independent nonprofit working to help Menlo Park, California, become climate neutral by 2025. It is working with Peninsula Clean Energy to provide clean energy to San Mateo County. RMI worked as a strategic advisor to Menlo Spark in the early stages of its effort.

A clean energy revolution is quietly washing over California right now with cities choosing cleaner, cheaper power and keeping those investments local. At the epicenter of this transformation is the San Francisco Bay Area, where almost all the cities and counties have either already started or joined, or are planning on creating community choice energy programs (CCEs). CCEs allow the community to choose its energy supplier, often offering electricity with significantly more renewables at a competitive price. It started with Marin Clean Energy in 2010, spread to Sonoma Clean Power in 2014, to Lancaster Choice Energy in 2015, to San Francisco (Clean Power SF) and San Mateo County in 2016, to Silicon Valley Clean Energy in 2017, and then on to Apple Valley and Redwood Coast. East Bay and San Jose CCEs are anticipated to come online soon, completing the circle of clean energy around the Bay. Seven other CCEs are also anticipated so that most of the eligible population in California will soon be served by locally controlled community choice energy (see this map).

Although California’s latest push to go 100 percent renewable statewide through legislation (Senate Bill 100) is delayed, the promise to advance renewable energy and local climate action plan programs is sprinting forward through CCEs. Consider, for example, Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), which completed its San Mateo County launch on Earth Day of this year. PCE’s base portfolio is 50 percent renewable and 80 percent carbon free. It began with a few wistful workshops in January 2015, and thanks to the leadership of two county supervisors, David Pine and Carole Groom, took off in true Silicon Valley start-up mode. It was clear that the County meant business as it hired expert consultants and pieced together an advisory committee of dozens of stakeholders from each city and interest groups including labor, schools, and environmental organizations. The County quickly brought everyone up to speed on what kind of power qualifies as renewable, what unbundled renewable energy credits (RECs) are and why they wouldn’t be used, and all the mechanics of smoothly transitioning power purchasing away from investor-owned utilities to local control.

One year in, PCE has 98 percent customer participation, the clean energy has reduced carbon emissions by 56 million pounds, and one of the biggest power users—Facebook—has opted for 100 percent renewable energy. So far, “PCE has contracted for over 300 megawatts of clean, renewable energy from new facilities that are being built specifically to serve our customers in San Mateo County,” said Jan Pepper, CEO of PCE. The process that PCE went through to form and deliver cleaner, cheaper power, with support from all 20 cities in the County, can serve as a blueprint for any other region looking for a similar power shift. And we’re watching it happen all around the Bay Area like dominos.

CCEs won’t just help get to grid-stable 100 percent renewable energy; they can also support communities going carbon zero, provide local jobs, and increase resiliency. How? Here are a few examples.

  • Marin Clean Energy’s microgrid program helped Marin College partner with Tesla to couple solar with 1 MW of battery storage. Energy storage helps smooth out intermittent renewable energy supply, shaves peak demand, and improves community resiliency.
  • Sonoma Clean Power actively promotes electric vehicles (EVs) through Drive EverGreen, which offers deep discounts for EVs, with the largest rebates to low-income households, and free smart charging units that can help balance loads on the grid.
  • Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) helped Antelope Valley Transit transition to a 100 percent electric bus fleet with wireless charging stations. LCE is also aggressively pursuing 100 percent renewable power for all customers to help the City of Lancaster become net-zero carbon.
  • Marin Clean Energy took a local Chevron brownfield site in Richmond and added 10 MW of solar, creating local jobs and a beneficial reuse of a contaminated industrial site.
  • SF Clean Power, which promotes business leadership on clean energy, recently signed Salesforce up for the SuperGreen (100 percent renewable) option, reducing the equivalent carbon emissions of 4 million miles of driving in a typical car. “Salesforce believes that working toward 100 percent renewable energy across global operations is one of the most important things we can do to address the effects of climate change,” said Suzanne DiBianca, Salesforce executive vice president, corporate relations and chief philanthropy officer.

Local government can work closely with CCEs, businesses, and all customers to help transition from fossil fuels to 100 percent carbon-free electricity with ample local energy storage and demand management programs for a resilient grid. The clean energy revolution already started, and it’s coming to a town near you.

A Tidal Wave of Local Clean Energy in California, by Diane Bailey, Rocky Mountain Institute, October 17, 2017.

Just Published! Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions

Energy Democracy is the first book to show what building an alternative, democratized energy future can look like. It frames the international struggle of working people, low income communities, and communities of color to take control of energy resources and use those resources to empower their communities. Bringing together racial, cultural, and generational perspectives, the book features contributions from leaders of initiatives that range from rural Mississippi and the South Bronx to Californian immigrant and refugee communities and urban and semi-rural communities in the Northeast. It also features a section that focuses on the Community Choice energy movement in California.

Positive early praise of the book:

“This exceedingly important book connects the dots, and shares strategies on how we win on climate, how we win on renewable energy, and how we win on empowering vulnerable communities!”
—Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President, Hip Hop Caucus

“In this marvelous collection, you’ll hear directly from many of the inspiring leaders who have been theorizing, organizing, and laying the policy groundwork for that leap forward—and you might just be moved to join them.”
—Naomi Klein, Author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything

“This is a critical read for those seeking to build a broader movement for economic equity, environmental justice, and planetary health.”
—Manuel Pastor, Director, Program for Environmental & Regional Equity, University of Southern California

If you’d like to purchase a copy from Island Press, which ships worldwide, use the code 4ENDEM, which is good for a 20% discount. You can also order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookseller.

I hope you will consider sharing the book with your own networks. You can help in a few ways:

· Forward this message to your own organizational contacts and members, or share the news on your social media networks. Feel free to include the discount code, 4ENDEM.

· If you’d like to review it for a publication or website, you can request a review copy from press@islandpress.org.

· If you’d like to use it in a class, you can request an exam copy at islandpress.org/request-exam-copy.

· Encourage your organization to ask info@islandpress.org for details about a discounted bulk purchase. Island Press can offer bulk discounts on copies of the book, ranging from 20-50% off based on quantity.

· Review the book on Amazon, Goodreads, or another review site.

· If you have Bay Area contacts, let them know about the book’s launch event at the Clean Power, Healthy Communities 2017 event in Oakland on November 16th.

California State Legislative Summary – 2017

October 15 was the deadline for the Governor to sign legislation and with that deadline now passed, the 2017 session, the first year of a two-year session, has drawn to a close. We tracked several bills directly and indirectly related to Community Choice, as well as several others of interest to the climate, clean energy, and clean transportation communities.

The good news is that although several bills were introduced that might have negatively impacted Community Choice, all of them were either amended favorably or died a natural legislative death. Bills directly affecting Community Choice included SB 618 (Bradford), AB 649, (Dahle), and AB 79 (Levine). Community Choice alarm bells rang early in the session over SB 618, a Bradford bill that as introduced, would have effectively handed control of Community Choice agency (CCA) energy portfolio design to the CPUC. Energy portfolio design is one of the key statutory authorities of CCAs and losing it would be a major blow to all CCAs.

The not so great news is that late in the session a dynamic emerged where two bills relating to regionalization of the California electrical grid AB 726 and AB 813, were amended to include language that would halt the formation of new CCAs. The CCA lobbying forces were able to stop the bills from moving in 2017, but in the process, SB 100, the 100% renewable energy by 2045 bill, was also held up. All three bills became two-year bills, so we can expect a renewed battle in 2018.

Some bills indirectly related to Community Choice but of interest to anyone who cares about the climate crisis and advancing clean energy are in various states of play. This includes AB 262, the “Buy Clean California” bill, was signed by the governor. Two bills by San Francisco’s Scott Wiener, SB 71 (solar mandate), SB 700 (California Storage Initiative), will both come up again in 2018.

Two bills related to the state’s carbon “Cap & Trade” program were introduced, one, the governor-supported AB 398 that extends the current program to 2030, was enacted to the chagrin of many Fee & Dividend activists, while SB 775, widely regarded as a superior revision of the Cap & Trade program, remains as a two-year bill with an uncertain future.

Click HERE for a listing of the bills we tracked with a brief description of what they are or were about, and their status. The bill numbers on the left link to the California’s legislative info page.

The 2018 session begins on January 3rd. For general information about legislation, click HERE. To find your representative, click HERE.

See you in 2018!

Join The Local Clean Energy Alliance’s Clean Power, Healthy Communities Gathering

The Local Clean Energy Alliance is the California’s Bay Area’s membership-based organization working at the local, state, and national level to promote a clean energy future through the development and democratization of local renewable energy resources. The organization is putting on an event next month you won’t want to miss — the Clean Power, Healthy Communities Gathering.

Clean Power, Healthy Communities Gathering

Aiming towards addressing our ever shifting climate change crisis, advancing social and racial justice, and growing sustainable and resilient communities, the Local Clean Energy Alliance partners with environmental, social justice, business, and community groups to advance this full plate of goodness.Local Clean Energy Alliance

There is something to be said about acting at the local level to decentralize energy systems, something energy producers lobby very hard against behind closed doors. If history has taught us anything, it’s that big groups — despite being well meaning — can get bogged down in bureaucracy and fall prey to external lobby pressures.

But by integrating energy demand reduction and local renewable generation, communities can transition to a clean energy economy by increasing local investment, creating family-sustaining clean energy jobs, and improving community health.

The Alliance On The Go

Local Clean Energy AllianceSo far, the Alliance has tackled a few propositions in a grassroots way. For example, it pushed back on Prop 16, which was heavily backed by PG&E in 2010. Proposition 16 would have amended the state constitution to require two-thirds supermajority voter approval before local governments could use public funds or issue bonds to establish or expand public electricity service or community choice aggregation. It was rejected by an approximate 5 point margin. This basically negated Big Energy’s efforts to outlaw local and public energy. The Alliance also led the effort to defeat California bill AB 2145 in 2014, which was yet another utility bill to squash community energy choice. You can read more about it from our fellow writer Roy Hayles here, an article he aptly named “California’s AB 2145 Threatens Community Choice Aggregates.”

The Alliance’s Mission Statement is simple: Promote the development and democratization of local renewable energy resources as key to addressing climate change, advancing social and racial justice, and building sustainable and resilient communities. Simple, sweet, to the point. You can also read a long list of accomplishments the Alliance has achieved here.

The Local Clean Energy Alliance “Clean Power, Healthy Communities” Gathering

The organization has an event coming up that seems worth attending if you’re in the region. The event kicks off at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in Downtown Oakland at 388 9th St, Oakland, CA 94607 on Thursday, November 16, 2017 from 6:00–9:00 pm for its “Celebration of Energy Democracy — 10-Year Anniversary & Book Release Party.” On Friday, November 17, the party continues from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm for the “Clean Power, Healthy Communities Action Conference.”

You can register for the event here.

Local Clean Energy Alliance

Cheers!

Join The Local Clean Energy Alliance’s Clean Power, Healthy Communities Gathering, by Nicolas Zart, CleanTechnica, October 5, 2017.