Stem to Install Energy Storage System at CSU Dominguez Hills

California State University Dominguez Hills selected energy storage firm Stem Inc., after an evaluation of multiple providers to deliver software-driven energy storage services and reduce the university’s energy costs.

Stem is moving forward with construction on a 1 MW, 4.2 MWh storage system to be housed on campus in Carson, California. Combined with an existing Stem storage system at this CSU location, the project will total 2 MW and 6.2 MWh.

The storage systems will eventually be paired with solar power to maximize clean energy generation and enhance the campus’ onsite sustainability plans.

The storage system Stem is operating for CSU will join a network that acts as a “Virtual Power Plant,” delivering flexible capacity for the local utility to help respond to increasingly variable solar generation after the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in the highly-congested West Los Angeles Basin. Stem made history in the fall of 2014 when it was awarded this 85 MW contract—the largest for any behind-the-meter energy storage provider.

Stem to Install Energy Storage System at CSU Dominguez Hills, by Editors, Electric Light & Power, May 16, 2017.

Top Industry Professional Endorses South Bay Clean Power Business Plan!

The latest accolades for our South Bay Clean Power Business Plan come from respected power industry professional, Kent Palmerton.  From 1985 to 2000, Mr. Palmerton held diverse management positions at the Northern California Power Agency NPCA.  After five subsequent years working for Williams Energy and Constellation Energy in Vice`President and Directorship positions, Mr. Palmerton recently completed a 10`year engagement as General Manager of the Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority, a JPA of California Irrigation Districts serving retail electric load in PG&E’s territory. Kent has also been an active participant in the CCA industry: his company Power Choice, Inc. bid and won the right to serve San Francisco’s first CCA initiative, and subsequently bid on several other CCA service RFP’s.  


Click here to read a copy of the endorsement letter.

Top Industry Professional Endorses South Bay Clean Power Business Plan!, by CREATIVEGREENIUS, South Bay Clean Power, May 17, 2017.

 

California Grid Emergency Comes Days After Reliability Warning

CAISO last week experienced its first “Stage 1” grid emergency in nearly a decade, days after Southern California Gas warned that continued restrictions on its Aliso Canyon storage facility could deprive the region’s natural gas-fired generators of enough fuel to avoid blackouts this summer and winter.

The ISO on May 3 issued an emergency notice from 7 to 9 p.m. after grid operators determined that they could not meet load and operating reserve requirements. At the time, load was 2,000 MW above forecast and nearly 800 MW of imports never materialized, compounded by the outage of a 330-MW gas-fired plant.

About 800 MW of demand response was “critical” in meeting grid needs, according to CAISO.

“It was unusual that the issues began developing around the peak, and demand wasn’t ramping down much, but solar was ramping off faster than what the thermal units online at the time could keep up with in serving load,” CAISO spokesperson Steven Greenlee told RTO Insider.

That forced the ISO to dip into reserves and slip below required reserve margins, prompting it to declare a Stage 1 emergency.

“This stage allows us to trigger the demand response interruptible programs, which are managed by the investor-owned utilities,” Greenlee said.

It was the first such emergency notice issued since an extremely hot day in August 2007. In a Stage 3 emergency — the most serious — utilities are warned of load curtailments.

natural gas demand CAISO grid emergency

Relief Well 2 at Aliso Canyon | SoCalGas

While the ISO has drawn no link between the emergency and ongoing constraints within the pipeline system that feeds Southern California’s gas fired generation, the timing was uncanny. The event came less than a week after SoCalGas cautioned state and ISO officials that it might be unable to meet system needs during peak seasons for electricity demand. The gas utility contended that a recent state-directed reliability assessment of its network relied on overly rosy assumptions.

SoCalGas said a prohibition on gas withdrawals from its Aliso Canyon facility and limited injections there might prevent it from responding to gas supply and demand imbalances. The leak at the gas storage facility, discovered in October 2015 and plugged in February 2016, led to increased use of the La Goleta, Honor Rancho and Playa del Rey storage facilities, where reserves are now 40% lower than a year ago.

“The state was lucky this past year to have experienced a mild summer and winter,” SoCalGas said in an April 28 letter to CAISO, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission. “For the upcoming summer and winter seasons, Californians cannot rely on luck, and energy reliability should not depend upon mild weather conditions.”

In response, the agencies have requested that SoCalGas present its findings at a May 22 workshop on summer reliability to be held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“The issues raised by SoCalGas are part of ongoing data requests the joint agencies have made of the utility,” the agencies said in a joint statement. State officials “are working in close coordination to address the importance of natural gas and electricity reliability for Southern California as we look forward to the summer and next winter.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there is a 60 to 70% chance that temperatures will be above normal this summer.

SoCalGas also warned state agencies of safety concerns stemming from operating its pipeline system at maximum pressure. The availability of storage injection capacity reduces the risk of over-pressurization on natural gas lines.

“Operating close to a pipeline’s maximum pressure is a pipeline safety and compliance concern,” the company said.

The natural gas utility said that the state had assumed “perfect operating conditions and optimal market conditions” when asking it to do a recent reliability assessment. This could lead the agencies to be overly optimistic and put gas and electricity supply at risk.

The analysis assumed full utilization of gas receipt points, a theoretical maximum that is not reasonable for operational planning and is dependent on the behavior of suppliers, shippers and customers. An assumed 1.5 Bcfd withdrawal rate would require significantly higher inventory at Playa del Rey and is not possible if storage inventories are not replenished.

The assessment also assumed that Aliso Canyon would not be used this summer, but held in reserve, which the utility said is “not prudent.” The facility’s low inventory, new well configuration and prohibition on injection will likely reduce withdrawal capacity. The assessment also used daily average capacity that does not address hourly customer demand fluctuation, SoCalGas said.

The company also pointed out recent events that increased natural gas demand without warning. In July, high temperatures and humidity pushed up electricity demand and cloud cover limited solar generation, leading to natural gas demand 11 to 25% above plan. Storage withdrawals were needed to handle the variability. In August, a fire in the Cajon Pass affected transmission lines and caused a 25% spike in natural gas demand from generators over a five-day period.

Still, state officials still considered that Southern California’s grid weathered last summer without any major incidents, attributing the success to measures taken after the 2013 shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant, deployment of new energy storage and increased use of automated DR. (See Sandoval: Nuke Shutdown, Auto-DR Aided Aliso Canyon Response.) CAISO also relied on temporary tariff provisions meant to improve schedule coordinating, which FERC last November extended by another year. (See FERC OKs One-Year Extension for CAISO’s Aliso Canyon Gas Rules.)

The fact that one broken pipe at Aliso Canyon led to widespread reliability concerns over an extended time demonstrates the precarious balance between fuel supply and electricity scheduling, weather and unforeseen events with which grid operators must continually grapple.

California Grid Emergency Comes Days After Reliability Warning, by Jason Fordney, RTO Insider, May 8, 2017.

Community Choice Is Transforming the California Energy Industry

Community choice aggregation allows cities and counties in California to group individual customers’ purchasing power for energy.

After decades of dominance by electricity monopolies, California is experiencing the emergence of community choice aggregators, a new type of utility that provides cities and counties the opportunity to choose what kinds of energy to purchase for their needs.

Community choice aggregation allows cities and counties in California (and other states that have enacted it) to group individual customers’ purchasing power within a defined jurisdiction to buy energy. In California, community choice aggregators are legally defined by state law as electric service providers.

These aggregators, or CCAs, have introduced competition into historically protected, investor-owned utility territories. In doing so, they have given eligible California customers a choice of retail energy providers. Since 2010, California communities have established eight CCAs. More than a dozen additional communities are making strides toward switching to CCAs.

“California is headed toward transformation with this rapid development of community choice aggregation programs,” said J.R. DeShazo, principal investigator for a new report by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, part of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “Our report highlights the benefits of CCAs while identifying unresolved policy questions that must be addressed by state regulators.”

According to the report, CCAs in California generally offer a larger share of renewable energy — up to 25 percent more — compared to the investor-owned utility in the same area. “We estimate that these efforts resulted in a total reduction of approximately 600,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2016 — the equivalent of $7.5 million in reductions at the 2016 carbon price of $12.73 per metric ton on the statewide carbon market,” DeShazo said.

CCAs offer greener energy at a competitive price, according to Julien Gattaciecca, Luskin Center researcher and lead author of the study.

“CCAs have recently entered the energy market, allowing them to benefit from a long decline of falling wholesale renewable energy costs,” Gattaciecca said. “Some CCAs also offer larger incentives than their local investor-owned utility to households and businesses that self-generate energy through rooftop solar programs, and some have made the commitment to source energy from local renewable facilities, and directly own local solar facilities.”

DeShazo, who is a professor of public policy at the Luskin School, added: “Community choice aggregation is currently the best policy tool available to cities and counties who want to tailor energy procurement to their community’s preferences. The stakes are high. Regulators are grappling with important policy decisions that could affect the future of the energy market as well as the pocketbooks of Californians.”

With investor-owned utilities facing increasing competition, the study concludes that more choices can only benefit consumers, with the right regulations in place.

“Currently, an important part of the load in California is looking at CCAs,” Gattaciecca said. “The three major investor-owned utilities could see between 50 and 80 percent of their load departing for CCAs or direct access providers by 2025 or 2030.”

The eight operational California CCAs are Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, Lancaster Choice Energy, CleanPower San Francisco, Peninsula Clean Energy in San Mateo County, Apple Valley Choice Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Redwood Coast Energy Authority. Other CCAs expected to launch this year are East Bay Community Energy in Alameda County, Los Angeles Community Choice Energy and Valley Clean Energy Alliance in Yolo County and Davis.

Community Choice Is Transforming the California Energy Industry, by George Foulsham, UCLA Newsroom, May 5, 2017.

Community Choice Is Transforming the California Energy Industry

J.R. DeShazo

After decades of dominance by electricity monopolies, California is experiencing the emergence of community choice aggregators, a new type of utility that provides cities and counties the opportunity to choose what kinds of energy to purchase for their needs.

Community choice aggregation allows cities and counties in California (and other states that have enacted it) to group individual customers’ purchasing power within a defined jurisdiction to buy energy. In California, community choice aggregators are legally defined by state law as electric service providers.

These aggregators, or CCAs, have introduced competition into historically protected, investor-owned utility territories. In doing so, they have given eligible California customers a choice of retail energy providers. Since 2010, California communities have established eight CCAs. More than a dozen additional communities are making strides toward switching to CCAs.

“California is headed toward transformation with this rapid development of community choice aggregation programs,” said J.R. DeShazo, principal investigator for a new report by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, part of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “Our report highlights the benefits of CCAs while identifying unresolved policy questions that must be addressed by state regulators.”

According to the report, CCAs in California generally offer a larger share of renewable energy — up to 25 percent more — compared to the investor-owned utility in the same area. “We estimate that these efforts resulted in a total reduction of approximately 600,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2016 — the equivalent of $7.5 million in reductions at the 2016 carbon price of $12.73 per metric ton on the statewide carbon market,” DeShazo said.

CCAs offer greener energy at a competitive price, according to Julien Gattaciecca, Luskin Center researcher and lead author of the study.

“CCAs have recently entered the energy market, allowing them to benefit from a long decline of falling wholesale renewable energy costs,” Gattaciecca said. “Some CCAs also offer larger incentives than their local investor-owned utility to households and businesses that self-generate energy through rooftop solar programs, and some have made the commitment to source energy from local renewable facilities, and directly own local solar facilities.”

DeShazo, who is a professor of public policy at the Luskin School, added: “Community choice aggregation is currently the best policy tool available to cities and counties who want to tailor energy procurement to their community’s preferences. The stakes are high. Regulators are grappling with important policy decisions that could affect the future of the energy market as well as the pocketbooks of Californians.”

With investor-owned utilities facing increasing competition, the study concludes that more choices can only benefit consumers, with the right regulations in place.

“Currently, an important part of the load in California is looking at CCAs,” Gattaciecca said. “The three major investor-owned utilities could see between 50 and 80 percent of their load departing for CCAs or direct access providers by 2025 or 2030.”

The eight operational California CCAs are Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, Lancaster Choice Energy, CleanPower San Francisco, Peninsula Clean Energy in San Mateo County, Apple Valley Choice Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Redwood Coast Energy Authority. Other CCAs expected to launch this year are East Bay Community Energy in Alameda County, Los Angeles Community Choice Energy and Valley Clean Energy Alliance in Yolo County and Davis.

Community Choice Is Transforming the California Energy Industry, by George Foulsham, UCLA Luskin, May 5, 2017.

Choice in La La Land: LA County community aggregation has California utilities on full alert

The customer movement away from California utilities to alternative electricity providers just took a giant leap ahead.

The state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are concerned as the County of Los Angeles prepares to take over electricity procurement for customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) in unincorporated county areas and 82 municipalities.

When completed, Los Angeles Community Choice Energy (LACCE) will have the biggest customer base yet added to the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) movement.

“LACCE will be the biggest CCA in the state by an order of magnitude and may be the biggest in the U.S.,” said Gary Gero, chief sustainability officer for the County of Los Angeles. “It could eventually serve a million accounts.”

California’s CCA movement has eight operational members representing 1.25 million customers and a projected 2017 load of over 13,750 GWh. Eight more members, including LACCE, are expected to launch this year and more than 20 groups are exploring the concept.

California Assembly Bill 117 of 2002 established CCAs, allowing “customers to aggregate their electrical loads as members of their local community.” The aggregation is done by municipal or county governments. As an alternative to incumbent IOUs, they purchase electricity in wholesale markets and sell to residents and businesses at competitive rates.

Since then, dissatisfied utility customers across the state have turned to CCAs as an option for more local control over their power mix and prices. California’s IOUs, however, argue the CCAs’ cleaner, cheaper generation portfolios unfairly impose costs on customers who do not change electricity providers.

CCA advocates, meanwhile, say that utility stranded costs are the real issue. The debate is coming to a head at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as the state’s investor-owned utilities push regulators to change the rules for departing load compensation.

Dawn Weisz, CEO of the CCA Marin Clean Energy, wants an evidence-based, stakeholder process at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to decide this debate. Weisz, who helped start the CCA movementas an Marin co-founder, says all customers must be treated fairly.

“The methodology to calculate the costs of stranded IOU resources must minimize volumes and maximize value,” she said.

LA County and the CCA movement

Los Angeles County has an average annual energy load of at least 3,000 MW and a 7,000 MW peak load that LACCE aspires to serve, according to a county-commissioned feasibility report written by EES Consulting.

LACCE will supply power and behind-the-meter services while the incumbent IOU, SCE, continues to provide transmission, distribution, billing and customer services.

As dictated by the enabling law, all customers in unincorporated LA County and those customers served by municipal utilities who signed on to the LACCE Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) are part of LACCE unless they opt-out. EES estimated them to be over 30% of SCE’s retail load.

LACCE will expand its service to customers in three phases, according to the feasibility study.

“Phase 1, scheduled to begin in January, is just our 2,000 county accounts in the unincorporated areas,” Gero said. “Around mid-July of next year, we’ll roll service out to about a quarter million commercial and residential customers in unincorporated areas.”

Service will then be extended to the County’s participating municipalities and 1.1 million potential customers in the County in Phase 3. When complete, LACCE is could have retail sales of over 3,800 GWh, and annual revenues of an estimated $180 million.

That would surpass the customer and revenue bases of existing CCAs like Marin, Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) and Peninsula Clean Energy, according to numbers from advocacy group Local Power.

To evaluate expected rates and power mixes for LACCE, EES looked at a 20-year forecast of LACCE loads, customers, and resource options. Major operational and regulatory risks are “manageable” as LACCE moves to higher levels of renewables from SCE’s current 28%, EES concluded.

“No reasonable set of circumstances will result in LACCE’s rates being higher than SCE’s for comparable products,” the analysis found.

LACCE could provide a residential rate of $0.162/kWh for a 28% renewables mix — 5.4% below SCE’s current $0.171/kWh for that portfolio.

A mix of 50% renewables has a projected rate of $0.164/kWh — 4.1% less than SCE’s current rate. The projected 100% renewables rate is $0.182/kWh, only 6.3% above SCE’s current rate and 12% lower than SCE’s estimated rate for its 100% renewables offering.

One of the main reasons CCAs can provide more renewables at lower prices is because the prices for renewables and natural gas are falling, Gero said. The prices for natural gas are at historic lows and renewables are half what they were a year ago.

“That favors new entrants over existing utilities with contracts at much higher prices, he said.

Marin Clean Energy’s Weisz offered an alternative explanation.

“The CCA rate tends to be lower because none of the money goes to shareholders. CCAs focus on buying power at prices that make them competitive,” she said. “That conservative mentality has resulted in lower costs for customers.”

EES also found LACCE can deliver more renewables sooner. California’s mandate requires SCE to be at 33% renewables by 2020. LACEE intends to open its 50% renewables offering this year. It also plans a package of incentives to grow distributed energy resources (DER).

LACCE’s RPS compliance plan would see it increase renewables procurement out to 2036. Credit: LACCE feasibility study (used with permission)

Costs & cooperation

The load shedding that comes from DER will allow the CCA to answer the “$10,000 question for the entire utility industry,” said Gero — whether a utility can keep a diversified, distributed power mix affordable.

The county’s 1.1 million-resident rate base will allow economies of scale “even if we’re aggressive on distributed resources,” he said.

LACCE has no written policy against procurement of coal and nuclear power, but Gero expects guidance to be included in the board’s direction to its soon-to-be-hired procurement specialist.

The LACCE emphasis on local control is expected to deliver $20 million per year in bill savings at the completion of Phase 3. That is expected to create over 200 jobs and over $9.6 million in labor income county-wide. The emphasis on local renewables could produce hundreds of millions of dollars more in economic benefits as well as major emissions reductions.

SCE’s cooperation with the CCA is important because it will continue to send out customer bills with LACCE energy charges and SCE energy delivery charges. Gero sees three reasons why SCE has been and will continue to be cooperative.

First, the enabling law prevents IOUs from obstructing CCAs. Second, California regulation makes energy costs “pass-through” charges on which IOUs cannot profit, he said, so the utility isn’t losing out by not providing hte power.

But more importantly, “SCE sees the role of the utility of the future as a utility services provider, not a power provider,” he said.

The key question for LACCE is the one every load serving entity faces, Gero said. “How do you design an affordable portfolio that assures you keep the lights on 24-7? That’s sophisticated work and the IOUs have been doing this for a while so they know how.”

Before LACCE can address that question, however, it must face the utilities’ question of how to value departing load.

LACCE’s 50% renewables plan would see it diminish fossil (“brown”) resources faster than the RPS compliance plan. Credit:  LACCE feasibility study (used with permission)

IOU ideas about departing load

As LACCE announced it was moving ahead, California’s IOUs filed a Joint Utilities (JU) Application with the CPUC proposing a new approach to departing load.

The Portfolio Allocation Methodology (PAM), they argue, more “fairly” allocates utility resource portfolios between customers who stay with their utilities and those who depart than the current methodology, the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA).

The JU Application was filed following a six-month, CPUC-ordered working group process, according to Christy Ihrig, Communications Director for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

The working group, led by SCE and Sonoma Clean Power, last month filed a Petition for Modification of the existing process. The commission will now either move summarily on the JU Application or open a stakeholder process in response to the petition.

PAM is “urgently needed” so that customers who move to new providers (departing load customers) do not shift costs to customers who stay with their utilities (bundled service customers), according to the JU filing. This will “ensure equal treatment for all customers” and “the long-term viability of customer choice programs in California.”

Because utilities are not financially impacted when customers move to CCAs, it is only bundled service customers who face the higher costs imposed by departing load customers, the filing argues. This is a violation of “the “fundamental principle” of “indifference” in ratemaking affirmed by the CPUC and the legislature.

PCIA, the current methodology, is “fundamentally broken,” the JU filing argues. It “has proved to be controversial, litigious, and fails to achieve the Legislature’s requirement.”

PCIA is based on “administratively-determined estimates of hypothetical future market prices” for utility generation rather than “actual costs,” the utilities argue. This must now be rectified because the cost shift “will substantially increase as departing load increases.”

PAM would incorporate “actual costs and benefits and a true-up process,” the filing reports. It is “transparent, objective, and fully consistent with California law” and should be “expeditiously adopted.”

Caroline Choi, vice president for reguatory affairs at SCE, said CCAs and IOUs “are not in competition for customers.”

But, she added, a periodic adjustment of the costs and benefits of departing load is necessary “as the cost of power in the market changes.”

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Spokesperson Donald Cutler said the IOUs older long-term power PPAs are likely at higher prices than the contracts CCAs are now signing. Under the PCIA, bundled service customers would therefore pay more for renewables than departing load customers.

Based on calculations using actual market prices, CCA customers currently pay about 65% of the costs for the renewables procured for them as PG&E customers, the utility reported. That will cost bundled service customers a projected $180 million in 2017, which could grow to $500 million in 2020.

“The $180 million is everything PG&E will not collect in 2017 from customers who have moved to third party providers so far,” Cutler said. “The $500 million is a projection of what it will not collect in 2020 if projections of CCA growth do not change.”

SDG&E’s Ihrig said that under PAM, each departing load customer would continue to be charged for renewables and other generation that were procured for that customer by the incumbent utility.

“The energy purchased for a departing customer goes with that customer for the duration of the contracts,” she said. “If the new provider supplies more renewables, it would have to charge for that. When the incumbent utility’s contracts expire, the customer pays for energy procured by the new provider.”

 

A 100% clean energy plan from LACCE would rely largely on direct contracts with renewable energy developers, and less on market PPAs. Credit: LACCE feasibility study (used with permission)

CCA ideas about departing load

CalCCA, the CCA trade association, has sketched out alternatives to the PAM and the PCIA. It wants the commission to encourage more prudent procurement and portfolio management by IOUs.

More importantly, said Marin’s Weisz, the methodology used to value departing load should reflect all short and long-term value streams of the existing contracts.

“Things like the hedge value of a contract should be considered,” she said. “The resources have more value than just the spot market price.”

Other options for achieving indifference would be financial mechanisms that allow the IOUs to sell assets stranded by departing load, the association suggested. There may be financial mechanisms that give IOUs adequate cost recovery without imposing undue burdens on CCAs.

Most importantly, the IOUs must be more transparent, CalCCA argued. CCA advocates should not have to bargain for “user-friendly access to contract data.”

“We do not want the utilities’ arguments to be shortchanged but there needs to be a commission proceeding with more discovery and transparency,” Weisz said. “That’s the best way to determine how to minimize costs.”

The CCAs support a proposal in the JU Application for commission-approved disclosure of data, she said. “That is a positive. But we would like them to disclose more information today.”

LACCE’s Gero said the CCAs need to know more about what energy the IOUs have and what they are selling it for before departing load charges can be negotiated. “We can’t speculate. We need to have that information.”

PG&E’s Cutler said the JU filing is a “first step” toward resolving the issue. Moving forward, the CPUC plans to review the proposals for changes to PCIA that came from the joint working group.

“The CPUC will endeavor to establish a proceeding process where all parties feel heard,” said spokesperson Terrie Prosper. “This process could include opening a new proceeding on our own motion if parties feel the utility application is too narrow or eliminates alternative approaches from being considered.”

The CPUC and California Energy Commission are also set to scrutinize the future of retail energy choice, including CCAs, in a special en banchearing scheduled for May 19.

Choice in La La Land: LA County community aggregation has California utilities on full alert, by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive, May 9, 2017.

Epically Awesome Day for South Bay Clean Power at Business of Local Energy Symposium!

On Friday, May 5 at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach the Center for Climate Protection held their 3rd annual Business of Local Energy Symposium – known in the CCA world as the Big Kahuna of CCA.

This year’s opening speaker, California State Senator Ben Allen, who represents the South Bay and Westside cities of Los Angeles County, shared his insights on South Bay Clean Power’s unique approach and our leadership role on CCA in the biggest County in the state:

We appreciate Senator Allen sharing our history together and we proudly accept our grassroots, community leadership role on CCA and our responsibility to make our South Bay Clean Power CCA the progressive model for not only the LA County program, but also the Long Beach Clean Power initiative we started in 2016 and the new Orange County Clean Power initiative we are now heading.

 

 

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California State Senator, Ben Allen (center), the Senator’s Senior District Representative Fernando Morales (left), and Joe Galliani of South Bay Clean Power (right) at the Business of Local Energy Symposium

 

Here are Senator Allen’s complete remarks as captured by Facebook lifestream video:

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South Bay Clean Power’s Working Group Chair, Joe Galliani; with Sonoma Clean Power CEO, Geof Syphers; Angelina Galetiva, of the CAISO Board of Governors; Jennifer Kropke of the IBEW Local 11, SBCP Labor partner and Working Group member; and Jeff Byron former CEC Commisioner.

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At the Business of Local Energy Symposium organized by the Center for Climate Protection. All about Community Choice Energy. Listening to the “Energy Democracy” breakout session with Dolores Weller of the Central Valley Air Quality District, Dr. Gisele Fong of Clean Our Ports, Joe Galliani of South Bay Clean Power, Jessica Tovar of Local Clean Energy Alliance, and Jennifer Kropke of IBEW

 

Epically Awesome Day for South Bay Clean Power at Business of Local Energy Symposium!, by CREATIVEGREENIUS, South Bay Clean Power, May 7, 2017.

Hermosa Beach Residents Still Feeling Burned by Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality dominated the conversation last Thursday when PLAN Hermosa, an update of the city’s General Plan and Local Coastal Program, went before the Hermosa Beach City Council for the first time in a study session.

When Mayor Justin Massey told the standing room only crowd at council chambers that public comment about PLAN Hermosa wasn’t going to take place until around 10 p.m., several members of the crowd became vocal, one yelling “That’s outrageous.” The tone was hostile at times during public comment with one resident asking, “Can we have some decorum in this room?”

Acrimony wasn’t only with the community. Mayor Justin Massey and Councilmember Hany Fangary took aim at Councilmember Carolyn Petty for spreading “misinformation.”

Fangary said he has been attacked at meetings and online because “she decided to convey to people that somehow I was going to vote in a certain way.”

“She exposed me to significant insults and confrontations with my neighbors and friends and my family begin exposed to it. It’s unfair for our colleagues to do that,” Fangary said.

Petty said after becoming a councilmember in 2013 she has been growing increasingly concerned about the “casual manner” that carbon neutrality had been discussed by councilmembers and city staff. She has been a vocal opponent of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a state-governed policy where municipalities can purchase alternative energy supplies such as solar, wind and natural gas power.

“If you see the vote time and time again it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say I see where this is going … I guess me saying it got through to people … they came to the planning commission meeting and they were furious as they should have been because it’s an unbelievable overreach,” Petty said.

Mayor Justin Massey said he always supported incentives to reduce the carbon footprint in the city and was opposed to mandates as well as purchasing carbon offsets. In order to become carbon neutral, the city would need to purchase carbon offsets, which pays for a reduction in greenhouse gases that has already occurred. At a Strategic Planning meeting last year, Massey said eliminating the idea of carbon offsets was “crystal clear.”

“In that Strategic Planning meeting, you told people if that carbon neutrality was a goal, people wouldn’t be able to have barbecues, they wouldn’t be able to have fireplaces, they wouldn’t be able to drive cars that weren’t on an approved list of the city,” said Massey to Petty. “None of that was true. Barbecues and fireplaces aren’t even on the greenhouse gas inventory, so they are not even a source of emissions that we have to concern ourselves with. That was regrettable that you spread that information when it was patently untrue. You spread information about what your colleagues on the council supported that was patently untrue, based on our clear public statements in meetings that you attended.”

Councilmember Stacey Armato said she wanted to clarify a few things about PLAN Hermosa.

“There’s no carbon neutral mandate on our residents, there are no recommendations to purchase carbon offsets, and it reinforces that only owners of private property can designate their own property as historic,” Armato said.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Duclos said the city should focus on paving a way to a “low carbon future.”

At a February Hermosa Beach Planning Commission meeting, residents came out in force voicing their displeasure at “aggressive” mandates to reduce greenhouse gas in PLAN Hermosa, which sets a goal of carbon neutrality by 2020 for the municipality, a top goal for the city since 2013. That means transitioning to energy-efficient options for streetlights, lighting in city-owned buildings and purchasing city electric vehicles. At last week’s PLAN Hermosa meeting, councilmembers expressed their concerns about the 2020 goal. Longer term goals, which are still being debated, include carbon neutrality for the entire community by 2030 or by 2040.

The Planning Commission revised PLAN Hermosa. Instead of the city becoming a fully carbon neutral community by 2040, the language was changed calling for Hermosa to become a “low-carbon community meeting state greenhouse gas reduction goals.” The greenhouse gas emission goal was also aligned with state targets: to reduce by at least 66 percent below 2005 levels by 2040.

Many of the near 40 residents who spoke before the City Council Thursday night repeated those concerns. Several of those against carbon neutrality thanked Petty for being a vocal opponent.

Resident Kent Allen called carbon neutrality an “overreach” of a “leftist Berkeley agenda.”

“The green jihadists are out there doing what they do … this is just a overreach of monumental proportions,” Allen said. “I think the whole thing should be thrown out and I believe, at the very least, we have to live with state mandates.”

Resident Miles Johnson called carbon neutrality “very fanatical” and questioned if the City Council, aside from Petty, cares about the taxpayer.

“You just like to spend our money,” Johnson said.

Monica Fortunato said she and her husband Robert have been referred to as “green jihadists” as well as “eco-morons, eco-elite and eco-tards.” Robert was also called the “energy czar of Hermosa Beach,” according to Monica.

Resident Sheryl Main lamented the lake of civility and decorum during the meeting.

“I think we’re getting some comments that are inappropriate and are misguided and unfortunate,” Main said. “Carolyn, some of that comes from your rhetoric.”

Resident Joan Arias said she expected to be “terrified” by PLAN Hermosa, but that was before she read the lengthy document.

“When I looked at the plan, I thought I would find something that would lock me in my back room and empty my back account,” Arias said. “I found that there was nothing that was going to force me to have solar panels on my house … there was nothing that was going to pry me out of my car.”

There will be two more public meetings focusing on the General Plan. The next meetings will take place May 23 and 31 at the Hermosa Beach City Council Chambers.

Hermosa Beach Residents Still Feeling Burned by Carbon Neutrality, by Michael Hixon, The Beach Reporter, April 29, 2017.

LA County Environmental Report Card a ‘Surprise and a Disappointment’

Researchers at UCLA have spent the past year trying to answer this question: how well is L.A. County doing at saving energy, cleaning up the air and addressing climate change? The answer is: not nearly as well as it thinks.

“Despite tremendous leadership in California and in the region on a wide variety of air quality and greenhouse gas emission reduction issues, we’re seeing in L.A. County that we’re still a C-student,” said Mark Gold with UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

“We thought the grades would have been better than they were,” Gold said. “There has been so much great policy, so many great programs. But to not see that result yet in really tremendous reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions was something that was a surprise and a disappointment.”

The researchers broke the report card into five categories – building energy use, transportation, renewable energy sources, greenhouse gas emissions and air quality – and assigned a grade to each one.

Transportation got the worst grade: C-. L.A. County residents are driving 3.5 percent more than they did in 2005 and taking public transit 6 percent less. Carpooling dropped 24 percent. Diesel sales jumped 16 percent in a single year, between 2014 and 2015, which is not good for air quality and public health because diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen.

Building energy use scored a C. Energy and natural gas consumption in buildings remained constant between 2006 and 2015. Vast energy disparities exist between wealthy and poor neighborhoods: in 2010, richer areas used more than 10 times more energy per capita than the average person, despite living in more energy efficient, newer buildings.

Air quality and human health also scored a C. Researchers noted that the progress made towards improving the South Coast’s worst-in-the-nation ozone, or smog, stalled during the drought. They emphasized the need to continue replacing heavy duty diesel trucks, the largest contributor to smog.

With a C+, efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in L.A. County have been a mixed bag. Some cities, like L.A., have cut theirs by nearly 20 percent below 1990 levels. But most cities in L.A. County have no way of knowing how much their emissions have changed, because only seven of them had climate action plans in 2016 and are not tracking that kind of data.

Renewable energy sources received the highest grade: B. Researchers noted that a handful of L.A. County cities are making progress towards achieving the state’s 2020 goal of getting a third of their energy from renewable sources, including Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and LA. Other cities, like Cerritos, purchased zero renewable energy in 2015. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ recent decision to create its own utility, called community choice aggregation, could enable more county residents to purchase renewable electricity.

LA County Environmental Report Card a ‘Surprise and a Disappointment’, by Emily Guerin, KPCC, April 27, 2017.

Public Energy Programs Save Customers Money — at least in the beginning

Southern California Edison customers looking to cure their power-bill pain might find some relief in Los Angeles County’s new government-run energy program — but the track records of similar public energy efforts show that the initial cost advantage doesn’t last.

From California to Massachusetts, the kinds of community energy programs that L.A. County approved this month lowered electricity bills 5% to 40% when they began.

But after an initial honeymoon period, the savings have tended to shrink.

In many cases, the electricity-cost difference between the old utility and the newer competing public program has declined to a few cents a month on customers’ bills. In some cases, the cost advantage for the new rivals has disappeared altogether.

And California’s investor-owned utilities just tossed another complication into the mix.

Customers who leave the traditional utilities should pay a higher fee for electricity bought on their behalf that no longer is needed, according to a proposal filed with regulators by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric. Increasing the fee included with each month’s bill would further reduce any cost difference.

Still, proponents of the government-run operations, called Community Choice Aggregation programs, or CCAs, contend that they offer benefits to all electricity users beyond cost savings.

How public power works

The public programs replace some of the functions performed by traditional, investor-owned utilities such as Edison.

The government-run operations take on the role of purchasing power as well as developing their own sources of electricity, such as by placing solar panels atop roofs or canopies on parking lots.

In doing so, they compete against the utilities in securing power contracts and finding suitable spots for developing sustainable power projects.

But Edison, SDG&E and PG&E still must collect money from all utility customers to pay for maintenance of power lines, substations and other resources that help make up the electric grid.

“They’re responsible for system reliability,” said Steve Hoffman, a retired president of power company NRG West. “All of those costs are still going to be borne by CCA customers.”

Much of the economic benefit to consumers comes from the utility — government-run or investor-owned — that can secure the best deal and save consumers money.

But there’s an additional benefit: As the government-run energy programs push for more clean energy, Edison and other investor-owned utilities increasingly must consider that consumers might want wider use of solar or wind power rather than fossil fuel sources such as natural gas or coal.

“CCAs do provide pressure on the utilities,” Hoffman said.

How well is public power performing?

About a half-dozen states operate community choice aggregation programs, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island.

In Illinois, utility customers participate in the government programs at a higher rate than in any other state. About 60% of the state’s utility customers are enrolled in community energy programs, down from as high as 80% when the initial savings was a third of the cost at the investor-owned utility.

Illinois offers utility customers broad flexibility to switch between the investor-owned utilities and the government-run programs.

As older, higher-priced contracts ended, investor-owned utilities negotiated better deals that allowed them to offer more competitive prices to retail customers.

“Basically, [the investor-owned utilities] had a high-note mortgage and refinanced it at a lower rate,” said Mark Pruitt, principle at the Illinois Community Choice Aggregation Network.

Chicago was the biggest Illinois town to join the public power push. But only two years later, in 2015, city officials decided to get out of the business of supplying energy and returned about 750,000 households, or about 2 million people, to the investor-owned utility because prices had become more competitive.

Scott Tess, environmental sustainability manager for Urbana, Ill., said the majority of the utility customers in the college town are enrolled in the government program. He said it sometimes is difficult to see savings from month to month because electricity usage and prices fluctuate.

“There are quarters of the year where we haven’t competed as well,” Tess said. “It’s actually hard to see $5 or $10 savings per month. It’s actually year to year that you see the savings.”

Greening the Cape

In Cape Cod, where Maggie Downey runs Cape Light Compact, the nation’s oldest community choice aggregation program, about 65% of ratepayers have stayed with the public energy plan even though it isn’t always the cheapest.

Over the 15 years that the Cape Light Compact has operated, a residential customer would have paid on average about $6.30 more a year for electricity but also would have gotten increasingly clean options, culminating with the recent introduction of a 100% renewable energy selection.

“It brings in more choices,” said Downey, whose program serves 207,000 customers. “We never say we’re the lowest price. If we bought today, the price could change. The price could go up.”

Giving customers the ability to choose clean energy is one of the major benefits of community energy programs, beyond any potential savings, proponents argue.

Marin County’s version

About 255,000 utility customers are part of California’s oldest community energy program that began in Marin County in May 2010. That’s 83% of the eligible customers in the service area.

Over the life of the program, electricity costs for those customers were cheaper than PG&E about 70% of the time.

“Right now, our rates are barely less than theirs,” said Jamie Tuckey, a spokeswoman for the program in Northern California, dubbed MCE . “But it’s less.”

The typical MCE residential customer pays about $97.75 a month for electricity from 50% renewable energy sources such as solar power, which means the program already meets the state’s mandate that utilities get half of their power from clean sources by 2030.

That compares to a typical PG&E customer bill of $98.30 a month for an electricity mix of about 33% from renewable sources, including about 13% from solar.

MCE and PG&E also offer 100% clean energy options. MCE’s 100% clean energy program increases monthly costs by about $4 to a typical residential bill, while PG&E’s comparable program adds about $13.

“We’ve seen their rates reduce. They’re also even offering 100% renewable option,” Tuckey said.

“I think a lot of that,” she said, “is spurred by the competition that CCAs are creating in California.”

Public Energy Programs Save Customers Money — at least in the beginning, by Ivan Penn, Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2017.