Portola Valley Goes ECO100: The First City to Have 100% Renewable Electricity Supply as Default

Portola Valley is the first city in the country to have 100% renewable energy as the default power supply for all customers in its jurisdiction.

All cities in San Mateo County now buy their electric power from Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), a joint powers authority. Peninsula Clean Energy gives customers the choice of ECOplus, a 50% renewable energy option priced just below PG&E rates, or ECO100, a 100% renewable energy option that costs a slight premium.

Portola Valley is one of nine cities in the county that decided to purchase the power for their municipal operations from ECO100, and is the only city that opted to have all accounts – including residential and business accounts – automatically placed into ECO100. According to experts in renewable energy markets, Portola Valley is the first city in the nation to make 100% renewable energy the default supply for all accounts, not just for municipal accounts.

“As a council member for Portola Valley, I voted for ECO100 as a cost-effective approach to meeting the town’s greenhouse gas-reducing goals” said Town Councilmember Jeff Aalfs. “Portola Valley’s action is a model that sends the message that cost-competitive, clean electricity is available and accessible today for all.”

PCE’s ECO100 program is supplied entirely by California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligible power from sources including wind and solar, and does not rely on “unbundled” renewable energy certificates (RECS) for supply. The average household receiving ECO100 will avoid emissions equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 23 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Portola Valley Goes ECO100: The First City to Have 100% Renewable Electricity Supply as DefaultInMenlo, April 21, 2017.

SF’s Green Energy Goal Is a Decade Ahead of Target

Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday set a new goal for San Francisco — that at least 50 percent of the city’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. That’s 10 years ahead of the target the state has set for itself.

“At a time when the federal government is rolling back environmental regulations, we are pushing forward in San Francisco, setting one of the most ambitious clean energy targets of any major city in the U.S.,” Lee said.

San Francisco now funnels electricity through four services: Pacific Gas and Electric Co., CleanPowerSF, Hetch Hetchy Power and direct access providers, where large buildings buy energy from third parties. A total of 44 percent comes from renewable sources, so the city needs an increase of six percentage points to meet its goal.

The city will receive the bulk of that energy through CleanPowerSF, the city-run green energy program that began in May after years of political gridlock and resistance from PG&E. About 40 percent of the electricity provided by the program already comes from renewable sources and will continue to increase. The current mix is 5 percent higher than the original goal of 35 percent, and 10 percent more renewable than energy provided by PG&E. By 2019, CleanPowerSF is projected to provide 400 megawatts of power — enough electricity to power 320,000 homes and businesses.

The program works much like a buyers club for energy. The city purchases electricity for residents, while PG&E delivers that energy on its electrical grid. CleanPowerSF is operating at 60 megawatts and provides electricity to 75,000 residents and businesses. More San Francisco neighborhoods will be auto-enrolled over the next three years.

The wind turbines that dot the hills outside of Rio Vista are an important source, along with solar, of renewable energy. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

The wind turbines that dot the hills outside of Rio Vista are an important source, along with solar, of renewable energy. (Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle)

“That’s a big undertaking,” said Barbara Hale, assistant general manager for power at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “While going from 40 to 50 percent doesn’t sound like a big number, the volume we are applying that percentage to is different. It’s a big change in number of customers. But we don’t expect the extra energy is going to be difficult to get.”

City officials have paralleled their climate goals with the state, which seeks to drop to 1990 carbon dioxide emission levels by 2020. San Francisco had set a goal to reduce the levels by 25 percent by 2017, which was achieved in 2015, despite a burgeoning economy and growing population. The city seeks to achieve a 40 percent reduction by 2025.

“San Francisco is a city that rehearses the future,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “We are trying to be even bolder than the state of California.”

As state and local policy drive the market, the renewable energy economy has flourished. Local green energy programs are up and running in Sonoma and Marin, and prices have dropped. The state Energy Commission estimates that almost 25 percent of electricity came from renewable sources in 2014.

With the growing market comes lower prices and more realistic goals. Seeking to increase renewable power in the city by six percentage points is achievable, said Alice Kaswan, an environmental law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, who has studied renewable energy issues.

“The key question is whether they are talking about generating that amount of renewables or purchasing it,” she said. “There’s a lot of renewable energy being developed in the state. My sense is that, if all they are committing to is purchasing power supplied in that way, it is a very feasible and realistic goal.”

The city should be able to meet the goal, if not surpass it, said Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of its Atmosphere and Energy Program.

“There is so much solar, in particular, and wind as well, available in Northern California to the city, in addition to rooftop solar space available, and many companies chomping at the bit to install the renewables,” Jacobson said. “The cost, job and health benefit of such a transition is so large that the city would be remiss not to take this opportunity.”

Raphael of the environment department also sees forces aligning in favor of clean energy.

“We’ve got a public and business community that wants renewable energy and a city determined to procure renewable energy,” Raphael said. “We have this perfect storm that allows us to beat our goals. That’s what is so exciting.”

The city hopes to have 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. But while political gridlock over CleanPowerSF has passed, battles between the city and PG&E persist. A recent complaint by the company seeks to force the city to upgrade buildings that receive Hetch Hetchy hydropower through PG&E’s transmission lines at a cost of $600 million. City officials maintain it’s an attempt by PG&E to maintain its monopoly. It could take years for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a ruling.

SF’s Green Energy Goal Is a Decade Ahead of Target, by Lizzie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 2017.

Portola Valley Goes ECO100: the First City to Have 100% Renewable Electricity Supply as Default

PORTOLA VALLEY – Portola Valley is one of the smaller cities in San Mateo County, but it’s making its mark with a historic first in green power purchasing. Portola Valley is the first city in the country to have 100% renewable energy as the default power supply for all customers in its jurisdiction.

All cities in San Mateo County now buy their electric power from Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), a joint powers authority. Peninsula Clean Energy gives customers the choice of ECOplus, a 50% renewable energy option priced just below PG&E rates, or ECO100, a 100% renewable energy option that costs a slight premium.

Portola Valley is one of nine cities in the county that decided to purchase the power for their municipal operations from ECO100, and is the only city that opted to have all accounts – including residential and business accounts – automatically placed into ECO100. According to experts in renewable energy markets, Portola Valley is the first city in the nation to make 100% renewable energy the default supply for all accounts, not just for municipal accounts.

“As a council member for Portola Valley, I voted for ECO100 as a cost-effective approach to meeting the town’s greenhouse gas-reducing goals” said Town Councilmember Jeff Aalfs. “Portola Valley’s action is a model that sends the message that cost-competitive, clean electricity is available and accessible today for all.”

PCE’s ECO100 program is supplied entirely by California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligible power from sources including wind and solar, and does not rely on “unbundled” renewable energy certificates (RECS) for supply. The average household receiving ECO100 will avoid emissions equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 23 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

About Peninsula Clean Energy

Peninsula Clean Energy, or PCE, is San Mateo County’s official electricity provider. PCE is a public, locally- controlled community choice energy program that provides all electric customers in San Mateo County the choice of having electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources at competitive rates. PCE’s default option, ECOplus, is 50% renewable and 75% greenhouse gas emissions free, at a generation rate that is priced 5% less than PG&E. PCE’s ECO100 option is 100% renewable and 100% greenhouse gas emissions free. The Peninsula Clean Energy Authority, formed in March 2016, is a joint powers authority made up of the County of San Mateo and all 20 cities in the County. PCE currently serves approximately 300,000 accounts, making it the largest community choice energy program in California.

Portola Valley Goes ECO100: the First City to Have 100% Renewable Electricity Supply as Default, by Dan Lieberman, Peninsula Clean Energy, April 19, 2017.

Peninsula Clean Energy Now Serving All of San Mateo County with Lower Cost, Cleaner Electricity

REDWOOD CITY – Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) became California’s largest community choice energy program this month, as the joint powers authority completed the enrollment of almost 300,000 accounts that are receiving electric generation service. PCE is a joint powers authority of the 20 cities in San Mateo County, and the county itself, set up to sell power to the 750,000 residents, as well as the businesses and institutions, of the region.

Peninsula Clean Energy began service in October 2016, enrolling 80,000 accounts that included all of the small and medium businesses, municipal accounts, and about 20 percent of residential accounts in the county. PCE enrolled 210,000 more customers this month, which is the largest enrollment phase in the history of California community choice programs. The remaining 80 percent of the residential accounts, agricultural accounts, as well as large commercial and industrial businesses, were included in this final enrollment phase. By California law, the community choice provider becomes the default supplier of electricity for its jurisdiction. Customers receive at least four enrollment notifications in the mail, and they can opt out anytime.

Peninsula Clean Energy customers are automatically enrolled in ECOplus, a 50% renewable energy supply that is cleaner and greener than PG&E, and priced 5% below PG&E’s generation service rate. Customers can also opt-up to ECO100, comprised of 100% renewable energy sources and priced at a slight premium to PG&E service. PCE customers see a new line item on their PG&E bill for PCE’s service, along with a corresponding generation credit from PG&E for the energy supply PG&E previously provided.

“PCE is a tremendous value proposition for electric customers in San Mateo County” said County Supervisor Dave Pine, who serves as the Chair of PCE’s Board of Directors. “Every electric customer countywide now has access to lower-cost, cleaner power. In total, we’re savings millions of dollars and avoiding millions of tons of carbon emissions.”

“We are taking a fiscally conservative approach” said CEO Jan Pepper. “We put 5% of revenues in a rate stabilization fund, and because we’re a non-profit, we put all excess funds toward local energy programs that will help build the clean tech economy and provide local jobs here in San Mateo County. Our procurement strategy will lead to long-term price stability for our customers.”

The average household receiving ECOplus will avoid emissions equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 10 tree seedlings grown for 10 years. Notably, PCE recently completed the largest solar contract ever signed by a community choice energy provider, purchasing the entire output of a to-be-built 200 megawatt solar farm in Merced County for 20 years.

About Peninsula Clean Energy

Peninsula Clean Energy, or PCE, is San Mateo County’s official electricity provider. PCE is a public, locally- controlled community choice energy program that provides all electric customers in San Mateo County the choice of having electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources at competitive rates. PCE’s default option, ECOplus, is 50% renewable and 75% greenhouse gas emissions free, at a generation rate that is priced 5% less than PG&E. PCE’s ECO100 option is 100% renewable and 100% greenhouse gas emissions free. The Peninsula Clean Energy Authority, formed in March 2016, is a joint powers authority made up of the County of San Mateo and all 20 cities in the County. PCE currently serves approximately 300,000 accounts, making it the largest community choice energy program in California.

Check out the full release by clicking the link below. 

Peninsula Clean Energy Now Serving All of San Mateo County with Lower Cost, Cleaner Electricity, by Dan Lieberman, Peninsula Clean Energy, April 19, 2017.

MCE and Cenergy Announce Local and Union Labor Plan for New Solar Construction

Subcontractors Shortlisted to Provide Jobs to Build MCE Solar One

RICHMOND, CA – MCE has partnered with solar developer Cenergy Power to build the largest publicly-owned solar project in the Bay Area, MCE Solar One. The 49.5 acre, 10.5 MW ground mounted solar farm in Richmond will support 341 jobs and provide power for 3,417 homes per year.

The City of Richmond and MCE committed to a 50% local hire requirement to build MCE Solar One, guaranteeing local benefits through clean energy job creation. Representatives from the City of Richmond, MCE, Cenergy and RichmondBUILD met last week to announce the local labor plan.

The following subcontractors have been formally shortlisted to work on the MCE Solar One project, expected to employ workers for an estimated 69,000 man hours with 60% or more expected to be provided through union labor and 50% or more through local labor.

Contractor

Location

Union

Overaa Construction

Richmond

UBC (Local 152) and Laborers Union

Net Electric

Richmond

IBEW (Local 302) and Laborers Union (Local 324)

Newtron Group, Inc.

Martinez

IBEW (Local 302), Laborer’s Union (Local 324) and Lineman’s Union (Local 1245)

Contra Costa Electric

Martinez

Laborers Union (Local 324), IBEW (Local 302), Linemen’s Union (Local 1245) as well as the Steamfitters and Pipefitters Unions

Goebel Construction

Richmond

Laborers Union (Local 324), Operating Engineers (Local 3) and Steamfitters (Local 342)

Russel Pacific

Monterey

N/A

MCE also funds programs that provide local, working class residents with green collar job opportunities beyond the minimum wage economy that pay living wages and provide benefits. One such program that MCE partners with, RichmondBUILD, will train and hire local residents to provide labor for MCE Solar One.

“In today’s economic climate where many struggle with the rising cost of living in the Bay Area, MCE is committed to helping retain the diversity of our community by supporting the development and training of our local talent,” said MCE CEO Dawn Weisz. ”The Bay Area has a rich history of industrial labor and we believe those jobs can continue to thrive as they evolve into the cornerstone of California’s new, green economy.”

Cenergy Power’s CEO, William Pham, echoed similar sentiments. “The Solar One project will be a showcase of MCE’s commitment to local communities in its service area, and we are looking forward to working with the City of Richmond and our local workforce on this project.”

Beyond MCE’s local efforts, the 2,800 in-state jobs and 1.2 million union labor hours provided by its 24 new California renewable energy projects have built the structures that will help the state reach its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. The increased demand for non-polluting, renewable resources that MCE and its sister agencies are creating not only impact our environment for the better, it truly changes lives every day.

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AboutMCE: MCEisanot-for-profit,publicelectricityproviderthatgivescustomersthechoiceof having 50% to 100% of their electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal and hydroelectric at competitive rates. MCE provides service to 255,000 California customers in Marin County, Napa County and the cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, Lafayette, Richmond, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek. By choosing MCE, customers help support new in-state and local renewable energy projects and jobs. For more information, visit www.mcecleanenergy.org

About Cenergy: Cenergy Power is a leading solar developer focused on the utility, agriculture and commercial markets throughout the United States. Cenergy is comprised of seasoned professionals in the areas of engineering, construction management and project financing. Solar Power World, a leading industry publication, has consistently ranked Cenergy among the top 10 commercial solar providers in the nation. For more information visit www.cenergypower.com

MCE and Cenergy Announce Local and Union Labor Plan for New Solar Construction, by Jamie Tuckey, MCE, April 17, 2017.

OP-ED: Peninsula Clean Energy Now Serving Entire County

A quiet, growing clean-power movement has been gaining momentum in San Mateo County over the past few years and this month it will benefit all San Mateo County residents. That movement is led by Peninsula Clean Energy, the new default electricity supplier for San Mateo County. PCE began enrolling customers in October, and by the end of April almost 300,000 customers countywide — from residents to tech companies to your local library — will be receiving electricity from PCE. This is good news for our county as we will all be receiving cleaner power at lower rates.

Peninsula Clean Energy is a joint powers authority comprised of the county of San Mateo and all 20 cities. The governing boards representing these jurisdictions all took action to join PCE without a single dissenting vote. Why? Because PCE allows each city to make substantial progress toward meeting their climate action plan goals, provides cleaner power at competitive rates, and will invest in local clean energy projects and programs. The county and each city has a representative on PCE’s board of directors which holds monthly public meetings. This local governance structure ensures public transparency and accountability.

PCE is the fifth Community Choice Energy program to launch in California. Community Choice Energy allows local governments to procure energy for their residents and businesses while power delivery, grid maintenance, metering/billing and customer service functions remain with Pacific Gas and Electric. Under this program, PCE is the default provider of electricity in San Mateo County and customers are automatically enrolled. However, customers always have the clear and simple choice to “opt out” at any time and return to PG&E service.

Peninsula Clean Energy is providing customers with cleaner power than PG&E, and at rates that are approximately 5 percent less than what PG&E currently charges. The default product, ECOplus, contains 50 percent renewable energy, 25 percent carbon free large hydropower and 25 percent system power (typically from natural gas plants). PCE customers are also given the choice to opt up to ECO100, a 100 percent renewable energy option, for a slight premium. Customers receive four written notices in the mail describing their options, and PCE is actively reaching out to local residents to build awareness of its new program.

All residents currently enrolled in discount programs such as CARE or medical baseline automatically continue in these programs with PCE. In addition, PCE offers an electric vehicle rate that’s more affordable than PG&E’s, and its solar net metering rates are more generous than PG&E’s. PCE customers also continue to qualify for all PG&E energy efficiency programs.

PCE is run by a small team of seasoned energy professionals. Its CEO, Jan Pepper, has more than 30 years of energy and utility experience with a focus on renewable energy contracting and financing. George Wiltsee, PCE’s director of Power Resources, also has been in the energy and utility industry for more than 30 years and spent the last nine years at Southern California Edison where he procured much of its renewable portfolio.

The timing is excellent for procuring clean power as costs for solar power are at historic lows and can now beat fossil fuel prices. In fact, PCE just signed a 20-year contract to procure 200 megawatts of power at very attractive rates from a new solar farm that will be built in nearby Merced County.

Peninsula Clean Energy is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and offering customer choice at competitive rates. We’re excited about what Peninsula Clean Energy has to offer and hope you are too. Please contact PCE’s staff or any of your PCE board representatives should you have questions or concerns. And please visit the PCE website at peninsulacleanenergy.com for more information.

Dave Pine and Carole Groom are members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and also serve on the board of directors of Peninsula Clean Energy.

OP-ED: Peninsula Clean Energy Now Serving Entire County, by Carole Groom and Dave Pine, The Daily Journal, April 18, 2017.

Cotati opposes SB 618

Cotati’s City Council has penned a letter in opposition to California State Senate Bill 618, which would shift the decision making authority on power contracts from locally elected officials to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The shift in power would be done by the transferring of authority of electricity supply contracts and customer programs from the local Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Board of Directors to the CPUC.

The CCA currently serving Cotati is Sonoma Clean Power. Back in 2002, Assembly Bill 117 established a local government’s right to implement a (CCA) by allowing communities to pool or aggregate the electric load of their residents, businesses and other institutions in order to procure and generate electricity on their behalf. Since then, all cities in Sonoma County have joined SPC.

Senate Bill 350, passed two years ago, required the CPUC to adopt a process for CCAs and electric service providers to file an integrated resource plan (IRP). It further stated that CCAs must submit its IRPs to the CPUC for certification. Sonoma Clean Power supported these requirements because it did not remove its ability to meet the needs of the community when procuring electricity.

“The majority of our citizens have elected to receive their electricity from SCP rather than from a for-profit Investor Owned Utility (IOU) that has a legal obligation to maximize profits for their shareholders,” stated the letter, signed by Cotati Mayor Susan Harvey. “SB 618 is unnecessary and completely dismisses the purpose for creating CCAs. SB 618 would remove our ability to procure electricity at the local level and instead treat us as if SCP is an IOU.”

Sonoma Clean Power was established with the intent of advancing local priorities that included procuring GHG-free renewable energy beyond the renewable portfolio standard, providing ratepayers with energy choice and providing competitively priced energy.

Harvey said in the letter Sonoma Clean Power is performing up to expectations.

“SCP has consistently delivered lower emissions electricity at lower costs than PG&E,” she said. “Why would the Legislature want to change a very successful program by increasing costs and removing local control?”

Cotati opposes SB 618, by Dave Williams, The Community Voice, April 7, 2017.

Sun Raining Jobs on Oakland, Richmond

The sun has been creating more jobs than before: Solar jobs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties increased in 2016, according to The Solar Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that advances solar energy use.

According to a report that the foundation released in March, the number of solar jobs in Contra Costa County rose to 1,966 in 2016, an increase of 71 percent compared to the previous year. In Alameda County, the figure rose 60 percent to 2,763 jobs. The study defines solar jobs as those in the construction and installation of solar equipment, as well as non-installation jobs such as manufacturing, sales, distribution and project development.

Overall, these counties, together with three others in the Bay Area—San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties—saw solar jobs increase by 67 percent to 26,046 solar jobs in 2016 compared to 2015. In its report, The Solar Foundation said that California is the top state in the nation for solar employment, as the state created more than 100,000 jobs, which paid more than $16 billion in salaries and benefits last year, a 32 percent increase from 2015.

In Richmond, sunlight is now more valuable than in most other cities, said Alex DiGiorgio, a “green collar” worker. Green collar jobs, DiGiorgio said, mean “any career that is working towards improving environmental quality,” whether that’s installing solar panels, performing energy efficiency retrofits or designing a plan to let the community know about renewable energy, which is what he does for local renewable energy supplier Marin Clean Energy.

“My team and I work with local leaders and community groups to develop a comprehensive and customized outreach plan, so that we can make sure everyone knows about new renewable energy options that they didn’t have before,” he said. Marin Clean Energy options range from 50 percent to 100 percent renewable energy from wind, solar and carbon-free resources, as well as conventional sources of energy.

“Richmond was the first community outside of Marin to join MCE. It was really a unique and beneficial partnership because by joining MCE, Richmond was able to access more renewable options for energy,” said DiGiorgio. “Richmond has a lot more control now over energy decisions.”

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt sits as the vice chair on Marin Clean Energy’s board of directors. The board, Di Giorgio said, includes elected leaders who approve rates, programs and policies. “So a lot of times, the program is described as ‘energy democracy,’” he said.

Berkeley-based The Rising Sun Energy Center is another organization that has worked to promote clean energy in Northern California since 2000. The renewable energy education center offers programs that aim to fight the effects of climate change, and provides economic opportunities to those who need it by organizing green jobs training.

“We are very excited about the potential of solar employment. Solar installation jobs have become good, stable, living wage opportunities for the low-income and underrepresented communities we serve,” said Abbey Leonard, director of development and marketing for the Rising Sun center. Participants in the center’s training programs include people of color and women who want to work in industrial trades.

“We’re heartened to see local solar companies begin to make progress in creating opportunities for under-served communities and see the value in investing in a diverse workforce,” said Leonard.

But the solar industry doesn’t only create jobs. According to The Solar Foundation’s economic impact report for last year, “One solar-related job supports 1.36 jobs elsewhere in the California economy, while every $1 spent on solar generates an additional $0.94 in spending throughout the state.”

Alexander Winn, program director at The Solar Foundation, wrote in an email that this means that solar jobs added $26.6 billion to the gross domestic product for California in 2016, and that additional spending power and economic activity supported these other jobs.

Winn wrote that the rise in solar jobs boosts the US economy overall. “In 2016, one out of every 50 new jobs created in the US was a solar job. Specifically in California, solar workers represent one out of every 392 people in the whole state,” he wrote.

Competitive solar pricing and strong demand are the critical factors in the growth of California’s solar workforce, according to Winn. “While greater customer awareness has bolstered sales and attracted new solar users, the key driver behind increased installations is the dramatic drop in the cost of solar since 2010,” he wrote.

In 2016, California installed 5,060 megawatts’ worth of solar equipment, up 123 percent from 2015, according to Winn, and the state’s total installed capacity ranked first in the United States at 17,048 megawatts.

The increase in solar jobs has a huge positive impact in communities across Alameda and Contra Costa counties, said Mara Ervin, program manager at GRID Alternatives. “GRID Alternatives is based in Oakland and provides no-cost solar to households in Contra Costs and Alameda Counties at or below 80 percent of area median income,” Ervin wrote in an email. “This year, we plan to install for 170 low-income households throughout the Bay Area in addition to completing a few larger-scale projects to benefit low-income renters.”

But Ervin wrote that while the declining cost of solar equipment has helped spur growth in the industry and in hiring, there remain many barriers to entry for low-income communities in adopting large-scale solar energy. Women, people of color and veterans are still underrepresented in the industry, she said. “We hope to see the industry continue to expand employment,” Ervin wrote.

And there are some other growing pains as the state adapts to the increased use of solar energy. “The most pressing challenge is managing times when we have more electricity being generated than can be used. As energy can’t be stored in large amounts at this time, it has to be used almost instantaneously upon being produced,” said Steven Greenlee, spokesperson for the California Independent System Operator, or ISO. ISO is the nonprofit organization charged with managing the state’s power market and transmission system. It is also developing techniques to manage the state’s power grid, turning the old grid into a modern, flexible system.

Greenlee said the wholesale market keeps energy supply balanced with demand. “At this time, this almost always works to reduce generation output and balance the system; only rarely do we have to manually intervene in the market and arbitrarily order plants to shut down,” he said.

“But we are expecting that the state’s utilities will procure about 15,000 megawatts more of renewable resources by 2030 in order to meet the Renewables Portfolio Standard, which says the utilities must buy renewables to cover 50 percent of their retail power sales by 2030,” Greenlee continued.

With this expected rise in renewable resources—a potential disruption to the supply–demand balance, Greenlee said two of the solutions are finding demand to use the excess energy and developing technologies for energy storage. “In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission is exploring how to modify time of use rates to incentivize power use during excess energy times, which now mostly occur during the mid-morning to early afternoon hours,” said Greenlee.

While it could be true that there may be glut in solar energy, DiGiorgio of Marin Clean Energy said the focus should be on the nature of the supply. “We want to make sure that that the supply is as renewable as possible. It has to be most cost-effective and has the least carbon impact,” he said.

Meanwhile, environmental organizations are continuing to press Bay Area cities to transition to using more renewable energy. Locally, the Sierra Club has been working with city leaders in Oakland and Richmond to encourage them to join the list of cities transitioning to 100 percent clean energy.

In a press release issued on March 28, Sierra Club leaders wrote that both cities are “well positioned to do so” because Richmond is a member of Marin Clean Energy, while Oakland is joining power supplier East Bay Community Energy. The Community Choice program Marin Clean Energy creates clean energy jobs by developing local renewable energy infrastructure, while East Bay Community Energy is slated to invest in local renewable facilities and provide clean energy jobs to residents of Alameda later this year.

Luis Amezcua, chair of the executive committee of the Sierra Club Northern Alameda County, said the solar industry has the potential to create jobs from the development of renewable resources, such as electric vehicle infrastructure and new generation facilities. “We are working with both cities and the communities to get a commitment,” Amezcua said.

Sun Raining Jobs on Oakland, Richmond, by Aileen Macalintal, Richmond Confidential, April 14, 2017.

Community Speaks up for Community Choice at California Public Utilities Commission Meeting on April 6 in Santa Rosa

Half of the thirty-two people who spoke at the April 6 meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission spoke in support of Community Choice Energy and/or Sonoma Clean Power. A strong showing of support for Community Choice.

Ann Hancock noted the auspicious nature of the location, Santa Rosa City Council Chambers, as being the location of the first official vote of support for climate action in December 2001. Many actions followed, including identifying Community Choice as the most powerful tool available to local governments to reduce greenhouse gases. Noting her excitement about the growth of Community Choice over the past few years, she urged the Commission to foster a level regulatory playing field for Community Choice vis a vis the big utilities.

Geof Syphers of Sonoma Clean Power thanked the Commission for directing them to work with Southern California Edison and other stakeholders on the exit fee issue. Exit fees are fees charged to Community Choice agencies for power that was purchased on behalf of customers by the big utilities who no longer receive that power. Mr. Syphers noted that although he has concerns he is “more optimistic than any time in the past” that a good resolution will be found.

Bob Williamson, an early opponent of Community Choice who has served on its citizens’ committees since the early days, and who seems to have come around to support Community Choice, also addressed the troublesome exit fee issue. Acknowledging the underpinning rationale for exit fees, Williamson asserted that “for your own [CPUC] credibility the [fees] should be logical and clear.”

Julien Gervreau of Jackson Family Wines stated that they have been a happy customer of Sonoma Clean Power since its inception in 2014 and that their “bills have decreased 5-8 percent” as a result. He went on to say that the presence of SCP has enabled the winemaker to offer “a higher quality, more sustainable product.” He urged the Commission to continue its support of Community Choice in California.

The Commissioners have varying degrees of understanding and support for Community Choice. Two of the members are recently appointed and so are on a steep learning curve on a wide variety of issues, including Community Choice. None of the Commissioners live in a Community Choice service territory, so they all lack that benefit of first-hand experience that we in Sonoma County enjoy. President Picker has expressed concerns about Community Choice, so it is important that he and all of the Commissioners hear from folks who have experienced the benefit of being a customer of a Community Choice agency.

Much appreciation to all those who came to stand up for Community Choice!

Watch the entire video here: http://www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc/voting_meeting/20170406/

Community Speaks up for Community Choice at California Public Utilities Commission Meeting on April 6 in Santa Rosa, by Woody Hastings, Center for Climate Protection, April 11, 2017.

Green Electricity: County Edges Closer To Community Choice

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — The residents of Contra Costa County will soon have the option of buying electricity from largely renewable sources, outside the current supply offered by PG&E.

The Board of Supervisors received a report onTuesday from consultants hired to study the options available to the county and 14 of its cities for so-called community choice programs.

The programs, allowed under a 2002 state law, allow cities and counties to set up nonprofit government entities that produce and procure electricity from sources other than PG&E and sell it to local consumers.

The supervisors were offered three main options: to set up their own community choice program with the cities, to join one already in existence, or to continue the current relationship with PG&E.

“They said they were more interested in joining one of the existing organizations,” said Jason Crapo, deputy director of the county’s Department of Conservation and Development.

Now, the supervisors must decide which group to join.

One option is Marin Clean Energy, which currently provides power to five Contra Costa County cities, all of Marin and Napa counties and the city of Benicia.

The other choice is Alameda County’s East Bay Community Energy.

Both organizations, like nearly all community choice programs, offer different levels of renewable electricity supply portfolios, Crapo said.

Most offer a standard product that is similar to or slightly more “green” than PG&E’s electricity supply, at prices similar to what PG&E customers now pay, Crapo said.

They also generally offer a 100-percent renewable option, which tends to be more expensive than standard electricity supplies.

“One of the key motivations is to have (the electricity supply) be more environmentally friendly, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Crapo said.

Also, cities and counties tend to like the idea because they are allowed to build renewable power supply plants locally, providing jobs and other economic development opportunities, Crapo said.

Both Marin Clean Energy and East Bay Community Energy have expressed interest in building solar or other types of plants in Contra Costa County.

The supervisors are expected to make a final decision at their May 2 meeting.

— Bay City News

Green Electricity: County Edges Closer To Community Choice, by Staff, Patch, March 29, 2017.