Advocates Push for Clean, City Run Energy Program in San Clemente

Renewable energy advocates are urging South Orange County cities to consider implementing a Community Choice Energy program (CCE) to bring cleaner, more affordable energy to local residents and businesses, while giving cities local purchasing power for electricity.

So far, more than 160 cities and 19 counties across California have formed their own CCEs, a nonprofit program that allows a city, county, municipality or any combination of those entities to aggregate residents’ buying power and purchase energy on their behalf.

However, local advocates of South Orange County Community Choice Alliance (SOCCCA) say Orange County has been slow to the take on the initiative, compared to the rest of the state.

“Orange County has been behind other counties and cities in California to pursue community choice energy,” said Selene Lawrence, a San Clemente resident who is director of government affairs at Sullivan Solar Power and a SOCCCA advocate. “While Northern California was an early leader, adopting Community Choice Energy over a decade ago, Central California, Los Angeles and San Diego regions are pursuing the same benefits by implementing programs as well.”

Solana Beach was one of the first cities in Southern California to develop a fully operational CCE, which it did in June 2018.

The city of San Diego hopes to have its CCE program operational by 2021, with goals of lowering energy rates for residents and running on 100% renewable energy by the year 2035, 10 years earlier than the state requires.

The coastal cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Del Mar have banded together and are reviewing a potential program. Los Angeles County just launched “L.A. Clean Power Alliance,” a county-wide CCE program that cities can opt into, and San Diego County is also looking into it.

Local resident Tyler Boden, a SOCCCA advocate and Sullivan Solar Power project developer, said there was talk among San Clemente City Council members last year about implementing the program into the city’s climate action plan. In November 2018, councilmembers unanimously voted to proceed in investigating a CCE, but he said not much has been done since then.

SOCCCA is asking the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano to consider the CCE program that they say could ultimately save residents a minimum of 2% on their energy bills.

Right now, San Clemente residents get one electric bill in the mail, and it’s from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), which has monopoly in San Diego and South Orange County.

A bill passed in 2002, Assembly Bill 117, made CCEs a viable option for California cities that wanted to take back the buying power from investor-owned utilities and be able to purchase electricity for their own residents.

Meanwhile, residents have a choice over their utility company and can opt out of a CCE at any time.

As for the benefits of a CCE, the advocacy group SOCCCA is saying there are many.

“CCEs are more incentivized to buy clean energy,” said Lawrence. “It allows cities to meet their own climate action plan goals while lowering rates for residents and businesses, as well as lessening local pollution and reducing the city’s carbon footprints.”

Another reason, she said, is CCEs are nonprofit entities, whereas SDG&E is investor-owned and has to tack on a profit margin to its energy bills. “A city isn’t beholden to shareholders like SDG&E is, so cities with CCE programs can offer lower rates and create programs that reinvest and benefit the community.”

Community Choice Energy is a partnership between a city or cities and a utility. Cities can then form a joint powers authority (JPA) to purchase the power supply at a negotiated rate, while the utility company continues to deliver electricity over the power lines and handle billing.

Boden said CCEs allow cities to choose where their energy comes from, and investing in renewable energy ultimately pays for itself.

“If we engage into a long-term contract for renewables, those would pay for themselves over a period of time, and once it’s paid for, it will continue to generate power. So, in the longer term, it allows for a region to be completely self-reliant on its power. It’s not only generating more power at a lower cost to residents, but it also allows for resiliency,” said Boden.

Resiliency would translate as a benefit in the extreme case that a catastrophe or blackout occurred, he said.

“Theoretically, South Orange County could be resilient, generating and storing its own power on a micro grid,” Boden said.

In addition, surplus profits that would otherwise go to shareholders could instead be invested into programs that are tailored to the local community, advocates say.

The local advocates say San Clemente’s first step would be to conduct a feasibility study. At a price range of $60,000 to $100,000, the study would determine potential savings for residents and provide an estimate on start-up costs for the implementation of the program.

To keep costs down, Boden said the three cities could do a shared study. In March, SOCCCA held a workshop attended by several local councilmembers from the three cities.

“Our effort has been to try to advocate to our city staff and city council electives in each of the cities to try to talk to each other and come together to do a shared study,” said Boden.

Advocates are hoping San Clemente will move forward in an effort they see as a win-win.

“All of these CCEs are saying this program is so beneficial. It’s low risk. It has so many benefits for the community,” said Lawrence. “It’s changing the way that we can meet our own climate goals, city and state-wide. It’s such an important step if we really are serious about moving toward 100% clean energy, which we need to do.”

 

Advocates Push for Clean, City Run Energy Program in San Clemente, by Cari Hachmann, San Clemente Times, June 6, 2019.

Clean Power Alliance: Strategic Plan Launches

Clean Power Alliance is launching its Local Programs Strategic Plan process with an inaugural workshop in Downtown Los Angeles. 80-100 community stakeholders across Los Angeles County are expected to come participate in an interactive workshop focused on energy and electrification measures. A second Ventura County based workshop in July and a tri-lingual online survey are also planned.

The innovative new electricity provider for 31 cities across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, which launched in 2018 already has demonstrated a strong commitment to renewable energy and local control. Clean Power Alliance’s vision of a clean energy future also translates to developing future programs for the community now that the enrollment of approximately 1 million customers is nearly complete.

Following the trend of other statewide customer choice aggregation (CCA) utilities’ practice of reinvesting money back into customer programs, Clean Power Alliance has initiated a process to guide its future programmatic investments. The strategic plan will guide the next five years (2020-2025) of investment and include a six-month stakeholder engagement process and rigorous study of existing CCA and utility programs. Other CCAs have initiated customer programs that promote electrification of transportation and buildings, low-income solar incentives, and new rates that help promote conservation.

The intended outcome will be a transparent decision-making process and comparative tool for how to prioritize future programs that could save customers money while achieving community goals such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting climate resiliency, reaching underserved communities/customers, and creating jobs. Those interested in attending may RSVP here.

 

WHENTuesday, June 18th, 2019, 1-3PM

WHERE: Ground Floor Auditorium, 555 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

PARKING: Street parking is available for media at Pershing Square directly across the street.

 

Clean Power Alliance: Strategic Plan Launches, by Aaron Huelsman, The South Pasadenan, June 6, 2019.

Peninsula Center Library to be powered by 100% clean energy in 2020

The Peninsula Center Library, in Rolling Hills Estates, will be powered by 100% renewable energy in 2020, increasing its reliance on the Clean Power Alliance energy provider.

The Palos Verdes Library District announced the decision to increase its current 50% tier in a statement late last month.

The special district, which operates the library as well as the Malaga Cove and Miraleste libraries on the hill, decided to take the step in a decade-long move toward sustainability, according to Facilities Manager Charles Crouse.

“Purchasing clean power is the frosting on the cake of everything else we’ve done as far as sustainability here at the library,” Crouse said.

The district, he explained, has also replaced equipment to make air conditioning more efficient, switched out computer monitors, installed light timers and LED light bulbs, which has reduced power consumption at the center by 32% since 2016.

“We’ve been consistently trying to save energy,” Crouse added. “Now we will be able to tell our participants and tax payers we’re on totally clean power.”

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Solar energy company says solar, batteries can replace LADWP’s gas power plants

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced back in February that LADWP would phase out three natural gas power plants located along the coast over the next decade, customers started asking how the utility company would make up for that lost power.

The three power plants represent 38% of the city’s current natural gas portfolio. The residential solar power provider Sunrun thinks they have a solution.

According to analysis by Sunrun, 75,000 L.A. homes and apartment buildings with solar panels and their brightbox battery would equal the energy produced by one of the natural gas plants.

“Recently, we have seen the cost of this technology come down. The way we have built our electricity system, which is a very centralized infrastructure because that’s the technology we had decades ago, can now take on this much more distributed architecture where customers can play a role. We don’t need to rely on centralized power plants. Nobody wants a big power plant in their backyard. There’s a lot of equity issues and environmental issues here,” said Audrey Lee, the vice president of Sunrun Energy Services.

LADWP customer Tony Roberts recently had solar panels installed on the roof of his Van Nuys home. He says it’s not just better for the environment, but it will save him a lot of money.

“Beyond the initial capital investment in my solar panels, there will be a return on investment. That’s what I looked at when I installed this system. Over time, over a 10-year period, once this system is paid off, my power bill which i paid $180 for, will go away. Then, I will have a $12.00 a month inter connect fee with the DWP,” said Roberts.

“We used to be a majority coal and gas, now we’re just 50% coal and gas and soon will be 100% renewable. That’s going to be solar, wind hydropower so we have to replace that with what we have, the sunshine,” said Garcetti.

A 1,700 square foot home in San Fernando has hired Sunrun to install 27 solar panels. The installation will take one day. When it’s complete, LADWP will come and turn the system, and this home will have 100% of its energy offset by clean solar.

L.A. has a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. Homes serving as a virtual power plant could be the solution. A home with Sunrun’s brightbox battery stores the energy produced by solar panels. Energy stored in the battery can be used to provide backup power to the home or to supply power to other customers.

“The $4 billion that we will save by not re-powering these gas plants, we can put into solar. Subsidies for homes. Subsidies for businesses. Each one of us can become a power producer, not just a power consumer,” said Garcetti.

 

Solar energy company says solar, batteries can replace LADWP’s gas power plants, by Josh Haskell, ABC 7 Los Angeles, June 3, 2019.

Ventura: Take the Lead, Going Green with Electric Vehicles

There is a global climate change crisis. No question. And Ventura County is near ground zero in that crisis.

Take a look. We’re experiencing the worst of drought, fires, and water shortages. The projections of sea level rise that will impact our coastline are alarming. These local impacts have the fingerprints of climate change all over them. Additionally, the County suffers from unhealthy levels of ozone air pollution. Addressing these impacts make reducing greenhouse gas emissions critical, and we believe that the County can and should do something to fight back.

The County until recently was designated as a “severe drought” area, and changes to rainfall patterns have left the County with serious water shortage and fire hazard crises. This past summer, temperatures reached record highs and serious damage to agricultural crops resulted. The Thomas, Hill, and Woolsey fires together burned more than 380,000 acres and destroyed more than 2,700 structures. A CalFire division chief working the Carr fire last summer said “It is clear to me that firefighters are on the front lines of climate change.”

The California Coastal Commission estimates, in its medium scenario prediction, that the local sea level could rise 1.9 feet by 2050 and 6.8 feet by the end of the century. For a county with 47 miles of coastline, that degree of sea level rise would be devastating.

Yes, climate change is real, but there are solutions at hand to start to both reverse the warming trend and at the same time reduce air pollution. Remember the motto: Think globally. Act locally. While climate change is a global problem, Ventura County needs to do its share to solve the problem. The County of Ventura has started replacing some its gas vehicles with electric vehicles. Now it’s time for the County to act locally and consider adopting an electric vehicle program for all of its fleet that will help reduce both global carbon dioxide emissions and ozone air pollution here in the County.

The production and combustion of fossil fuels is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. There are many ways fuels are used in our everyday lives — cooking on a gas stove, heating water and buildings, generating electricity, and propelling our motor vehicles. The result of producing and using fossil fuels for combustion is the creation of greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), as well as ozone air pollution precursors. These gases, and a few others, trap heat in the atmosphere and cause the earth to warm up. Fuel combustion emissions also increase air pollution levels. The largest source of GHGs and ozone precursors are motor vehicles. We want to focus on reducing emissions from light duty vehicle fleets.

The largest vehicle fleet in Ventura County is operated by the County of Ventura, followed by the 10 cities, the many school and special districts, and major companies. We believe the County can and should lead the way to converting its large fleet of light duty vehicles to EV’s as they are replaced on their normal replacement schedule. Adding more charging stations is another important action to make the operation of electric vehicles more convenient and efficient.

A 2019 Northwestern University study shows that electric vehicles charged from the grid, which is a mix of renewable and fossil fueled power plants, are still cleaner than using gasoline powered cars. Electric vehicles charged from 100 percent renewable sources of electricity have zero direct greenhouse gas emissions.

The Board of Supervisors has already taken major steps to address climate change, such as the large solar electric array at the parking lot at the County Government Center. The most recent climate action the board (and a number of cities) took is the creation of the Clean Power Alliance, which connects Ventura County electrical consumers to renewable energy sources.

The next important step the Board of Supervisors can and should take is to convert the County fleet from gasoline and diesel to electric power, and set an example to the other cities, districts, businesses, and residents in the County to do the same.

As two Ventura County professionals with over 80 years of environmental and air quality experience between us, we strongly recommend that the County Supervisors take action now.  Doing so would reduce local ozone air pollution levels and would demonstrate that Ventura County takes global warming and climate change very seriously, and is prepared to fight back.

 

Richard H. Baldwin, Ventura County Air Pollution Control Officer 1982-2002; Phil White, County Planning Commissioner – District 1, and former Ventura County APCD Director in the 1970s. 

 

Take the Lead, Going Green with Electric Vehicles, by Richard H. Baldwin and Phil White, VC Reporter, May 23, 2019.

Manhattan Beach will switch to 100 percent clean power for city facilities

All Manhattan Beach city facilities will be powered by 100 percent green energy starting next month.

At a council meeting this week, local leaders voted to increase the city’s elected power tier with the Clean Power Alliance from 50 percent to 100 percent renewable energy.

“It’s not an understatement to say this would be the biggest environmental decision that has ever been made in the city,” said Environmental Sustainability Manager Dana Murray.

The move will cost between $70,000 to $90,000, according to Murray, but those funds will not come from an increase in tax dollars.

She said the cost will be balanced in the city’s budget and offset by energy efficiency projects such as LED light conversions in public spaces.

“General estimates is that by going up to 100 percent renewable energy, the costs are about 7 to 9 percent more,” Murray explained.

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How LADWP Uses Two Lakes To Store Energy Like A Giant Battery

If L.A. is going to stop burning fossil fuels by 2045 — a key goal of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed Green New Deal — it must store a lot more of the excess solar and wind energy it produces during the day so it doesn’t have to rely on gas and coal energy to power the city when the sun sets and the wind dies.

There’s a growing focus on building big batteries — for example, the kind that use lithium ions. But L.A. needs energy storage that is far bigger than any traditional battery.

And it’s found one.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has turned two big lakes into a monster battery capable of storing enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes.

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Garcetti pulls back on promise of ‘zero bad air’ in L.A. by 2025

It was one of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s most dramatic pledges in his sweeping “Green New Deal” for Los Angeles: “We will have zero days of unhealthy air quality by 2025.”

The goal, it turns out, was not as ambitious as it sounded.

Rather than using current federal health standards, the mayor’s plan relied on an outdated measure of whether the air in the nation’s worst-polluted metropolis is safe to breathe.

After air quality experts criticized that benchmark as misleading, the mayor’s office scrubbed all mention of zero unhealthful smog days from the 77-page document.

The plan now reads: “The City will reach the U.S. EPA 80 [parts per billion] ozone attainment standard by 2025 and meet all future compliance dates.”

Today, air quality officials use the more stringent U.S. Environmental Agency limit of 70 parts per billion to determine whether air has safe levels of ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

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City of Baldwin Park Joins CalChoice

By Karen Villasenor.

On April 17, the City of Baldwin Park joined California Choice Energy Authority (CalChoice) and became the hybrid joint power authority’s (JPA) tenth associate member. CalChoice will be assisting the City in implementing a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program which is expected to launch in September 2020.

“Improving our residents’ quality of life is the City’s number one priority,” said Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano. “The City has partnered with CalChoice to leverage the power of CCA and provide the community with lower energy rates and more choices. This program is going to innovate the way power is delivered to our homes.”

Before deciding to move forward with CCA implementation, Baldwin Park evaluated CCA benefits and options for more than a year. CalChoice completed a CCA feasibility study for the City in 2018 which determined that a program could be successfully implemented in the City and would offer valuable benefits to the community. The California Public Utilities Commission approved the City’s CCA implementation plan in March 2019.

“Residents and local businesses in Baldwin Park are going to benefit immensely from the City’s decision to launch a CCA program,” said CalChoice Executive Director Jason Caudle. “We’ve seen the way other CalChoice associate members have prospered with their CCA programs and we’re excited to see Baldwin Park experience the same success.”

As a CalChoice associate member, Baldwin Park will receive a variety of CCA implementation services including rate analysis, financial projections, load forecasting and power procurement. CalChoice’s hybrid JPA structure will allow the City to remain in full control of decision making for the program, a benefit not typically offered by traditional JPAs. The City’s typical responsibilities in the process will include local governance and oversight, rate setting and community outreach. CalChoice will continue to provide operational support once the CCA program is launched.

With CCA revenue, the City intends to create a financially stable program with a reserve that ensures rate stability for years to come. Once a healthy reserve has been established, the City will use CCA revenue to  develop energy efficiency programs, economic development opportunities and new community programs to help reduce electric bills.

CalChoice offers support for local governments in every phase of the CCA program implementation process, providing feasibility services to determine whether a CCA program is appropriate, developing implementation plans for members to submit to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and managing the implementation process to launch the CCA program, as well as continuing to support members once their CCA program becomes operational. To learn more about partnering opportunities with CalChoice, please visit www.CaliforniaChoiceEnergyAuthority.com.

 

City of Palmdale Joins CalChoice, by Karen Villasenor, Public CEO, May 10, 2019.

Will smoggy L.A. have ‘zero bad air’ in 2025? Don’t hold your breath

It was one of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s most dramatic pledges in his sweeping “Green New Deal” for Los Angeles: “We will have zero days of unhealthy air quality by 2025.”

The goal, it turns out, was not as ambitious as it sounded.

Rather than using current federal health standards, the mayor’s plan relied on an outdated measure of whether the air in the nation’s worst-polluted metropolis is safe to breathe.

After air quality experts criticized that benchmark as misleading, the mayor’s office scrubbed all mention of zero unhealthful smog days from the 77-page document.

The plan now reads: “The City will reach the U.S. EPA 80 [parts per billion] ozone attainment standard by 2025 and meet all future compliance dates.”

Today, air quality officials use the more stringent U.S. Environmental Agency limit of 70 parts per billion to determine whether air has safe levels of ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Read more