Move by big three utilities to tilt the playing field in their favor

IOU “Code of Conduct” under attack

The original Community Choice law in California, AB 117 (2002), required the big electric utilities to “cooperate fully” with local governments evaluating Community Choice. The experience of the first cities and counties to pursue Community Choice made it painfully clear that the utilities did not seem to understand what “cooperate fully” meant. SB 790 (2011) was enacted to spell it out for them, and to put a harness on any future utility skulduggery (I’ll get to what that was momentarily). SB 790 established a “Code of Conduct” for the utilities relative to newly emerging Community Choice agencies (CCAs). It was very much needed, there was a very sound reason why it came to be, and it has been working well, for the most part. It should be left as it is.

On January 30, the big three utilities in California, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, filed a joint petition that strikes at the heart of the the code of conduct. Technically, it is a petition for modification of Decision 12-12-036, a 2012 CPUC Rulemaking decision that refined the Code of Conduct.

In the filing the utilities are asking the CPUC to:

  • Allow them to communicate with local governments regarding CCAs
  • Allow them to communicate with the news media — newspapers, television, and radio stations, about emerging CCAs.

That might sound reasonable to someone who doesn’t know the history. But here is what happened: In the mid-2000s the cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley, Marin County, and San Francisco, embarked on the first early efforts to exercise the newly established authority of local governments to form Community Choice Aggregations. They were met with an onslaught of marketing, legal, administrative and ad hominem attacks carried out by PG&E. In Marin County alone it is well-known that PG&E spent about $4M in an attempt to stop Marin Clean Energy from ever forming. The campaign included mailers, phone calls, meetings with elected leaders in all cases promulgating unfounded speculation about lights going dark, skyrocketing rates, incompetent elected leaders, and more. It poisoned the community with distortions, inaccuracies, and flat out lies. This is the kind of communication the IOUs are now trying to tell us is in the public interest?

In the aftermath of the blatant obstruction of the pioneering efforts of the San Joaquin Valley, Marin County, and San Francisco, State Senator Mark Leno chaired a series of Senate Select Committee meetings on Renewable Energy in 2010, specifically to hear the stories that these cities and counties could tell about their efforts and about the behavior of PG&E in this context. It was this series of hearings that led to the introduction, robust debate, and ultimate enactment of SB 790 and the Code of Conduct.

Now the utilities claim:

  • That lifting these restrictions will advance the public interest, will be consistent with California law, and is necessary to ensure that the code complies with the U.S. Constitution.
    • Response: Evidence has shown that the public interest will not be served; SB 790 is California law; First amendment rights were amply debated and the ability to file marketing plans under the law allows for the utilities’ constitutional speech.
  • That their goal is not to prevent CCA formation, and that they support customers’ right to choose CCAs.
    • Response: There is a long history of IOU obstruction of CCA clearly intended to prevent CCA formation.
  • That they do not seek any changes to the code of conduct’s marketing provisions, which restrict their ability to communicate with customers regarding the utility’s and CCAs’ energy supply services and rates
    • Response: They would not need any changes to the marketing provisions if they get the other restrictions lifted; they will do their marketing in the media, as they did in the past.
  • That the petition only concerns communications with local governments and the media.
    • Only? That is the core of what is effective about SB 790. With free range to spread misinformation to local governments and the media, the IOUs won’t need anything else to begin crushing community efforts to chart their own energy destinies.

It doesn’t work for the utilities to say they have turned over a new leaf. Recent experience in San Diego, the only instance in the state where a utility, in this case, SDG&E, has filed a marketing plan under SB 790, is outlined in our November 29, 2017 webinar, The San Diego Challenge. The activity underway there is clearly not in line with the spirit if not the letter of SB 790.

The utilities have asked that the CPUC take prompt action on the petition according to the following tight schedule:

  • Responses to petition are due: March 1, 2018
  • The Joint Utilities’ reply to responses is due: March 12, 2018
  • Proposed Decision to be issued: June 1, 2018

Email your comments to the CPUC at: public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov  And urge your local elected officials and/or Community Choice agency to work with the California Community Choice Association to mount a forceful response.

Mayor, Others Introduce New Environmental Initiative

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, other city officials and community environmental advocates presented an initiative this morning designed to meet international goals laid out by the Paris climate agreement as well as local goals of sustainable water supply.

In 2017, many cities and counties all across California voiced their protest to President Donald Trump’s announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Liccardo was one of many Bay Area mayors who signed the We Are Still In movement promise, a document tagged by more than 2,000 U.S. mayors, governors, university leaders, businesses and investors.

The promise stated that signers would continue to support the accord, “working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.”

In abiding by the “ambitious goals” of the Paris Agreement, the city has created the Climate Smart San Jose plan, which addresses energy and mobility, two of the largest drivers of fossil fuel emissions, according to the mayor’s office.

The plan, spearheaded by the mayor and other city officials including Environmental Services Department director Kerrie Romanow, has nine overarching strategies.

The strategies include transitioning to a renewable energy future, densifying the city to accommodate future neighbors, making homes efficient and affordable for families, developing integrated public transport, creating local jobs to reduce vehicle miles driven, and improving commercial building stock.

Romanow said the plan isn’t just about creating more green solutions, but also about improving the quality of life for residents and workers in San Jose.

Romanow said more than 2,000 members of the community provided input during the development of the plan.

The city leaders and stakeholders involved with the plan presented at 13 public meetings between May 2017 and this month.

“This is the culmination of a lot of work from an awful lot of folks,” Liccardo said. “It’s also the beginning of a lot of important work ahead and we’re excited to make this happen.”

The plan includes short-, medium- and long-term goals, including 100 percent emission-free electricity being made available to all San Jose Clean Energy users by 2021, reducing carbon emissions from vehicular trips by a million tons pre year by 2030, and becoming the first city in the world to produce 1 gigawatt of solar power by 2040.

San Jose Clean Energy is the city’s Community Choice Energy program and is expected to roll out later this year.

“We want all of our residents, specifically our low-income residents, to benefit from our green dividends that will come from reducing energy and water consumption,” Liccardo said.

A town hall meeting will be held on Tuesday in City Council chambers at City Hall so that residents can learn more about the environmental initiative and what it will mean. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m.

The Climate Smart San Jose plan is scheduled to come to the City Council for approval during its meeting on Feb. 27.

 

San Jose mayor, others introduce new environmental initiative, by Bay City News Service, SF Gate, February 15, 2018. 

Equity in Hiring – The Community Choice Energy Supplier Diversity Symposium

On Friday, January 26, I attended the “CCA Supplier Diversity Symposium,” held in Richmond, California. Co-hosted by the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) and the Greenlining Institute, the event drew over 100 attendees from throughout California including Community Choice agency (CCA) leaders, CPUC Commissioners, local government leaders, businesses, and local workforce and union representatives.

CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman addresses the audience.

The purpose of the event was to review the commitments, initiatives, and progress made by CCAs, local governments, and the business community to support public–private partnerships with women, minority, disabled veteran, and LGBT-owned businesses in the energy sector and to share best practices for diversity in the energy workforce.

Issues addressed included:

  • How CCAs can contribute to the movement of promoting diversity – combining green energy initiatives, local control, transparency, and public engagement.
  • Best practices and resources for CCAs and suppliers to promote the use of minority businesses.
  • Challenges and successes for minority business owners and how CCAs and local governments can support them, and how non-minority-owned businesses can promote diversity.
  • Exploring how and why projects like MCE’s Solar One (see more below) are important to the State, the roles that RichmondBuild, Grid AlternativessPower, and Cenergy Power played in the MCE commitment to ensure a 50% local hire goal, their diversity initiatives and how this project may inform future deployments.
  • Presentations from individuals from the local community that were hired into the workforce for the Solar One project, discussing their personal experience, reasons for transitioning into the green workforce, current projects, and future goals.

One of the points of information that came up was the CPUC’s General Order 156, that addresses diversity in procurement in the energy sector. The program monitors supplier diversity in procurements by participating utilities and oversees a clearinghouse of women, minority, LGBT, and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises. The clearinghouse verifies the status of firms seeking certification as being owned by one of these categories.

MCE’s 10.5MW Solar One project in Richmond, CA.

The day concluded with an on-site tour of MCE’s Solar One installation, a 10.5 megawatt solar project constructed on an otherwise unusable brownfield near the Richmond waterfront. It is the largest publicly owned solar project in the Bay Area and ownership is expected to eventually transfer to MCE. For details from the day, take a look at the program.

Stay tuned to CPX E-News for interviews in the next edition with some of the local folks hired to work on the Solar One project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two more Community Choice Agencies Launch Service in February

From nine to eleven operational CCAs in one month

This month two new Community Choice agencies (CCAs) covering three counties have launched service to their first customers.

In the south, the former Los Angeles Community Choice Energy agency re-dubbed Clean Power Alliance of Southern California went live on February 3. The re-naming is the result of jurisdictions from outside Los Angeles County such as Ventura County voting to join the joint powers authority. From three initial member agencies at its July 2017 launch, the alliance has grown to include over 25 cities in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties representing 2.3 million residents, with more lined up to join. In all, the Clean Power Alliance will have more than 2.4 million residential customers and a quarter million commercial accounts by end of the year. This will help decrease greenhouse gas emissions by up to 9% across the region. For more information about CPASC, see their February 3rd MEDIA RELEASE.

To the north, in Placer County, Pioneer Community Energy has also begun serving its first customers. Local news stories are reporting typical opt-out rates and in a generally favorable roll-out. Pioneer (We can’t call it PCE because Peninsula Clean Energy has dibs on that) serves Placer County and the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Loomis, Lincoln, and Rocklin.

We love turning counties GREEN on our CPX Map, check it out!

Stay tuned for more news about CCA launch-of-service in 2018 as the “CCA Baby Boom” proceeds.

Community Choice Energy Scores A Partial Win At The California Public Utilities Commission

Clean energy advocates, local government elected officials, and Community Choice agencies (CCAs) scored a partial victory at a voting meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in San Francisco on February 8th.

Inundated by “thousands of emails” according to one of the Commissioners, a draft resolution that would have created an effective “freeze” on CCA formation was amended favorably. The revised resolution was issued to the public 3.5 business days prior to the voting meeting. That amended resolution was adopted.

The amended resolution E-4907 is unquestionably better for emerging CCAs than the original draft, but it still imposes new procedural requirements in order to launch service. The adopted resolution only applies to an interim period in 2018 and 2019 and all emerging CCAs will be able to launch within a reasonable time frame. How Resource Adequacy and unintended cost shifting issues will be addressed after that period will be taken up in the appropriate formal proceedings, one of the key demands of the CCA community. The amended resolution is intended to facilitate an orderly transition to CCA service, ensuring that over-procurement of Resource Adequacy does not occur.

Over forty speakers lined up to share their support for Community Choice and express their concerns about the amended resolution and on a variety of related matters. Significant concerns also remain among many in the CCA community regarding CPUC authority overreach, process, and bias in favor of the delivery utilities.

News Conference and Rally

Earlier in the day CCA and local government representatives, joined by CCA advocates from throughout California – about 60 people in all – joined for a news conference and rally prior to the meeting.

Our sincere gratitude to the news conference speakers who came from near and far: Francesca Vietor, Commissioner, SFPUC, who offered welcoming remarks; Efren Carrillo, former Sonoma County Supervisor and founding governing board member of Sonoma Clean Power; Jan Pepper, Peninsula Clean Energy CEO and Los Altos City Councilmember; Steve McShane, Salinas City Council member; Lindsey Horvath, Councilmember, City of West Hollywood; Dave Pine, Supervisor, San Mateo County and Peninsula Clean Energy governing board; Rod Sinks, Vice Mayor of Cupertino and Founding Chair of Silicon Valley Clean Energy.

Other elected officials who attended and/or testified at the hearing included Lucas Frerichs, Davis City Council and Valley Clean Energy Alliance; Mike LeBarre, Mayor of King City; Dwight Worden, Mayor of Del Mar; Justin Massey, Hermosa Beach City Council; Shelly Kaplan, Councilmember, Cathedral City.

A robust thanks also to the many organizations  that participated including Communities for a Better Environment, various 350.org regional groups, Local Clean Energy Alliance, California Alliance for Community Energy, Interfaith Light & Power, GreenPower, a project of the Romero Institute, Organizing For Action, East Bay Clean Power Alliance, The Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, SLO Clean Energy, the Climate Action Campaign, and many others.

A finally, a hearty thanks to all CCA supporters and advocates throughout the state who sprang to action in December and January to defend Community Choice Energy. Count this one as a measured win for Community Choice. More info & news will be posted in CPX E-news on this matter in the coming weeks as it becomes available.

CalCCA Quarterly Update

California Community Choice Association has released their latest quarterly update via their newsletter. The update contains information regarding existing CCAs as well as cities and counties exploring Community Choice. Updates include the launch dates of Monterey Bay Community Power and Los Angeles Community Choice Energy, now re-named the Clean Power Alliance of Southern California. To receive the next quarterly update, please visit the CALCCA website and sign up for their email list.

Download report

Click here to download

NEWS CONFERENCE TO PROTEST THE CPUC’S RESOLUTION E-4907, A STUMBLING BLOCK TO COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY IN CALIFORNIA

The Center for Climate Protection will be joined by elected officials and Community Choice representatives from throughout the state of California at a press conference on Thursday, February 8th at 8:30 am at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Speakers will address the impact of the CPUC’s proposed resolution E-4907, which would institute up to a two-year waiting period for forming or expanding Community Choice programs.

If adopted, the resolution will badly hamper new Community Choice Agency (CCA) formation, especially communities which had not submitted their Implementation Plans as of December 8th, 2017. There is much concern about how this would negatively impact future CCAs, especially those emerging to serve disadvantaged communities like in Los Angeles County, the City of San Diego, or in the Central Valley.

This resolution represents a large departure from existing CPUC statutory oversight of CCAs. It impinges on both local and state authority. Even if the concerns raised by this resolution are valid, which is questionable, the manner in which it has been proposed circumvented standard stakeholder input processes. This resolution was originally proposed on December 8th with an expected vote on January 11th. This already short timeline was exacerbated given the winter holidays. Even though the vote is now in February, this decision will have a dramatic impact on the development of local programs and deserves a fair hearing and due process in an open proceeding where the necessary data collection and input of interested stakeholders can be heard and vetted properly.

Cities and community groups from across the state have sent letters opposing the content and the process of this resolution. Several local government representatives will be speaking out about its negative impacts on their communities. For more information and to learn what you can do visit the Center for Climate Protections’ Community Choice-dedicated Clean Power Exchange website and ACTION ALERT.

Who: Speakers will include Gabriel “Gabe” Quinto, Mayor of El Cerrito; Steve McShane, Salinas City Council member; Efren Carrillo, former Sonoma County Supervisor and founding member of Sonoma Clean Power; Dave Pine, Supervisor, San Mateo County and Peninsula Clean Energy governing board; Jan Pepper, Peninsula Clean Energy CEO and Los Altos City Council; and Woody Hastings of the Center for Climate Protection.

What: The news conference will touch on the impact that the resolution would have on Community Choice programs in different phases of development, from established agencies already serving customers to emerging CCAs. This conference will convene CCA advocates for the 9:30am CPUC meeting, which is open to the public. For those who plan to attend the CPUC meeting on February 8, the CPUC has an online speaker sign-up page.

When: Thursday, February 8th from 8:30 A.M. to 9:20 A.M.

Where: Main entrance, public area, California Public Utilities Commission, 505 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA

New Community Outreach Specialist, Fresno

Hello! I am LaTisha Harris, the new Community Outreach Specialist that has joined the Center for Climate Protection team. I will be working in the Central Valley primarily focused on Fresno and surrounding areas. I have over ten years of grassroots and labor organizing experience, lobbying and executing campaigns on various issues throughout the state of California. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from California State University, Fresno (Go Bulldogs!).

Being a native of Fresno with three children, all of whom suffer from asthma, having a cleaner environment has become one of my top priorities. Not just for my children, but for the generations to come as well. With the Central Valley being the top leader in Agriculture- supplying food for this entire nation, this is just one of the many reasons that Fresno needs and deserves a Community Choice Agency.

It is my desire to educate, engage and empower the residents, policy makers and stakeholders to make Fresno a cleaner and environmentally-friendly community, to stimulate the local economy by creating more jobs, and to give the residents an option in energy – something they’ve never had before. These are all things Community Choice Energy offers. I realize that this is a change that Fresno needs. It won’t be an easy road, but I am committed to making Fresno a better place to live, work and play!

If you would like to contact me about Community Choice Energy and our work in the Fresno area, please email me at LaTisha[at]climateprotection.org

New Community Outreach Specialist, Stockton and San Joaquin County

Hello, my name is Valeria Sanabia! I am the new Community Outreach Specialist in Stockton and San Joaquin County. I’ve joined the Center for Climate Protection, an organization that is helping address economic and community needs through the implementation of Community Choice Energy. In our work together, we will work to ensure that San Joaquin County and Stockton remain key players in California’s economic and energy landscape.

As a member of the California Chamber of Commerce International Affairs and Corporate Relations teams I advocated for Californian Businesses to ensure their place in the international marketplace. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity of forming relationships with many people including foreign government representatives and business leaders in all industries to help keep Californian businesses relevant and innovative.

In the same way that I have helped build fruitful working relationships in my previous work, I look forward to helping foster energy innovation and elevating the standard of living for Stockton and San Joaquin County. As a native Stocktonian, I grew up in the heart of California with access to a breadth of diversity and learning to appreciate everything from bonfires under starry nights to city lights. It is imperative that as California moves forward, every sector and all people are included in that plan. With energy being such an important facet of business and civilian life, I want to ensure we are using energy in a way that serves all of our needs as a community.

Having come home recently, I am proud to see the momentum that has surged in order to move our region forward and capture state and national attention. Through Community Choice, we can efficiently direct capital into economic development and create long-term economic stability in our community to secure our families’ future. I want to help create a more sustainable and robust economy through the transformation of the energy sector so that we can remain versatile and become better positioned to integrate into the larger economic landscape in California. Together, I am sure we will find the best way to transform the way we use energy to serve us better.

If you live in Stockton or San Joaquin County and would like to contact me about Community Choice Energy and our work, please email me at Valeria[at]climateprotection.org

Action Alert – CPUC Resolution E-4907 PROGRESS UPDATE!

Good news! We have heard from the team representing the operational and emerging Community Choice agencies (CCAs) that progress has been made on a proposed solution to the core issues in Draft Resolution E-4907.

The Details: The proposed solution addresses the “Resource Adequacy” costs of new CCAs, which is the underlying topic of CPUC Draft Resolution 4907. Resource Adequacy refers to a CPUC requirement that all load-serving entities demonstrate that they have procured no less than 115% of their peak loads in order to ensure that enough power is available even if unusually high energy usage events occur.

The Progress: The Commissioners and key CPUC staff all appear to be very open to setting up an interim process that would assign actual Investor-owned Utility Resource Adequacy costs for the partial year in which a CCA launches, and then immediately transitioning to a CCA self-provision from that point forward. This would allow CCAs to continue forming on their regular schedule while ensuring there isn’t a cost shift or a state of non-compliance with the Resource Adequacy requirement.

The message and plan going forward: Since a possible solution that addresses the problem is on the table, proposed by the CCAs, we suggest that:

1. The Draft Resolution should be retracted
2. CPUC should accept the CCA-proposed solution
3. Until we receive confirmation that Draft Resolution E-4907 has been removed from the agenda, the news conference and rally schedule for the morning of February 8 on the steps of the CPUC at 505 Van Ness in San Francisco is ON!

4. Please continue to send letters to the CPUC urging them to retract Draft Resolution E-4907

Thank you everyone who has taken action since December 8! Your efforts have paid off!

More details, information, and guidelines for contacting the CPUC is HERE.

For information contact woody(at)climateprotection.org