SMUD Reaches 1,000 All-Electric Homes Milestone

July 8, 2019 — SMUD and nearly two dozen homebuilders have teamed up to build more than 1,000 all-electric homes over the next two years in several neighborhoods in the community-owned electric utility’s Sacramento County service territory.

The homes are included in the SMUD Smart Home program and are part of a broader electrification effort by SMUD, the first of its kind in the USA. The innovative program designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions kicked off last fall. Another thousand homes are projected to be contracted for by the end of 2019. The program has enrolled a range of builders—from small local infill, to some of the largest national production builders.

When Santa Monica-based Watt Communities, one of the premier homebuilders in the west, committed to participate in the SMUD All-Electric Smart Home program, the agreements pushed the program past the 1,000-home-commitment milestone.

Watt Communities’ has planned two all-electric developments located in north Natomas. The 57-home “Mystique” community and the 257-home “Artisan Square” community will also include solar roof panels. Mystique is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, while Artisan Square is expected to be ready by the end of 2021.

SMUD provides considerable incentives to builders for including appliances and equipment to make the homes all-electric. These include heat pump heating and cooling, heat pump water heating, and induction stoves—appliances that are more energy efficient and can deliver lower overall energy bills.

SMUD is providing Watt Communities $5,000 per home in incentives. The energy performance of these efficient homes stands at an average of 14 percent better than what is required under the current California energy code. The project will also implement magnetic-induction cooking technology, providing a safer, efficient and more convenient alternative to gas and electric resistance cooktops. “Watt Communities is proud to partner with SMUD to offer our homebuyers the benefits of unique energy-efficient features that will result in yearly savings,” said Mike Von Quilich, vice president of Operations for Watt Communities.

High-performance SMUD Smart Homes are more energy efficient and deliver lower overall energy bills when compared to conventional homes. For example, heat pump water heaters reduce utility bills by approximately $40 per year compared to gas tankless water heaters. Instead of using gas to create heat, heat pump water heaters use a refrigerant cycle to transfer heat from surrounding ambient air into the hot water tank. They also cool the area where they are located, usually in the garage. Induction stoves cook twice as fast as gas stoves. They also use less energy than traditional gas stoves and offer precise, digital control of the temperature, plus they have no open flame. The absence of combustion in all-electric homes results in greater occupant safety and improved indoor air quality.

Bottom line: customers with all-electric homes in SMUD’s service area are well positioned for a renewable energy economy and can typically save $400 compared to homes that rely on gas for space heating and hot water. Each customer’s savings will depend on the specifics of the home and how they operate their home.

These homes will help community-owned SMUD meet its aggressive commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 and surpass the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals of 80 percent by 2050.

The SMUD Smart Home program offers design assistance and financial incentives to builders and developers of up to $5,000 for new single-family homes, and up to $1,750 for new multifamily units, built to be all-electric.

SMUD customers who own existing homes in the SMUD service territory can also qualify for up to $13,750 for existing homes that convert from gas to electricity. There are also rebates available from SMUD for traditional efficiency measures such as duct sealing, insulation and windows.

 

SMUD Reaches 1,000 All-Electric Homes Milestone, by Smart Grid Observer Staff, Environmental XPRT, July 8, 2019.

SMUD expands services to Silicon Valley Clean Energy

SMUD announced new services for community choice aggregators (CCA) including program design and implementation. Silicon Valley Clean Energy a community-owned agency serving Santa Clara County communities and providing 270,000 residential and commercial customers with clean, carbon-free electricity will be the first CCA to use SMUD’s differentiated services.

“We have been successfully delivering more than 100 innovative programs to our customers for decades and will leverage our design research, data and outcomes to help SVCE implement a suite of programs that save customers money while reducing carbon emissions,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Arlen Orchard.

The program services that SMUD will deliver will help local communities reduce carbon pollution while delivering engaging customer experiences. SVCE programs are focused on promoting energy efficiency and grid integration, as well as electrifying transportation, buildings and homes.

“As a leader in customer satisfaction and innovative design, SMUD is uniquely positioned to help us deliver customer programs,” said Girish Balachandran, SVCE CEO.  “As community-owned agencies, we share deep commitments to our customers and aggressive carbon reduction goals. We look forward to providing value-added programs that help our customers and the environment.”

SMUD’s current power supply portfolio is 50 percent carbon free, and its new Integrated Resource Plan has goals to be carbon neutral by 2040. SMUD is doing this by expanding its renewable power supply and providing rebates and programs to its customers that reduce carbon emissions. Programs that include energy efficiency rebates, home electrification contractors, electric vehicle incentives and more are helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent by 2030.

SMUD has been providing core administrative services to Valley Clean Energy and East Bay Community Energy since 2018, including call center, billing, data management, wholesale energy, and financial and business operational services. This will be the first time SMUD provides a CCA with expanded program design and program operation, making SMUD a complete provider.

SMUD’s programs have won praise throughout the industry from J.D. Power for being the Highest Ranked in Customer Satisfaction with Business Electric Service in the West. And SMUD continues to maintain its status as the most trusted brand in trusted brands and customer engagement studies by Market Strategies International.

“We are glad to be strengthening our portfolio of services with a proven model of success,” said Orchard. “By providing complete services to other providers, we are effectively working to improve the quality of life for our neighbors throughout the state.”

This new contract with SVCE is estimated at $600,000 and will be managed through SMUD’s Community Energy Services Department that works to support CCAs.

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned, not-for-profit, electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 70 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit smud.org.

About Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a community-owned agency serving the majority of Santa Clara County communities, acquiring clean, carbon-free electricity on behalf of more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates competitive and promote clean energy programs. Member jurisdictions include Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale and unincorporated Santa Clara County. SVCE is guided by a Board of Directors, which is comprised of a representative from the governing body of each member community. For more information, please visit SVCleanEnergy.org.

 

SMUD expands services to Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Press Release, Electric Energy Online, June 26, 2019.

SMUD leads charge on electric cars

Working to get the word out about electric vehicles, SMUD in partnership with the city of Elk Grove, held a “Tacos and Test Drives” event outside Elk Grove City Hall on June 8.

Attendees got to test-drive (or, if they preferred, test-ride) electric vehicles from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Nissan, Tesla, and Toyota.

“(Tacos and Test Drives) is a great way for folks in the community to come out and get behind the wheel and take a test drive and ask questions,” said John Grindrod, program manager for SMUD’s Residential Drive Electric Program. “It’s low-pressure and they can drive a variety of vehicles at the same time. It’s the prime motivation.”

Additionally, he said, “Elk Grove is prime SMUD territory, so it’s been tremendous to have the partnership with the city and the various departments.”

Involved in the movement toward electric vehicles (EVs) since their early iterations, SMUD sees three benefits to the vehicles: EVs create zero emissions when driven so their usage improves local air quality; EVs generate fewer emissions overall compared to gas-powered vehicles; and EVs generate revenue for SMUD.

Grindrod said SMUD is involved with setting up public chargers around town and is interested in promoting electric vehicles. As the fuel source for electric vehicles, SMUD receives funding from a state program aimed at switching gas engines to electric, Grindrod said.

“It really lines up with SMUD’s environmental goals. That’s a prime reason we’re out here,” he said.

Grindrod sees the event as an opportunity to educate the public that electric vehicles “are powerful” and “are as beautiful as any car out there.”

Besides the environmental bona fides of EVs, Grindrod said EVs offer practical benefits like requiring less maintenance than their gas-fueled equivalents because they have fewer moving parts and generate less heat. He said that leads to fewer breakdowns.

Also, EVs use a regenerative braking system, in which a generator slows down the car, both recharging the batteries and reducing wear on the brakes.

Other selling points include that EVs never require an oil change and can be charged in the garage.

“We just say your garage is your gas station. … We’re glad to have EVs on our radar and are able to educate the public about all the benefits,” Grindrod said.

Financial incentives for purchasing an EV, Grindrod said, can bring the cost down by $10,000 to $11,000. Most EVs qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Additionally, Grindrod said, the state of California has a clean vehicle rebate of up to $2,500 for residents.

Under a SMUD program, customers who buy or lease a new plug-in electric vehicle can get $599 cash, roughly the amount the average Sacramento EV driver spends on charging at home for two years. Or they can receive a free car charger.

Members of SacEV, an EV enthusiast car club, came to Tacos and Test Rides to show off their cars and answer any questions from the public.

SacEV member Peter Mackin, the owner of a 2013 Tesla Model S, said when his car was new it had a range of 265 miles. He said his car gets about three miles per kilowatt hour so it costs 6 cents per mile to run it.

“I like that it’s quiet, clean and it’s very quick,” Mackin said.

Providing test-drives on behalf of the Nissan of Elk Grove dealership, driver Jake Yu said the nationwide best-selling Nissan Leaf is the first mass-produced electric car.

“To me, they’re the most cost-effective, have the most features. It’s tried and true. It’s low on maintenance, low on repairs.”

He said at the dealership, they get a lot of requests for test drives of the Leaf.

Asked what he thought of the Tacos and Test Drives event, Yu said, “Today’s going amazingly. Today, straight-up, people were waiting in line 20 minutes for a test-drive.”

 

SMUD leads charge on electric cars, by Monica Stark, Elk Grove Citizen, June 12, 2019.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Signs Long-Term Solar PPA

Lendlease, an international property and infrastructure group, has joined forces with the Sacramento County Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in California to execute a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for Rancho Seco Solar II.

The 160 MW solar facility will be located on the premises of the decommissioned Rancho Seco Nuclear Generation Station site and, upon completion, will be the largest solar facility in Sacramento County, Calif., says Lendlease. The project is the company’s first energy development in California.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with one of the largest community-owned municipal power suppliers in the country and to help them achieve their renewable energy goals,” says Craig Carson, general manager of Lendlease energy development. “Lendlease is focused on developing unique and innovative energy projects to meet our customer’s needs.”

Rancho Seco Solar II is scheduled to begin construction later this year and be completed by the end of 2020.

“This project supports the strategic direction of the elected SMUD board of directors, as well as California’s renewable energy and greenhouse-gas emission goals,” says Amanda Beck, SMUD’s senior project manager. “The addition of this clean, carbon-free generation resource will optimize the delivery of locally generated solar energy.”

 

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Signs Long-Term Solar PPA, by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry, May 31, 2019.

City Of Davis Adopts Solar Standard For All New Commercial Buildings

(From Press Release) – The City of Davis announced today that it is now requiring solar photovoltaics on all new non-residential buildings and any proposed high-rise, multi-family dwellings. The ordinance to amend city code also includes electric vehicle charging for new development.

The Davis City Council passed a new code amendment ordinance at its April 9 meeting. The new “Green Reach Code” builds upon an ordinance passed in 2014 requiring solar for all new single-family residential construction in the City limits.

Required solar photovoltaic systems must be sized to offset approximately 80% of electricity used on site or 15 DC watts per square foot of “solar zone,” meaning roof area amenable to a solar installation. Chief Building Officer Greg Mahoney reported that approval would “provide clarity and certainty of green building expectations for architects, developers, builders, staff and the community.” He added the new ordinance would “save time for construction applicants, staff and the Natural Resources Commission.”

The amended code details pre-wiring for Level 2 electric vehicle charging at single family residential developments and charging stations for all new non-residential settings including retail, hospitals and clinics, schools, churches, hotels and entertainment halls and venues, as well as new, multi-family developments. An additional measure addresses electrical sockets to accommodate future installations of on-demand, hot water recirculation pumps for new, single-family construction and some bathroom and kitchen remodels.

“The City of Davis was one of the first cities to require photovoltaic systems on all new single- family residential construction,” said Mayor Brett Lee. “We continue our leadership role in sustainability by now requiring photovoltaic systems on all new commercial and multi-family construction. These requirements will have long term benefits for our residents and our environment.”

Lee added, “Importantly, these requirements have been developed to be straightforward and clear so that they are manageable for designers and builders.”

The new rules are in alignment with the City Council goal of pursuing environmental sustainability and the Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan goal of carbon neutrality by 2040, a date moved forward 10 years by the Climate Emergency Resolution passed recently by Council.

“This new ordinance is an important step by our city to translate our recent city resolution that makes a commitment to addressing climate change into real, positive action,” said Councilmember Dan Carson. “The Natural Resources Committee, Cool Davis and the Davis Chamber of Commerce all embraced this proposal. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new commercial and high-rise buildings by adopting energy-efficient standards while simplifying the steps that builders must take to comply with requirements.”

City staff conferred with the Davis Chamber of Commerce and the Natural Resources Commission on the new code proposal and utilized a cost-effectiveness study to determine some of the parameters of the ordinance. The new City of Davis code complies with California state energy code and reflects voluntary CALGreen Tier 1 measures.

Davis is already a leader in solar photovoltaic adoption in terms of capacity per capita. As of January 1, 2018, Davis had reached 735 watts per capita among a population of 68,704, more than the leader Honolulu as documented in the 2019 Shining Cities report. The Davis total was 50,535 kilowatts reported from PG&E interconnection data through November 2018. Smaller communities are included in the Shining Cities survey if they are state capitals.

This is the latest initiative taken by the City to keep Davis in a leadership position as a resilient, adaptive, and economically vibrant City. The joint Cool Davis and City of Davis Double Up on Solar campaign reports that our community has so far met about 80% of its 2020 goal of 4,500 total residential solar systems with 21 megawatts capacity.

Davis joins a handful of cities across the United States, including San Francisco, Santa Monica, Sebastopol and Watertown, Mass., that have passed ordinances requiring solar photovoltaics for commercial construction. The State of California is currently preparing for a residential solar mandate scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2020, and is looking into requiring solar on commercial new construction by 2030.

Davis can now add the Green Reach Code to a growing list of recent sustainability accomplishments, including LED street lighting and the establishment of local community choice energy provider, Valley Clean Energy.

Resource: Shining Cities Report 2019

https://environmentamerica.org/feature/ame/shining-cities-2019

City Of Davis Adopts Solar Standard For All New Commercial Buildings, Press Release, Davis Vanguard, May 21, 2019.

City of Sacramento and EVgo Celebrate California’s First-Ever Curbside High-Powered Charging Plaza for Electric Vehicles at Southside Park

SACRAMENTO, Calif.May 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The City of Sacramento today joined with EVgo, the nation’s largest public electric vehicle (EV) fast charging network, to celebrate the public opening of California’s first-ever curbside high-powered charging plaza for electric vehicles at Southside Park.

The special ribbon cutting event featured remarks from David Hochschild, Chair, California Energy Commission, and Chair of Veloz; Commissioner Patricia Monahan, California Energy Commission; Tyson Eckerle, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go Biz); Vice Mayor Eric GuerraCity of SacramentoDave Tamayo, Sacramento Municipal Utility District Board of Directors; V. John White, Executive Director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies; and Eileen Wenger Tutt, Executive Director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition.

“EVgo has already built more than 550 fast chargers across the state of California and is building more than 130 new, conveniently located fast chargers across California to deliver reliable and affordable fast charging to EV drivers across the state,” said Julie Blunden, Executive Vice President of Business Development at EVgo. “We’re proud to partner with the City of Sacramento on this innovative project, which will provide the first curbside high-power EV fast charging service in the state.”

“This project represents the type of innovative charging solutions we need to make driving electric fast and convenient for all Californians,” said CEC Chair David Hochschild. “I applaud the leadership of EVgo and the City of Sacramento for coming together to show what’s possible as we all work to achieve the state’s ambitious clean transportation goals.”

“Low-cost and convenient EV charging on our City streets will make it easy for residents and visitors alike to shift to electric vehicles and away from fossil fuels,” said Sacramento Councilmember Steve Hansen. “I’ve worked hard to get EV charging into the right-of-way, and now with the EVgo station at Southside Park, users will be able get the charge they need and take time to enjoy the park, walk to Insight Coffee, or enjoy the Sunday Farmers Market.”

“ABB has collaborated with EVgo for several years in pioneering infrastructure technology such as the first public CCS and high-power charging systems in North America,” added Bob Stojanovic, Director of ABB’s EV Infrastructure business for North America. “This first-ever curbside high-power charging plaza is the latest milestone in our shared mission to deliver a convenient, high-quality user experience to all EV drivers.”

The Southside Park location includes a total of six curbside chargers, including three 50-kilowatt DC fast-chargers capable of delivering up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes; and three 150- kilowatt DC fast-chargers capable of delivering up to 150 miles of range in 30 minutes.

In June 2017, under Sacramento’s Demonstration Partnerships Policy (Resolution 2017-0150), the City entered into an agreement with EVgo to construct and operate the City’s first curbside EV charging partnership in order to test, evaluate, and demonstrate the feasibility of curbside EV charging. These chargers represent a new generation of technology that can provide up to 150-mile range in as few as 20 to 30 minutes and will be available as a paid service for EV drivers.

About EVgo
EVgo is America’s Largest Public Fast Charging Network. EVgo’s fast chargers deliver convenient, fast charges to EV drivers on the go, delivering up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes. EVgo’s fast chargers are compatible with all EV models currently on the market that accept DC Fast Charging. With more than 1,100 fast chargers and more than 1,000 Level 2 chargers in 66 metropolitan markets, EVgo’s network in 34 U.S. states allows EV drivers to travel further while providing exemplary service by maintaining and operating its charging stations. EVgo offers a variety of flexible pricing options for drivers including Pay As You Go and low-cost Membership options.

To find out more, or to join the EVgo network, download our app, visit EVgo.com, and follow EVgo on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

MEDIA CONTACT: Marycon Young, Media & Communications Specialist, (916) 719-4173, mcyoung@cityofsacramento.org, or Michael Blenner, Berlin Rosen for EVgo, michael.blenner@berlinrosen.com, (347) 439 2158

SMUD and partners pledge $750,000 to communities in need. What will Sacramento receive?

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District, along with nine community partners, announced a plan Monday to contribute a minimum of $750,000 to initiatives in Sacramento’s Promise Zone neighborhoods.

The Promise Zone is a federal designation given to underprivileged communities. Sacramento received the Promise Zone designation in 2015, and the zone encompasses 22 square miles, including downtown, parts of North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights, Oak Park and parts of South Sacramento.

The new initiative includes partnerships with UC Davis Health, Blue Shield of California, the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and five other organizations, according to a news release from SMUD.

The $750,000 will go to economic and workforce development programs that are set to be implemented over the next three years in the Promise Zone. The ultimate goal of the partnerships is to create public-private shared initiatives to “drive revitalization in Sacramento’s most underserved communities,” according to the release.

Read more

VCE energy advisers offer expertise

Greener energy, customer choice, local control, access — they’re the hallmarks of Valley Clean Energy, a public electricity program launched locally last June. VCE serves residential and business customers in Davis, Woodland and unincorporated Yolo County.

The highly skilled staff members, a board of directors made up of local elected officials and an advisory committee of experts from the three jurisdictions are transforming the idea of community choice energy into a reality.

“The Community Advisory Committee is a really powerful group with quite a diverse mix of backgrounds,” says Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs, a member and past chair of the VCE board.

The members’ breadth and depth of knowledge makes for a “stellar” bunch, adds Yvonne Hunter, a longtime Davis resident who is one of the CAC’s nine volunteer members. Before her retirement from the League of California Cities, Hunter served as the lead lobbyist for state legislation that authorized cities and counties to create Community Choice Aggregation electricity providers.

“It was something I really, really believed in,” she recalls. “And then, it was exciting to go from theoretical legislation that I passionately believed in to helping my very own community decide if community choice was right for us.”

Frerichs says the CAC advises the board on general policy and operational objectives, including strategies to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate local energy resources.

Many of the members transitioned from city or county advisory roles to their new volunteer efforts with VCE. Gerry Braun of Davis, who chairs the CAC, said the committee’s first responsibilities include serving as a “second set of eyes” on energy issues, assisting in community outreach during the launch process and providing advice regarding legislation and regulations pertaining to community choice energy.

Braun himself has been involved in energy for more than half a century, with a particular emphasis on solar and renewables. Currently, he is the director of the Integrated Renewable Energy Systems Network, which serves the growing need for more integrated planning and operation of local energy services in support of community economic and environmental goals.

“I came to a conclusion two or three decades ago — this was before climate change became a real concern — that the changes that had to occur to bring solar and wind on faster were going to be driven by people rather than utilities,” Braun says. “I think I’ve been proven right on that.

Those changes that Braun dreamed of are being embraced by 19 CCAs that serve more than 10 million customers across California. Just 10 months old, Valley Clean Energy is one of the youngest such agencies.

And the passion that he and his fellow CAC members share for community choice energy fuels their involvement. Other members include Vice Chair Christine Shewmaker of Woodland, a plant biologist and passionate climate-change activist; Secretary Marsha Baird of unincorporated Yolo County, who worked 20-plus years as a market research and strategic planning manager in Silicon Valley; Lorenzo Kristov of Davis, who spent 40 years in the energy industry, most recently with the California Independent System Operation (Cal ISO); David Springer of unincorporated Yolo County, who co-founded the Davis Energy Group; Mark Aulman of Woodland, a retired communications professional and ardent environmental advocate; and Christine Casey of Woodland, a UC Davis entomologist with expertise in water and sustainability issues.

A seat representing unincorporated Yolo County is vacant at this time.

Unlike investor-owned utilities, CCEs allow for community engagement and involvement, an “absolutely critical” part of the enterprise, Hunter says.

“Anybody who has an opinion — and a lot of people do — can come and talk to us,” she says of the Community Advisory Committee. “Or, they can go downtown (in Davis) and walk into the administrative offices of Valley Clean Energy and talk to the staff.

“What’s better than that? You combine that kind of access with highly skilled administration and good technical background, and it’s a win-win.”

Adds Aulman, “The beauty of VCE is that it’s ‘effortless.’ As a customer, you don’t have to do anything and you’re already getting 42 percent renewable energy, surpassing PG&E, plus the opportunity to opt up to UltraGreen.” That 100 percent renewable portfolio is offered by VCE for a few dollars more per month.

“In terms of opting up, do the math, look at your bill and opt up,” Aulman says. “That’s the logical next step.”

So, what’s next on Valley Clean Energy’s to-do list?

In the near term, Frerichs says, it’s the implementation of a $2.9 million grant the agency received this winter from SACOG, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, to build up to 65 electric-vehicle charging stations throughout Yolo County.

The grant also provides for as many as 10 mobile EV chargers and an electric bus serving downtown Davis and the UC Davis campus.

In the longer term, CAC members see a potpourri of potential projects: perhaps a community solar farm, Aulman says, or small hydro projects or wind farms in Yolo County, Hunter says.

For Braun, the dream includes shaping the energy future of Davis, Woodland and unincorporated Yolo County “better than it is being shaped now.”

“Regardless of what VCE does, the electricity sector will be undergoing profound changes in the next decades,” he says. “Local energy systems will be much smarter and more completely integrated with building energy and local transportation infrastructure.

“VCE could hope to play a crucial role guiding energy customers and their communities through a process that results in greatly increased local energy resilience and much greater local energy self-reliance,” Braun adds.

“This will take innovative local programs, innovative rate-setting, innovative procurement processes plus deep engagement with customers, communities and universities.

“The key to growing into this role will be visionary leadership plus financial health and stability that makes sustained local and organizational capacity building possible,” he concludes.

Want to be a part of that exciting future? Attend a Community Advisory Committee meeting and volunteer your time and talent.

Or, if you’re a resident of unincorporated Yolo County — which covers all of the county except the cities of Davis, Woodland, Winters and West Sacramento — apply for the vacant seat and represent the interests of your neighbors and Yolo’s farmers.

Find an application at https://valleycleanenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/VCE-CAC-Description-and-Application-1.pdf.

While unincorporated Yolo County has only 14 percent of Valley Clean Energy’s residential customers and 24 percent of its commercial customers, it has 98 percent of the agricultural customers, says Marsha Baird, a CAC member.

“As a member of the Community Advisory Committee representing unincorporated Yolo County, part of my role is to make sure the interests of the agricultural customer are considered,” she continues.

“For example, farms use large amounts of electricity to run their irrigation systems, making electricity rates very important to the success of local farmers.”

 

VCE energy advisers offer expertise, by Special to the Enterprise, Davis Enterprise, April 2019.

SMUD withdraws anti-solar Grid Access Charge

One constant in the solar industry is attempts by utilities to either kill rooftop solar outright or at least claw back revenue from their customers who adopt solar. And from our work in covering this subject, we’ve seen it apply to publicly owned utilities as well as those owned by investors.

And while utilities are largely moving towards more indirect, subtle routes like higher fixed charges, from time to time they still do attempt to impose discriminatory charges on PV systems, which are hard to justify as anything but an attempt to stop rooftop solar dead in its tracks.

This was the route which was recently pursued by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), which had proposed a per-kilowatt monthly charge on its customers who had the audacity to install rooftop PV under net metering.

And it was not a small charge either; as estimated by California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA), SMUD’s Grid Access Charge would have added $44 – $77 each month to the utility bill for the typical residential customer with solar.

However, yesterday (April 22nd) SMUD abruptly withdrew the charge, and says that it will now go through a stakeholder process and develop additional studies and analysis in 2019, including an effort to “further engage” with solar customers.

>1,200 emails

In an addendum explaining the change, SMUD alludes to receiving “public input and feedback on this item”, which is the utility’s way of delicately saying that this proposal angered and mobilized large numbers of their customers.

According to Solar Rights Alliance (SRA), which organizes consumers who own solar, want to go solar or simply support the right of residents to install and generate their own electricity, more than 1,200 SMUD customers sent emails in to protest the charge over a five-day period.

SRA mobilized its members, and Executive Director Dave Rosenfeld says that once word got out the movement spread on its own. “They started spreading the word next door, and then we had people who went door to door to solar homes with fliers,” Rosenfeld told pv magazine. “This was being discussed at the kitchen table, and on various online forums.”

This culminated in an estimated 30 SMUD customers showing up to a workshop that the utility held today, even after the Grid Access Charge had been cancelled.

Not out of the woods yet

But while SMUD has withdrawn the Grid Access Charge, its language suggests that it will still attempt to impose charges on its customers who go solar, as the utility is claiming $30 million in “cross subsidies” between its customers who adopt solar and other customers.

However, it is not clear that this number has been generated using a robust analysis of actual costs and benefits of distributed generation. Instead, CALSSA Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro describes a “simplistic” analysis that went into justifying the proposal, including the assumption that power generated by rooftop solar is a burden and not an asset to other ratepayers.

It is unclear how much SMUD will modify its approach through the resulting stakeholder process, however the utility’s leaders have a motivation for reaching consensus that the executives and boards of investor-owned utilities do not: the potential of being voted out if they anger their customers.

“It’s the only utility in California that is truly democratically elected,” Del Chiaro told pv magazine. She contrasts the election of SMUD board members with that of other public utilities such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), whose board is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

Solar bill of rights

Utility proposals to impose discriminatory charges on their customers would be illegal if SB288, dubbed the Solar Bill of Rights, passes the state’s legislature. The bill passed the Senate Energy Committee two weeks ago, and will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which should be its last stop before the Senate floor.

SMUD argued against the legislation in the committee hearing, however it may have unwittingly built support for the bill by its attempt to impose the Grid Access Charge. “It underscores why we absolutely need the solar bill of rights – that a utility could get away with a discriminatory fee like this,” stated SRA’s Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld says that not only does this attempt at a fee strengthen SRA’s case, but that it has alerted many SMUD customers to this issue, and the danger that they could be subject to discriminatory charges if the bill is not passed.

He notes that the large majority of the 52 people who attended the Solar Bill of Rights hearing in Sacramento were utility customers and solar workers, some of whom were from SMUD’s territory. And he says that this is just the beginning.

“We will see lawmakers hearing a lot more from citizens in the next weeks and months,” predicts Rosenfeld.

 

SMUD withdraws anti-solar Grid Access Charge, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine, April 23, 2019.

SMUD, PG&E study electric long-haul trucking future

Utilities along the entire West Coast are joining together to create an electric highway to power long-haul shipping from Mexico to Canada along Interstate 5.

The effort includes Sacramento Municipal Utility District and PG&E Corp. (NYSE: PCG), which with other utilities are preparing to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure for trucks to improve air quality and efficiency on the busy shipping corridor.

“It’s these types of opportunities that continue to push us toward a more sustainable future,” said Bill Boyce, manager of electric transportation with SMUD, in a news release. “We are proud to partner on a local, regional and national level to reduce emissions from vehicles, and this effort to electrify our trade corridors will have significant benefits to the communities we serve.”

In Sacramento, SMUD has been working to develop electricity as a transportation fuel since 1990 as part of its mandate to improve air quality. The entire Sacramento region is working to position itself as a leader in clean transportation and autonomous vehicle technology.

In total, more than 24 municipal utilities are sponsoring the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative, a study that will decide the best way to create sufficient electric truck charging for nearly 1,400 miles from Blaine, Washington, to San Ysidro near the Mexican Border.

The utilities are going to study the best way to provide EV charging on I-5 — and on major connecting routes — to power heavy-duty electric trucks that are now being introduced into truck fleets. Part of the goal of the study is to determine key charging and infrastructure locations. The study is expected to be concluded by the end of this year, with implementation recommendations expected as soon as next year.

 

SMUD, PG&E study electric long-haul trucking future, by Mark Anderson, Sacramento Business Journal, April 22, 2019.