Bay Area Community Energy Agencies Kick Off New Program to Provide Local Resiliency

Oakland, Redwood City, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale, Calif. – Three Bay Area Community Choice Energy agencies and one municipal utility are joining forces to ramp up efforts to help stabilize California’s electricity grid and provide reliable power. East Bay Community Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Power will announce a new program on November 5 to address the resiliency needs of our communities in the wake of multiple, on-going power shut offs and the threat of wildfires. The program will offer grid-stabilizing technology to provide power for thousands of homes and businesses in Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties, including those hit by recent PG&E power shutoffs.

The four public power agencies will be hosting a press event:

  • When: Tuesday, November 5 at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

  • What: Press event to discuss community resilience solutions enacted by a coalition of local public power providers

  • Where: Fremont Fire Station #6, 4355 Central Ave, Fremont, CA 94536 — the first fire station in the U.S. with a solar microgrid

  • Agenda: Comments from elected officials (including Fremont Mayor Lily Mei), Board members of the power agencies (including Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb, Portola Valley Vice Mayor Jeff Aalfs), CEOs of the power agencies, and Fremont Fire Department.

RSVP to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/79635093709.

Dan Lieberman | Director of Marketing

$10 Million for Emergency Backup Power During PG&E Outages Committed by Peninsula Clean Energy

REDWOOD CITY, CA – October 28, 2019 – The Peninsula Clean Energy Board of Directors voted to commit up to $10 million over three years to fund clean backup power for San Mateo County’s medically vulnerable residents and essential community services during PG&E power shutoffs.

“This investment will help provide the most vulnerable Peninsula Clean Energy customers and facilities with electricity during blackouts,” said Jan Pepper, CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy. “In just two weeks, PG&E has already turned the lights out on portions of San Mateo County three times. The planned outages by PG&E are expected to continue for years. We are acting now to develop emergency power solutions for those customers who are most at risk.

Peninsula Clean Energy purchases the electricity for 290,000 homes, businesses, and community facilities in San Mateo County while PG&E continues to maintain the grid. Nearly 60,000 Peninsula Clean Energy accounts have been affected by PG&E power shutoffs over the last several days. This includes medically vulnerable residents who rely on electricity to power lifesaving devices such as ventilators.

Peninsula Clean Energy will develop programs to support the installation of battery backup systems powered by renewable energy on eligible homes and community facilities with greatest need. These clean power options are expected to increasingly replace backup diesel generators. Diesel generators emit dangerous pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Peninsula Clean Energy’s new emergency power backup programs will begin rolling out next year. Governor Newsom’s recently announced statewide funding for emergency power backup systems is expected to supplement this effort. Peninsula Clean Energy is also collaborating with other Bay Area community choice energy agencies and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on resiliency programs.

“Peninsula Clean Energy is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout San Mateo County,” said Pepper. “We will offer cleaner, economical alternatives to diesel generators to protect medically sensitive customers and our community service providers. These programs are part of fulfilling the organization’s mission.”

 

About Peninsula Clean Energy

Peninsula Clean Energy is San Mateo County’s official electricity provider. It is a public local community choice energy agency that provides all electric customers in San Mateo County with cleaner electricity at lower rates than those charged by the local incumbent utility. Peninsula Clean Energy saves customers an estimated $18 million a year. Peninsula Clean Energy, formed in March 2016, is a joint powers authority made up of the County of San Mateo and all 20 cities and towns in the County. The agency serves approximately 290,000 accounts. www.PeninsulaCleanEnergy.com

Peninsula Clean Energy Contact

Kirsten Andrews-Schwind

Peninsula Clean Energy

kandrews-schwind@peninsulacleanenergy.com

M: 650.260.0096

Muni tries to tackle environmental justice with new SF green bus zones

As a Muni 47-Van Ness bus pulled into its stop at 11th and Harrison streets on a recent weekday morning, something almost imperceptible happened.

As the rumbling engine wheezed to a stop, a hush fell over the bus’ interior, and its quivering floor suddenly stopped vibrating. The vehicle was almost silent.

The bus had switched off its combustion engine and gone all-electric, temporarily eliminating its diesel emissions. The switch to battery power is automatic any time the 47-Van Ness crosses into the “green zone,” an area that stretches just under a mile from the 11th and Harrison stop heading inbound to Fisherman’s Wharf, and from Bryant and Sixth streets traveling outbound to the Caltrain depot.

The new green zones — nine in total dotting each quadrant of the city — were picked with environmental justice in mind, Muni officials told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview. The idea is to reduce emissions in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income households and people of color. Those communities often suffer from higher rates of air pollution — largely from vehicle emissions — which cause higher rates of respiratory illnesses.

The green zones cut through neighborhoods identified in Muni’s equity strategy, which aims to improve service in low-income areas.

Read more

Solar, and solar plus storage records *possibly/probably* set in California

Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) has announced two power purchase agreements (PPA) with an average price of 2.2¢/kWh. The individual project pricing, total solar modules onsite, and expected volumes of electricity delivered on an annual basis were blacked out in the draft PPAs available to the public (236 page pdf). But we were able to get the following information on the two contracts/projects:

  • sPower Solar + Storage Project: 20-year agreement for 125 MW of solar power and 80 MW/160 MWh of battery storage in southern California, developed by Salt Lake City-based sPower
  • Edwards Solar Project: 15-year agreement for 100 MW of solar power and virtual storage in Kern County, developed by San Diego-based Terra-Gen

The project was announced by EBCE CEO Nick Chaset on Twitter:

STOP THE PRESSES – @PoweredbyEBCE has formally concluded its first major renewable energy procurement and we are pleased to announce that we have contracted for over 500 MWs of California solar at the astoundingly low average price of $22/MWh.

While the exact pricing on either of the two projects was withheld, it is probable both of these projects have set pricing records for the United States – but we must also add caveats to solar plus storage projects now that we’re seeing a greater variety of large scale projects.

In the linked to Google spreadsheet the equations can be seen that developed the below image, which suggest that the blended rate of the two projects is still greater than the current record holder 8minute Solar Energy, and Jackpot Solar’s Idaho project. However, if we consider again that the two projects “average” 2.2¢/kWh ($22/MWh) – then we ought assume that the solar only project is priced higher than the solar+storage project. And, if we lower the price of the Edwards Solar project to 2.097¢/kWh, then accounting for the escalator and discount rates, we see that it would beat out 8minute’s record – and that the average between the two projects would allow for the sPower solar+storage project to also be lower priced than 8minute’s recently signed Eland project.

Again though, these are speculative values by this pv magazine USA author, as EBCE noted the individual project data was withheld, and it was blacked out in the above draft PPAs.

As well – and this one is important – when considering the “value” of the energy storage project as compared to others, the total amount of energy storage involve in the project is very important to how much energy storage would be included. The sPower project contains 80 MW / 160 MWh – much smaller than the 300 MW / 1,200 MWh volume included in the above linked to Eland project. So while, we *possibly/probably* would see a lower sticker price, it’s a different type of project that is being delivered. And this is something we will have to consider as we write our pretty headlines going out into the future.

EBCE also released a summary of all new long-term agreements signed in 2019:

The Edwards Solar project is expected to reach financial close in June of 2022, with construction to begin by August of the same year, and to reach commercial operation by the end of 2022. Meaning the company believes they can deploy 100 MWac / of solar power in six months. sPower projects that construction will start by the last day of 2021, with the commercial operation date to be by the last day of 2022, and “full capacity deliverability status” by March 31, 2023.

The Edwards facility will be located on Edwards Air Force Base, will connect through Southern California Edison power lines via the Windhub 230 kV p-node. Terra-Gen has engaged D.H. Blattner & Sons to build the project, using the teams of the Operating Engineers Local 12, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Southern California District Council of Laborers and its affiliated Laborers Local 220, IBEW Local 428, and Ironworkers Locals 416 and 433 on April 8, 2018. sPower noted in their contract that while they hadn’t yet signed the agreement for construction, it will use union labor.

 

Solar, and solar plus storage records *possibly/probably* set in California, by John Weaver, PV Magazine, September 30, 2019.

East Bay Community Energy Expands Its Renewable Energy and Storage Portfolio with Two New Contracts and Memorandum of Understanding

Oakland, Calif. – At its last public board meeting, the East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) board of directors approved an additional two agreements totaling 225 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity, along with 80 MW/160 MWh (megawatt-hour) of battery energy storage, to be built in Southern California. Additional storage may be added to one of the projects. Additionally, the board discussed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for 80 MW of wind power in Alameda County. The projects build upon agreements approved by the EBCE board in June and July of this year. All approved projects combined total 550 MW of new renewable energy generation and at least 137.5 MW/390 MWh of energy storage. EBCE is a Community Choice Energy provider that serves most of Alameda County and is committed to increasing clean power within its local communities.

The two new power purchase agreements for solar in southern California are both expected to be operational in December 2022. Each contract includes a contribution to a Community Investment Fund and a commitment to use union and/or prevailing wage labor. Below is a summary of the agreement terms:

  • sPower Solar + Storage Project: 20-year agreement for 125 MW of solar power and 80 MW/160 MWh of battery storage in southern California, developed by Salt Lake City-based sPower
  • Edwards Solar Project: 15-year agreement for 100 MW of solar power and virtual storage in Kern County, developed by San Diego-based Terra-Gen

The sPower Solar + Storage Project is a 125 MW solar project with 80 MW/160 MWh of battery storage. EBCE is purchasing all output from the project including energy, renewable energy credits, and resource adequacy. In addition, EBCE will have full control to charge and discharge the battery to help bring energy into the evening hours when the solar is not generating due to the sun setting. The project is being developed by sPower, a national leader in the development, construction, and operation of solar power facilities.

The Edwards Solar Project is a 100 MW solar project on land that is part of Edwards Airforce Base. Terra-Gen was selected by Edwards Airforce Base as sole developer of solar on their lands for approximately 600 MW of total solar development. In addition, this project is a solar plus virtual storage contract that allows Terra-Gen the option to install battery storage and manage the charge and discharge, providing EBCE with negative pricing protection. EBCE has the right to procure resource adequacy in the event storage is added.

EBCE’s Board also discussed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Brookfield Renewable Partners regarding an 80 MW wind project in Alameda County. The project is in Livermore and is a repower of a former wind project that has been fully decommissioned. The expected date of operation is December 2021.

These new approved agreements supplement a growing portfolio of renewable energy and storage projects across California, which are the result of a competitive solicitation run by EBCE to deliver on its promise to increase the use of renewable energy. The portfolio has a mix of 10 to 20-year contracts along with a variety of pricing structures and contract provisions to help EBCE diversify its risk related to geographic or technology concentration. On a portfolio basis the solar projects will cost EBCE approximately $22/MWh, with a 2% inflation adjustment over time. Pricing for individual projects is confidential. Additionally, solar developers have agreed to contribute over $1,000,000 towards EBCE’s Community Investment Fund plus additional volunteer and education-related training hours.

Below is a summary of all new long-term agreements signed in 2019.

  Developer Technology Nameplate MW Storage MW County Expected Completion Term
Contracted Salka Energy Wind 57.5 N/A Alameda 12/1/2020 20
Clearway Energy Group Solar 112 N/A Kern 12/31/2020 15
Solar Frontier Americas Solar 56 N/A Tulare 12/31/2021 15
EDPR Renewables North America Solar + Storage 100 30 Fresno 12/31/2022 20
sPower Solar + Storage 125 80 SoCal 12/31/2022 20
Terra-Gen Solar + Virtual Storage 100 TBD Kern 12/31/2022 15
Evaluating Clearway Energy Group Wind 43 N/A Alameda 12/31/2021 15
Brookfield Renewable Partners Wind 80 N/A Alameda 12/31/2021 20
OCEI* Vistra Energy In front of meter storage and resource adequacy 20 20 Alameda 1/1/2022 10
esVolta In front of meter storage and resource adequacy 7 7 Alameda 12/1/2021 13
SunRun Behind the meter storage and resource adequacy 0.5 0.5 Alameda 1/1/2022 10

*OCEI – Oakland Clean Energy Initiative

Additional information from previous press releases can be found at these links:

###

About East Bay Community Energy (EBCE)
EBCE is a not-for-profit public agency that operates a Community Choice Energy program for Alameda County and eleven incorporated cities, serving more than 550,000 residential and commercial customers throughout the county. EBCE initiated service in June 2018 and is one of 19 community choice aggregation (CCA) programs operating in California. CCAs are expediting the climate action goals of their communities and those of California. EBCE is committed to providing clean power at competitive rates while reinvesting in our local communities. For more information about East Bay Community Energy, visit https://ebce.org/.

 

About sPower

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, sPower is one of the fastest-growing utility-scale renewable energy companies in the United States. sPower owns and operates more than 155 utility and commercial distribution electrical generation systems and has a portfolio of solar and wind assets exceeding 13.0 GW between operation, construction, and development. As a vertically integrated platform, with technology neutrality, sPower develops projects at the lowest cost; funds projects from development through operations; and provides access to a mature, highly viable pipeline of projects. sPower is owned by a joint venture partnership between The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES), and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation. For more information, visit www.spower.com.

About Terra-Gen 

Terra-Gen, LLC is a leading U.S. developer, owner, and operator of utility-scale renewable energy projects in North America. Terra-Gen owns approximately 1,180 MWs of wind, geothermal and solar generating capacity in operation across 33 renewable power facilities throughout the United States. Terra-Gen was formed in 2007 and is wholly owned by Energy Capital Partners.  For more information, visit www.terra-gen.com.

About Brookfield

Brookfield Renewable Partners (Brookfield) operates one of the world’s largest publicly traded, pure-play renewable power platforms. Brookfield’s portfolio consists of hydroelectric, wind, solar and storage facilities in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, and totals over 17,000 megawatts of installed capacity and an 8,000-megawatt development pipeline. Brookfield Renewable is listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges. For more information, visit https://bep.brookfield.com.

Annie Henderson | Vice President, Marketing and Account Services
East Bay Community Energy

ahenderson@ebce.org | 510-640-9681

Follow us on Facebook | Twitter LinkedIn YouTube

eBay HQ to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy through New Partnership with San José Clean Energy

San José, CA (September 19, 2019) – Today, eBay announced a partnership with San José Clean Energy (SJCE) to secure power for its San José headquarters from 100% renewable energy. SJCE’s TotalGreen service, which sources carbon-free solar, wind and geothermal energy, will power eBay’s two campuses in San José, including the company’s headquarters.

Operated by the Community Energy Department, SJCE is the City’s Community Choice Energy program. Through Community Choice, local governments like the City of San José buy electricity from cleaner energy sources, while the investor-owned utility (PG&E for San José) continues to deliver it to homes and businesses over their utility lines. SJCE is dedicated to creating a more sustainable future
for the community and future generations and plays a crucial role in Climate Smart San José, the city’s climate action plan.

“Operating in an environmentally and socially sustainable way is paramount to eBay’s operations and commitment to responsible business,” said Wendy Jones, SVP, Global Operations, eBay. “The City of San José has been our home for nearly 25 years, and we are thrilled to be able to partner with San José Clean Energy to achieve 100% renewable energy for our offices here.”

The SJCE partnership is part of eBay’s broader push to lower its carbon footprint by achieving 100% renewable energy by 2025 for its data centers and offices worldwide. eBay currently is participating in local, utility-driven green power programs around the globe. Most recently, eBay announced a partnership with Rocky Mountain Power in Utah to ensure the facilities there are supported by 100% renewable energy. Other eBay offices — including Dreilinden, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; and Portland, Oregon — all are powered by 100% renewable energy through local utility programs.

“We’re thrilled to see such demand for renewable energy from our large corporate customers,” said Lori Mitchell, Community Energy Department Director. “This demand is helping drive our investment in new renewable resources. Our local communities benefit when local government and the private sector work together to fight climate change.”

In August, SJCE signed its first long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for 100 megawatts (MW) of new solar and 10 MW of battery energy storage, to be built in Fresno County by EDP Renewables North America by the end of 2022. SJCE expects to sign two more long-term PPAs in 2019, totaling approximately 350 MW of additional new renewable resources.

About the City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California’s largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José’s transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040,
a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City’s anticipated growth through the year 2040.

About the Community Energy Department
San José Clean Energy is the new electricity generation service provider for residents and businesses in the City of San José, operated by the City’s Community Energy Department. Governed by the City Council, it provides over 328,000 residential and commercial
electricity customers with cleaner, lower carbon power options at competitive prices, from sources like solar, wind and hydropower. For more information, please visit www.SanJoseCleanEnergy.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @SJCleanEnergy.

About eBay
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) is a global commerce leader including the Marketplace, StubHub and Classifieds platforms. Collectively, we connect millions of buyers and sellers around the world, empowering people and creating opportunity for all. Founded in 1995 in San Jose, California, eBay is one of the world’s largest and most vibrant marketplaces for discovering great value and unique selection. In 2018, eBay enabled $95 billion of gross merchandise volume. For more information about the company and its global portfolio of online brands, visit www.ebayinc.com.

PG&E Alternative Headed To Pleasanton Residents, Businesses

PLEASANTON, CA — Pleasanton residents and businesses are likely going to have another choice when it comes to energy. During Tuesday night’s Pleasanton City Council meeting, council members unanimously decided to move forward to join East Bay Community Energy, a not-for-profit community choice aggregation program currently serving Alameda County and several of its cities, including nearby Dublin and Livermore.

The council members are now scheduled to vote Oct. 1 on the adoption of an ordinance and resolution to join EBCE’s Joint Powers Authority.

Under the program, EBCE will purchase electricity for Pleasanton, but PG&E will deliver the power, maintain the grid and manage the billing. The EBCE service — which is optional for residents and business owners — will appear as a separate line item on monthly PG&E bills. (Learn more here.) The EBCE program would be available to Pleasanton ratepayers starting in 2021.

According to EBCE, it purchases power with higher renewable and lower greenhouse gas content than is offered by PG&E. Other than receiving cleaner electricity at competitive prices, all other aspects of electricity service remain the same, according to EBCE.

In 2002, Assembly Bill 117 established “community choice aggregation programs” that enable local jurisdictions to offer an alternative energy option to customers.

“Council’s decision to move forward on joining EBCE now will not only meet the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but will also meet the deadline for the city to receive service by 2021 to ensure the CCA can procure sufficient energy to meet demand for the coming year,” said Nelson Fialho, Pleasanton city manager.

 

PG&E Alternative Headed To Pleasanton Residents, Businesses, by Toni McAllister, The Patch, September 18, 2019.

SV Clean Energy Issues Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Silicon – Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) has released an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Joint Action Plan (EVI Plan), which assesses and prioritizes future EV charging needs across local communities. It outlines new SVCE programs focused on deployment of charging infrastructure needed to sustain and accelerate rapid adoption of electric vehicles.

The EVI Plan describes six new programs – two focused on building a local electric vehicle charging ‘support ecosystem’ and four focused on directly deploying infrastructure:

Silicon Valley Transportation Electrification Clearinghouse (SVTEC) Regional convenings of key EVI stakeholders focused on information sharing and attracting external funding to the SVCE community
Regional EV Leadership Recognition Recurring recognition for best practices in EV infrastructure deployment at local businesses, educational institutions and public agencies
Priority Zone Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) Competitive solicitation to fund DCFC in SVCE-designated “priority zones”, including support for nearby Multi-Unit Dwelling (MUD) properties
Multi-Unit Residential Charging Technical Assistance Technical assistance and rebates for shared Level 2 charging onsite at MUD properties
Workplace Charging Rebates Level 2 charging rebates, focused primarily on small/medium businesses and mixed-use locations
Fleet Electrification Grants Competitive solicitation for fleet electrification planning support and funding for site upgrades

“As a public agency dedicated to reducing use of fossil fuels and reinvesting in our community, we have been eager to make a significant impact towards advancing electric transportation in our communities,” says Margaret Abe-Koga, SVCE Board Chair. “With this plan we are focusing our efforts and funding to the places that need the most help with EV adoption. We look forward to realizing the impact our new investments will have in the years ahead.”

While sales of EVs in the Silicon Valley region are higher than the rest of the country, wider adoption of EVs is needed to meet local and state climate goals. The EVI Plan is the result of significant research and input from many local residents, businesses, organizations and agencies that participated in stakeholder workshops, as well as customer surveys.

SVCE recently partnered with the California Energy Commission (CEC) as part of the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP), which works with local community partners to develop and implement regional incentive projects for charging infrastructure that supports the adoption of EVs statewide. The CEC’s proposed CALeVIP investment for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties is $33 million working through a regional partnership with Peninsula Clean Energy, San Jose Clean Energy, City of Palo Alto Utilities and Silicon Valley Power.

The SVCE Board of Directors committed to match the CEC’s CALeVIP funding of $6 million directed to the SVCE territory for a total of $12 million in CALeVIP for SVCE customers. In total, the SVCE Board of Directors has dedicated $8 million in program funds towards EV initiatives over the course of four years, which includes the CALeVIP match. Funding for EVI investment leveraging CALeVIP funding is expected to begin in spring 2020 and span two to four years.

“With the EV infrastructure plan, SVCE will be leveraging our program investments with external funds and harnessing strong regional partnerships to make access to EV charging much more prevalent for our communities,” says Girish Balachandran, SVCE CEO. “SVCE’s commitment to innovation is also an opportunity to unlock new technologies and strategies that will further increase EV adoption.”

Additionally, to complement the EVI Plan’s foundational investments, the next SVCE Innovation Onramp application cycle will prioritize piloting innovative mobility solutions that take a higher-risk, higher-reward approach. Innovation Onramp is an SVCE program that engages Silicon Valley’s ‘innovation ecosystem’ in addressing key technical, market and policy barriers to achieving deep decarbonization, locally and beyond. The program offers two stages of grant funding for proof of concept ($10,000 – $75,000) and funding for demonstrations ($50,000 – $100,000).

The full EVI Joint Action Plan is available at svcleanenergy.org/programs.

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.

Media Contact:
Pamela Leonard
Communications Manager

pamela.leonard@svcleanenergy.org
(408) 721-5301 x1004

SF approves legislation requiring renewable electricity sources for commercial buildings

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an ordinance that requires commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet to begin relying on electricity generated from renewable sources.

The legislation, introduced by Mayor London Breed, was passed by unanimous vote and amends existing environment code for all non-residential buildings. The ordinance requires the city’s largest buildings, more than 500,000 square feet, to rely fully on renewable electricity by 2022. In 2024, buildings larger than 50,000 square feet will have to start converting to renewable electricity. The goal is to have all those buildings using renewable electricity by 2030.

The ordinance comes after Berkeley became the first city in the nation in July to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes. But San Francisco’s measure is different, focusing on existing and new commercial buildings and not banning gas. Breed’s office called it the first such ordinance of its kind in the country. If the mayor signs it, as expected, it will go into effect in 30 days.

Read more

San Francisco Offers $2.5B to Take Over Its Share of PG&E’s Grid

San Francisco has made a $2.5 billion offer to buy Pacific Gas & Electric’s grid assets within its city limits, the most concrete step yet from cities, counties and public agencies served by the bankrupt Northern California utility to lay claim to their portions of its power grid.

Friday’s offer came in a letter from Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera to PG&E. But it began taking shape in February, a month after PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, when city officials began exploring options to take over power distribution from PG&E.

San Francisco’s bid for PG&E’s assets, while coming amidst PG&E’s bankruptcy, is rooted in a years-long dispute with the utility. City officials have long complained that PG&E has overcharged it for grid upgrades, and last year claimed that PG&E’s intransigence has delayed more than 16 major construction projects, ranging from affordable housing to public safety facilities.

“There has been a lack of investment in infrastructure over the course of the last decade by PG&E,” Herrera told KQED. “And that is, and was, motivated  primarily by pursuit of profit. That’s not something that San Francisco is going to be pursuing. We’re not interested in profit.”

Instead, San Francisco, which has unsuccessfully sought to create its own utility in the past, sees the opportunity to deliver safer, cheaper and cleaner electricity than PG&E, he said. Owning and managing its own grid could bring its infrastructure efforts closer in line with these plans.

San Francisco is also seeking to expand the reach of CleanPowerSF, the community choice aggregation (CCA) serving the city’s customers. The CCA increased its share of customers to more than 375,000 business and residential accounts as of July, up from fewer than 82,000 customers as of July 2018.

While SF seeks grid takeover, CCAs seek ‘wires-only’ PG&E

But its offer to buy PG&E’s grid assets stands somewhat in contrast to the way that other CCAs serving PG&E customers have approached the opportunity provided by the utility’s bankruptcy, its second in as many decades.

That’s because the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) has asked state regulators to consider another option for PG&E’s future — transforming it to a “wires-only” distribution grid operator, and allowing CCAs to take over the role of generating and procuring electricity.

CalCCA represents CleanPowerSF, as well as Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, Monterey Bay Community Power, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, and East Bay Community Energy. These seven CCAs have collectively taken over energy procurement for nearly half of PG&E’s 5.4 million electricity customer accounts, leaving PG&E with the responsibility to upgrade and maintain the power grid that serves them, and maintain the revenues to carry out that task.

San Francisco isn’t the only public entity to offer cash in exchange for its portion of PG&E’s grid. South San Joaquin Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley last week submitted a $116 million bid for assets in its own territory — a bid that PG&E described as significantly below the assets’ actual value, Bloomberg reported.

San Francisco’s bid was received coolly by PG&E, which noted in a statement that it has been “part of San Francisco since the company’s founding more than a century ago,” and doesn’t “believe municipalization is in the best interests of our customers and stakeholders.”

Any deal would need approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission to move ahead.

PG&E is also expected to file its official plan for emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. The utility filed for bankruptcy in January in the face of tens of billions of dollars in wildfire liabilities, and has faced alternative plans from multiple parties, ranging from large creditors to wildfire victims groups.

Michael Wara, one of the members of a California Gov. Gavin Newsom-appointed task force that advised on the state’s $21 billion utility wildfire fund legislation this summer, told KQED that San Francisco buying PG&E’s wires might end up passing wildfire-related grid upgrade costs on to other PG&E customers.

That’s because San Francisco’s grid serves a large portion of PG&E’s customers, but requires almost none of the wildfire-related upgrades that PG&E is facing for the hundreds of miles of transmission and distribution lines crossing the more rural and remote areas at highest risk of wildfires.

 

San Francisco Offers $2.5B to Take Over Its Share of PG&E’s Grid, by Jeff St. John, Greentech Media, September 9, 2019.