Sunrun Wins Another Capacity Contract for Aggregated Home Storage

A network of residential energy systems will help Oakland, California wean itself off fossil-fueled peakers.

East Bay Community Energy, which buys power for Alameda County in Northern California, approved a contract Wednesday night to pay Sunrun for 500 kilowatts of capacity from residential solar-plus-storage.

The 10-year contract, which goes into effect in 2022, marks a second contracted win for Sunrun’s theory of using aggregated residential energy assets for grid services. The company won its first virtual power plant contract in February to supply ISO New England with 20 megawatts by 2022.

San Francisco-based Sunrun is the leading installer of U.S. residential solar systems.

“This kind of deal is a critical catalyst for this transition to customers as the prosumer, investing in energy to serve their own needs and also to serve the grid,” said EBCE CEO Nick Chaset.

As a community-choice aggregator (CCA), EBCE buys power for county residents with a mission to make the fuel mix cleaner while maintaining affordable prices.

The organization has to meet state obligations for resource adequacy on behalf of its customers, and that’s where the clean energy goal gets tricky: The market’s answer for capacity tends to be gas-burning peaker plants. If EBCE wants to ensure grid reliability and commit to high levels of carbon-free power, it needs to bring something new to the table.

It did just that with the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative, a collaborative effort to replace a jet-fuel-burning peaker in Oakland’s Jack London Square. The group contracted with Vistra last month for a 20-megawatt battery, the largest standalone battery to be built for a CCA.

Whereas the 20-megawatt battery will literally replace the peaker turbines, the Sunrun deal will provide 2 megawatt-hours of energy storage (500 kilowatts with 4-hour duration) scattered throughout the service territory, but with an emphasis on West Oakland.

“The project is not as closely linked to this specific peaker; it’s more broadly adding it to our portfolio of resources that are going to help us avoid general peakers,” Chaset said. “We’re paying you to perform and that performance will help relieve us of the obligation to buy peaker plants.”

As a general rule, residential batteries cost more than utility-scale batteries due to economies of scale. In this case, however, EBCE is not buying any equipment outright; it is contracting for capacity with developers that draw other revenue streams from the assets.

Chaset declined to disclose the price of the decentralized contract, but said “there was no major premium” compared to the larger batteries.

“This was very competitive on a price perspective with the bigger front-of-the-meter batteries that we’re procuring,” Chaset said.

The contract stipulates that Sunrun will pay prevailing wages to install the equipment on low-income single-family and multifamily homes within Alameda County.

Audrey Lee, Sunrun’s vice president for energy services, noted that the community-oriented nature of CCAs makes a natural fit with Sunrun’s “people-powered” grid philosophy. Instead of filling the capacity need entirely with utility assets hooked up to the grid, EBCE elected to meet some of its obligation in a way that gives community members access to more clean power and resilience.

“We hope it’s something we can replicate across California,” Lee said. “The growth of the CCAs in California has been enormous.”

Across the state, 19 CCAs now buy power for more than 4 million customers, according to industry group CalCCA. The traditional investor-owned utilities maintain the poles and wires that deliver that power.

Now that the model contract has been figured out, Chaset said he could see behind-the-meter capacity scaling to multimegawatt levels, and that multiple CCAs could join forces for regional distributed energy programs.

The new capacity revenue will allow Sunrun to add batteries alongside solar, giving the residential buildings access to backup power for critical circuits.

The contract also raises the possibility that Sunrun could enlist some of its thousands of existing solar and storage customers in a similar crowdsourced capacity program. That would be technically possible, Lee said.

“Our BrightBox systems today in California are programmed to do time-of-use load-shifting as well as backup power,” she said. “If they were enrolled with a capacity contract, those batteries can be easily reprogrammed to discharge to provide that capacity.”

At the end of 2018, Sunrun had installed roughly 5,000 BrightBox systems nationally, with California as the dominant market.

The new arrangement builds on Sunrun’s commitment to supply 100 megawatts of solar power to low-income housing, said Lee. In moving toward that goal, announced last fall, Sunrun draws on funds from California’s Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing program and works with building owners to deliver solar at no cost to tenants.

 

Sunrun Wins Another Capacity Contract for Aggregated Home Storage, by Julian Spector, Greentech Media, July 18, 2019.

Sebastopol City Council goes greener

At its meeting on July 16, the Sebastopol City Council voted to switch the city’s utility accounts over to Evergreen, a 100% local and renewable energy program from Sonoma Clean Power. The switch will cost the city an additional $41,500 a year.

“This is the single most important thing we can do that will have the largest effect on our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Council­member and Sonoma Clean Power Board Member Patrick Slayter.

The council rejected Councilmember Michael Carnacchi’s suggestion that they examine other options, such as PG&E’s renewable energy programs, instead arguing for the advantages of local energy sourcing and local control that Sonoma Clean Power provides.

Mayor Neysa Hinton initially suggested that the council start out by switching 50% of the city’s utility accounts to the Evergreen program, but in the end she went along with the majority and voted to go whole hog.

Carnacchi, who expressed his support for some kind of 100% renewable option, abstained.

The council also voted to strike a blow for zero waste by voting to go paperless, moving from paper documentation to electronic. They approved a resolution to provide councilmembers with city-owned iPads to be used exclusively for city business or, alternatively, give councilmembers a $600 stipend to buy their own tablet, which could be used for both city and personal business. Councilmembers could still request paper versions if they wanted. The council said financially this would be a wash — the money the city saves in paper costs would pay for the cost of tablets.

 

At the beginning of the evening, councilmembers accepted a giant check for $1.5 million from District 10 Assemblymember Marc Levine to pay for damage caused by the February flooding.

“All of the sudden we have a little more money,” said Councilmember Una Glass, noting that now the city could shift some of the money originally slated for flood repair to other programs, including perhaps a city grant writer or a green energy incentive program for citizens. The council agreed to re-examine the budget in light of these changes at its mid-year review.

 

Sebastopol City Council goes greener, by Sonoma West Staff, Sonoma West, July 17, 2019.

Berkeley first city in California to ban natural gas in new buildings

The city of Berkeley will no longer allow natural gas pipes in many new buildings starting Jan. 1, 2020. It’s the first city in California to pass such a law, officials said.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of the legislation, put forward by downtown Councilwoman Kate Harrison’s office and council co-sponsors Cheryl Davila, Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn.

Public support was also unanimous during 45 minutes of comment from community members and representatives of the University of California’s Office of the President (UCOP), energy giant PG&E and the Sierra Club, among others who spoke.

UCOP Associate Director of Sustainability Ryan Bell told officials UC is on board with the idea and already has a policy, as of July 1, to avoid natural gas space and water heating in most new facilities. The university has all-electric buildings — from labs and dormitories to office space — going up around the state “in all climate zones.”

“This is proving to be a cost-effective way to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals, saving money in all building types,” Bell said. “Having a strong policy is essential to overcoming ‘business as usual’ in development practices and encourage the next generation of buildings being constructed.”

The crowd applauded PG&E Public Policy and External Affairs Executive Darin Cline when he made the utility company’s position clear: “PG&E supports local government policies that promote all-electric new construction.”

To kick off the agenda item, Councilwoman Harrison gave a lengthy presentation to put the law in context and answer some of the questions that have arisen in the community. She said electricity is easier and faster than gas to reinstate after a power outage and that, in Berkeley, electricity is cleaner than gas: at least 78% carbon-free.

Laws like this are important, according to the ordinance and prior city policies, because Berkeley is in the midst of a “climate emergency.” Natural gas makes up 27% of Berkeley’s greenhouse gas emissions and 73% of its building sector emissions, Harrison said. Despite stalwart efforts, the city is “approximately 18% behind its 2020 [Climage Action Plan] goal and will fall short of its ultimate goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

“We have to take more drastic action,” Harrison said during her comments on the dais.

“The effect of this legislation will be that builders will be prohibited from applying for entitlements that include gas infrastructure — gas piping to heat water, space, food, etc. — except for specific building systems that have not yet been modeled for all-electric design” by the state, according to the council report on the ordinance.

The new law would apply only to building types that have been reviewed and analyzed by the California Energy Commission. Each time the state expands its models and analyses, according to the way the ordinance was designed, the city will be able to update its law without returning to council for a new vote.

 

Natural gas may be allowed in new projects if an applicant can show that “it is not physically feasible to construct the building” without it, according to the ordinance language. New construction must be built so it can be converted to all-electric in the future, however.

The new ordinance includes exemptions for internal accessory dwelling units (those that are built inside an existing home) as well as projects that the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board or planning staff determine are in the public interest. The law includes a recommendation for a two-year staff position, which would be paid for using the city’s excess equity fund. (The position could be extended once the city sees how the pilot effort goes, staff said.)

Harrison’s presentation included a fondue demonstration by a staffer who set up an electric induction burner, then melted chocolate and dipped fresh strawberries into it. To show how safe the burner was, the staffer placed a sheet of paper between the burner and a pot to prove that the paper would not catch fire as the chocolate melted. The scent of chocolate filled the room as Harrison completed her initial remarks, causing no small amount of distraction.

Multiple speakers during public comment said they had shifted from gas to induction burners in their Berkeley homes and were happy with the change.

Harrison said the legislation had benefited from extensive input from city staff and council’s Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment, & Sustainability committee.

California Energy Commission Chairman David Hochschild, who has lived in Berkeley for nearly a decade, told officials he was very much in favor of the ordinance. He said it would be yet another chance for Berkeley to lead the way, as it had done with laws banning smoking and supporting marriage equality, curb cuts and recycling, among other policies.

 

“You see those changes go to other cities, then go up to the state level and then go to the national level,” Hochschild said. “That’s how change happens.”

Hochschild said California has a state mandate in place to get to 100% clean energy by 2045. Electrification is the next step in that endeavor, he said. Fifty other cities in the state are “actively considering” legislation related to phasing out natural gas, he told council, “but Berkeley’s the first, thanks to you.”

Mayor Jesse Arreguín picked up on that theme during his comments in support of the new law: “Ideas start here and movements are born here,” he said, of Berkeley. Phasing out natural gas is a necessary action, he added, “not some radical pie-in-the-sky idea.”

Arreguín credited Councilwoman Davila for her resolution in 2018 to declare a climate emergency in Berkeley. He said that helped set the stage for Tuesday night’s electrification ordinance.

In her remarks, Davila said it was her son who motivated her to put forward last year’s climate emergency resolution: “This is exactly what we wanted and dreamed and hoped for,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”

See the full agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting. Meeting audio and video will be posted.

 

Berkeley first city in California to ban natural gas in new buildings, by Emilie Raguso, BerkeleySide, July 17, 2019.

Sonoma Clean Power Seeks Participants for its Lead Locally Program: Energy-Saving Upgrades Available to Eligible Homes and Businesses in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

(SANTA ROSA, CA) – Sonoma Clean Power (SCP), the public electricity provider for Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, is currently recruiting participants for a study on energy-saving technology in which homes and businesses will receive free energy-efficient equipment.

The study is part of SCP’s Lead Locally program which is funded through a grant from the California Energy Commission, along with additional support from SCP. The program aims to develop strategies to double energy efficiency in existing buildings and measure the results of the prospective technologies, prior to launching future customer programs.

“SCP wants to bring the right technologies to our community that can move us toward a cleaner energy future. Before we launch any potential rebate or incentive programs, we want to know what our community thinks,” said Chad Asay, the Programs Manager for Lead Locally.

“That’s why the Lead Locally program is asking for residents and businesses in SCP’s service territory to help evaluate these energy-saving technologies now, so that we can develop the right programs to help meet our community’s energy efficiency goals,” added Asay.

SCP is looking for approximately 35 homes and 18 businesses to receive upgrades. All the equipment studied under the Lead Locally program will be provided to the participants for free, along with any permit fees, leaving only the installation costs to be covered by the homeowner or business owner.

For residential customers, home upgrades include cooling and ventilation, air draft sealing, induction cooktops, and water heating. For businesses, upgrades include daylighting and insulation materials, as well as commercial-scale induction cooktops and dishmachines.

Participant feedback will be used to identify the best practices for installers, guide future energy-saving programs locally and state-wide, and most importantly, confirm that these technologies work well for the Sonoma County and Mendocino County communities.

Based on the results of the study, SCP plans to offer future rebates and incentives to its customers to improve the efficiency of buildings in its service territory and significantly reduce local emissions.

Additionally, SCP is opening an Advanced Energy Center in 2020 where customers will be able to learn about, test and purchase these energy-saving technologies for their home or business.

Participation requests can be submitted by visiting the Lead Locally program page on SCP’s website. Applications will be used to screen for a building’s eligibility and will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants must be willing to complete quarterly satisfaction surveys and allow energy usage monitoring for 12 to 18 months.

About Sonoma Clean Power

Sonoma Clean Power is proud to serve the Counties of Sonoma and Mendocino as a self-funded, public electricity provider. SCP’s services are practical, affordable and inclusive, empowering everyone to be part of the transition toward a clean energy future. To learn more, visit sonomacleanpower.org or call 1 (855) 202-2139.

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PG&E’s planned power shutdowns could choke off vital water supplies

PG&E’s plan to prevent wildfires with widespread power shut-offs means no lights, no refrigeration and no internet in many parts of California.

It could also mean limited use of toilets and taps, an inconvenience that water and sewer districts across the state are scrambling to address before a blackout comes and nature calls.

Utilities, including several in the Bay Area, simply don’t have the backup power to replace the electricity that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. normally provides for water delivery and sewage treatment. The agencies are trying to make their operations more energy efficient and adding alternative power sources in case the cord is cut, but it may not be enough.

Already agencies are warning customers of possible water shortages and sewer backups. A loss of water, or drop in water pressure, could also be problematic for firefighters needing to douse any blazes.

“This is a big challenge,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, a trade group representing hundreds of utilities. “It’s operationally challenging, it’s very expensive, and some of our member agencies are incurring explosive costs.”

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Silicon Valley customers have access to cleaner power than CA or the U.S. average

July 9, 2019 – The Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies has released a comparative analysis of local sources of power by emissions intensity. Three community choice energy (CCE) programs now serve 89% of Silicon Valley’s residential customers, and 69% of non-residential customers. PG&E, which served 91% of customers across Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in 2016 – now provides bundled energy, transmission, and distribution service to less than five percent.

“Nearly ninety percent of Silicon Valley’s energy customers are now purchasing their electricity from community choice energy programs,” said Rachel Massaro, Vice President & Director of Research at Joint Venture’s Institute for Regional Studies. “That transition happened in less than three years, and it effectively reduced the region’s overall carbon dioxide emissions from electricity by about 64%.”

Based upon the Center for Resource Solutions June 20 release of the 2019 Green-e® Residual Mix Emissions Rates, the Institute’s analysis illustrates the scale of emissions reductions associated with the procurement of 100% carbon-free power from renewable resources and hydroelectric power generation including solar and wind from within California and the western power grid. These energy sources – which are much cleaner than the traditional mix that includes coal, natural gas, and other sources of power – are a large and growing part of the portfolio of Silicon Valley’s energy providers such as PG&E, municipal utilities, and community choice energy programs.

Green-e® Energy is the leading certification program for voluntary renewable energy in North America. The 2019 Green-e® Residual Mix Emissions Rates are “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with untracked and unclaimed U.S.-based sources of electricity, based on location of consumption.” Essentially, the “residual mix” is what is leftover on the grid after all the Green-e® certified renewable energy credits that have been purchased—either alone or bundled with the power itself—are removed. These emissions rates are used to calculate the carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions associated with unspecified purchased or acquired electricity, classified as “Scope 2” emissions for carbon accounting purposes.

The Institute analysis illustrates the extent to which Silicon Valley’s electricity providers have lower emissions intensities than the “residual” CAMX region (which encompasses most of California), and the nation as a whole. As shown in the attached chart, all of the power provided to Silicon Valley electric customers carries a fraction of the emissions intensity of the U.S. grid average, and is significantly cleaner than California’s state average residual emissions intensity. PG&E sources power from hundreds of procurement contracts and has relatively clean energy with a 2017 emissions intensity factor that has declined by 67% over the past decade.

In Silicon Valley, all electricity consumers receive power sourced by either PG&E (an investor-owned utility), one of the two municipal utilities (Silicon Valley Power in the City of Santa Clara, or Palo Alto Utilities), or one of the locally-controlled public agencies sourcing clean electricity. These community choice energy options are relatively new to the region, and include Silicon Valley Clean Energy which serves 13 communities in Santa Clara County; Peninsula Clean Energy which serves 20 San Mateo County cities and the unincorporated portion of the county; and San Jose Clean Energy, the newest of the three, serving residents and businesses in San Jose since February of this year. The remaining Silicon Valley communities outside of the two counties are served by Monterey Bay Community Power (Scotts Valley) and East Bay Community Energy (Fremont and Union City); Newark opted out of joining the community choice energy program and thus remains served by PG&E.

According to Massaro, “The availability of clean electricity options locally is made possible, in large part, by the commitment of our communities and the leadership of our energy providers, in addition to the state’s role in advancing renewable energy and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.”

Silicon Valley’s relatively clean electricity has enabled the implementation of a variety of “natural gas fuel-switching” efforts. These include programs that promote the use of heat pump water heaters, induction cooktops, and the exchange of multi-family gas wall furnaces with heat pump space heaters. It has also helped to advance electric vehicle adoption throughout the region. Additionally, efforts to promote “building decarbonization” are underway which illuminate the environmental, air-quality, and cost benefits of all-electric buildings.

DATA NOTES AND RESOURCES

  • The three locally-controlled public-agency electricity providers have served customers since October 2016 (Peninsula Clean Energy), April 2017 (Silicon Valley Clean Energy), and February 2019 (San Jose Clean Energy)
  • Palo Alto Utilities has provided 100% carbon-neutral electricity since 2013. The 2018 emissions intensity is negative because the City’s renewable energy projects throughout the state generated more than the City used that year. These generation assets added excess renewable energy, and thus the utility helped reduce the carbon footprint of the grid in addition to providing carbon neutral power to its customers.
  • Peninsula Clean Energy aims to be 100% GHG-free by 2021 and 100% renewable energy by 2025
  • 2017 Power Content Labels for each provider and Integrated Resource Plans (IPRs) for the municipal utilities are available on the California Energy Commission website
  • IRPs for the community choice energy providers are available on their websites: PCESVCESJCE
  • The emissions intensity factor for PG&E and other utilities are available through the Climate Registry

ELECTRIFICATION PROGRAMS

column chart
*estimate

2 pie charts
Notes: PG&E’s emissions factor is from The Climate Registry, and customer counts were from publicly available data on PG&E’s website; Other emissions intensities and customer counts were provided directly by Silicon Valley’s energy providers. Data Sources: Silicon Valley’s energy providers; The Climate Registry; Center for Resource Solutions; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Silicon Valley data include Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Additional Silicon Valley data is available in the 2019 Silicon Valley Index and at the Institute’s online data hub.

For more information on the Center for Resource Solutions’ 2019 Green-e® Residual Mix Emissions Rates, visit www.green-e.org/2019-residual-mix or contact .

For additional information on Silicon Valley’s local energy providers, please visit the following websites:

All images from Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Data Release: Power Emissions Intensity Comparisons, by Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, July 9, 2019.

Final Enrollment Numbers Show SFPUC Has More Than Quadrupled CleanPowerSF Customers in Past Year

San Francisco, CA— With the final enrollment of CleanPowerSF now officially completed, more than 376,000 businesses and residents are customers in the City’s local renewable energy program, marking a 360 percent increase from last year’s totals.

The program, which is operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), provides renewable electricity services that are cheaper and cleaner than services offered by Pacific, Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

“With our last major enrollment now officially completed, more people than ever in San Francisco are embracing safe, reliable and affordable electricity services through CleanPowerSF,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “Our residents and businesses understand that meeting our City’s ambitious environmental goals requires action now. They are leading the path to a better tomorrow for San Francisco.”

CleanPowerSF began its fiscal year on July 1, 2018 with a total of 81,613 businesses and residents receiving CleanPowerSF service. Following the April enrollment period, which was the last and largest major rollout of CleanPowerSF, that total has risen to 376,119, more than a fourfold increase.

The 376,119 total customers exceeded the SFPUC’s initial projection of 360,000 customers, and the opt-out rate of 3.3 percent was below the agency’s 7 percent projection. As a Community Choice Aggregation program, residents and businesses are automatically enrolled in CleanPowerSF, although they can “opt-out” of the initiative.

Since it launched in 2016, CleanPowerSF has consistently offered a cleaner energy alternative to PG&E. In its initial year, CleanPowerSF’s Green product was 7 percent more renewable than the PG&E default product, and for the past two years, the Green service has been approximately 10 percent more renewable. Since its launch, CleanPowerSF’s energy procurement has effectively reduced the greenhouse gas emissions footprint of San Francisco’s electricity usage by 83% from 1990 levels, or the equivalent of removing about 134,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.

In addition to providing cleaner energy options, CleanPowerSF also saved those customers $3.5 million by delivering rates that are cheaper than the alternatives offered by PG&E.

Having access to a cheaper, greener energy product is a key priority of San Francisco residents. According to a poll conducted earlier this year, nearly 70 percent of respondents were in favor of the SFPUC delivering public power to the City, citing more affordable rates and cleaner energy alternatives as reasons for their support.

To create awareness about the CleanPowerSF program, the SFPUC sent out more than 1.1 million mailers to residents and businesses, contacted 130 organizations and hosted more than 30 meetings in communities and neighborhoods, along with engaging in targeted multi-lingual campaigns. Those efforts were in addition to the bi-monthly CleanPowerSF updates the agency delivered at SFPUC Commission meetings, which are open to the public and available to view live on SFGovTV.

Along with CleanPowerSF, the SFPUC operates the Hetch Hetchy Regional Power System, which provides 100 percent greenhouse gas free energy to public facilities, such as City Hall, San Francisco International Airport, Muni buses, schools and libraries. Collectively, the two systems meet approximately 80 percent of the electricity demand in San Francisco.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfwater.org.
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Final Enrollment Numbers Show SFPUC Has More Than Quadrupled CleanPowerSF Customers in Past Year, Press Release, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, July 2, 2019.

Myth Of The Month: How Can CCA Rates Be Lower Than Investor Owned Utilities?

As EBCE rolled out service to 500,000 residential and 50,000 commercial, industrial, and public customers, some wondered how it was possible that we could offer lower rates than PG&E.

Surely PG&E’s great size means it can offer economies of scale?  Surely after 100 years of service PG&E would have streamlined operations and found every efficiency gain?

Yet it’s true — EBCE’s Bright Choice product is pegged at 1.5 percent below PG&E’s standard rate.  In 2019 alone, EBCE expects to deliver nearly $8 million in bill savings to customers.

To understand how that’s possible we need to first explain the difference between EBCE, a community-owned energy provider, and PG&E, an investor-owned utility.

STRUCTURAL ADVANTAGES OF PUBLIC OWNERSHIP

The American Public Power Association (APPA) reports that public power customers have paid lower rates on average than investor-owned utilities for decades.  As of 2014, overall rates were 6.9 percent higher for IOUs, mostly due to residential rates that were 14 percent higher.

A big part of the benefit is that public power can finance projects with tax-exempt municipal bonds, which cost around 4-5 percent, depending on the length and the financial rating of the borrower.  The rate of return for California IOUs, which is set by the state utility commission, has been around 11 percent recently, although they are requesting much higher returns to cover the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Municipal bonds are more commonly bought by individual investors as a low-risk, low-return option. In 2012, 70 percent of municipal bonds were sold to individuals, and almost half of the interest paid to individuals went to households with incomes of less than $250,000.  Nearly 60 percent of this household tax-exempt interest is earned by taxpayers older than 65 years. All in all, municipal bonds can save public utilities 25 percent over the 30-year life of a project compared to corporate bond rates.  As EBCE continues to contract for new clean energy projects, we expect to start utilizing tax-exempt municipal financing to further lower our cost energy and be even less expensive as compared to PG&E.

LOCAL ACCOUNTABILITY

EBCE is governed by twelve local elected officials who represent each of our member communities. These mayors, councilmembers and supervisors are elected every four years and are directly accountable to their constituents through the ballot box. This is significant in the context of EBCE because it focuses our organization of delivering the lowest cost of service energy possible, while also meeting our environmental and community commitments. If EBCE does not deliver, customers can not only opt out of EBCE service, but they can take action to replace EBCE Board Members through their local elections.

By comparison, PG&E is governed by a Board of Directors who are appointed by shareholders not customers. These Board Members have a legal obligation to ensure that PG&E operates in a manner to maximize shareholder value. This emphasis on shareholders demotes critical customer considerations, like energy costs, to secondary status. This is not to say that PG&E is not concerned or focused on ensuring affordable rates, I believe they are. Rather, it’s a feature of the investor owned utility model. The company, and its Board, must first deliver on its shareholders’ priorities.

In contrast, EBCE and our Board are directly accountability to our customers, which ensures that EBCE focuses on delivering on community priorities above all else.

REINVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY

For fiscal year 2020 (starting July 1) we anticipate total energy operating costs of $397 million — almost entirely for energy and resource adequacy contracts — plus total overhead operating costs of $19 million and total interest payments of $1.2 million.  (Our financials are here, toward the end of the long board document.)

Meanwhile, total revenue and other sources are forecast at $485,146,000, leaving EBCE a positive net position of about $68 million dollars.

While some of this will be absorbed by our rapidly growing operations and contributions to reserves, the balance can be directed to programs that return benefits to EBCE customers and communities.

For example, the Local Development program will have an FY 2020 budget of $6 million, which will pay for incentives for building electrification, electric vehicle charging stations, Community Investment Grants (like those recently awarded), and higher net metering rates to encourage low income and municipal customers to go solar.

The budget can also cover the higher cost of developing wind and solar generation projects in Alameda County — helping create local jobs and economic development.  The Local Development Capital Set Aside budget is designed to let EBCE pay for expected above-market energy costs from local projects like the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative (in Jack London Square) and Summit Wind (near Livermore).

In short, EBCE is designed to be a lean, clean, power procurement machine, delivering greener and cheaper power that puts our community first.  We return the savings to our customers in the form of bill savings and community investments, guided by their very own elected officials.

 

Myth Of The Month: How Can CCA Rates Be Lower Than Investor Owned Utilities?, by Nick Chaset, East Bay Community Energy, July 2, 2019.

SVCE: Cash Prizes Available to Homeowners, Developers, Builders and Architects for Non-Polluting Electric Homes and Buildings

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) launched a new program that offers cash awards to owners, developers, builders, architects and designers of all-electric homes and buildings. The goal of the All-Electric Showcase Awards Program is to feature building examples that showcase the benefits of all-electric construction in Silicon Valley. Utilizing innovative and modern electric technologies increases home health, safety, comfort and efficiency.One third of the region’s emissions come from natural gas in buildings, which is used as the primary fuel source for space and water heating. SVCE procures clean electricity from carbon-free sources for residents and businesses in our local communities. When buildings are designed to run entirely on clean electricity instead of natural gas, they are better for the climate, local air quality and public health.

“By promoting examples of modern all-electric homes and buildings, SVCE is showing the public that carbon-free building is possible and already exists in our community,” says Dr. Aimee Gotway Bailey, Director of Decarbonization and Grid Innovation at SVCE. “We’re proud to be supporting and showcasing the future of architecture and construction.”

All-electric buildings are safer for inhabitants. Natural gas leaks are dangerous, and the combustion of fossil fuels indoors requires that we install carbon monoxide detectors. According to the California Air Resources Board, natural gas use in homes produces harmful pollutants that can have dangerous effects on indoor air quality. In buildings that use electricity for space heating, water heating and cooking, residents are safe from this threat.

SVCE is offering awards of $3,000 for single-family homes, $2,000 for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and $5,000 for multifamily residences and commercial buildings such as hotels, offices, retail spaces and restaurants. An additional $1,000 bonus is offered for multifamily projects that qualify as affordable housing.

Through this program, SVCE will recognize leaders in our community who are reducing local emissions and promoting a healthier Silicon Valley by powering their homes and buildings solely with clean electricity. The agency will collect and display these resources to increase awareness of all-electric buildings and to encourage other homeowners and building industry stakeholders to pursue all-electric buildings.

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

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.