A study released recently by the Center for Climate Protection and Fosterra Clean Energy Consulting finds that California’s San Joaquin Valley could enjoy significant economic benefits by establishing Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs and pursuing local renewable energy projects. Looking at three counties—San Joaquin, Fresno, and Tulare Counties—alone, the study estimates that, conservatively, the region could expect to see the addition of approximately 8,400 jobs and $845 million in economic activity from 2019 to 2024, if it were to provide only 10 percent of the region’s electricity needs from local solar.
The full study can be found at https://climateprotection.org/our-work/reports/
A key finding of the report is that significant local economic benefit is directly correlated with local renewable energy investment. Community Choice Energy agencies introduce choice to customers by bringing competition to a market currently controlled by regulated monopolies.
“This report is intended to help San Joaquin Valley’s policymakers realize the vision of Community Choice Energy as a game-changing jobs-creator and economic powerhouse,” said Ann Hancock, the Center for Climate Protection’s Executive Director.
The report evaluates three potential scenarios of local clean energy purchasing as part of a CCE strategy to increase renewable power supplied to residents in San Joaquin County, Fresno County, and Tulare County. For the purpose of its analysis, the primary clean energy technology was assumed to be solar photovoltaic, and the “local region” included each of the three selected counties, calculated individually and collectively.
Under the most optimistic scenario, where 33 percent of power would be generated locally, 27,600 jobs would be created, with $2.02 billion in economic benefits.
In the San Joaquin Valley, growth of solar power for both utility-scale and smaller commercial and residential projects has been strong. This report finds that CCEs can accelerate the growth of larger-scale solar installations through a variety of strategies, such as direct procurement of utility-scale projects and feed-in-tariffs.
Ismael Herrera, Associate Director of Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development said, “We are pleased to see this study come out as it offers further support that adopting renewables, in this case via Community Choice Energy, builds economic strength in the Central Valley.”
Community Choice Energy programs are local programs that buy and can generate electricity for residents and businesses. Created by state law in 2002, a Community Choice Energy agency has the authority to set rates, develop energy assets, and offer energy efficiency programs, along with other services. The distribution utility, PG&E or SCE in the Central Valley, continues to provide transmission, distribution, grid maintenance, metering, and billing for customers.
There are currently eight operational Community Choice Agencies in California with eight additional ones launching soon. All told, 28 out of the 58 counties and over 300 cities in California are either operational or are in some stage of evaluating Community Choice Energy.
Community Choice Energy programs offer electricity rates that are competitive with investor-owned utilities. In fact, Community Choice rates offered by the Northern California agencies run about two to three percent lower than PG&E’s rates. In the first two years of operation, Sonoma Clean Power customers saved $62 million.
Community Choice programs also provide greener electricity than their investor-owned utility competitors. MCE Clean Energy supplies 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. For Sonoma Clean Power and Lancaster Choice Energy, it is 36 percent. PG&E is at 29.2 percent.
To download a copy of this report, entitled, “Community Choice Energy: What is the Economic Impact of Local Renewable Power Purchasing? A San Joaquin Valley California Case Study” go to: https://climateprotection.org/our-work/reports/
The Climate Center is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, June 29 from Noon to 1pm to present the paper’s findings. Panelists will include Ben Foster, the paper’s author, and Ismael Herrera, the Associate Director of Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development. Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/552143236682097922
About the Center for Climate Protection:
Founded in 2001, the Center for Climate Protection works with business, government, youth, and the broader community to advance practical, science-based solutions for significant greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Center’s mission is to inspire, align, and mobilize action in response to the climate crisis. http://www.climateprotection.org
Ann Hancock, Executive Director, Center for Climate Protection
707-525-1665, ext. 112 | ann(at)climateprotection(dot)org
Woody Hastings, Renewable Energy Manager, Center for Climate Protection
707-525-1665, ext. 117 I woody(at)climateprotection(dot)org
Ben Foster, President, Fosterra Clean Energy Consulting
646-250-4241 | ben.foster(at)fosterra(dot)com