Integrating Environmental Stewardship Principles into Power Procurement

California’s ambitious clean energy mandate of 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045 (SB 100) will require renewable energy development to increase significantly over the next two decades. These infrastructure investments, essential to removing carbon from California’s economy, will require a significant amount of land.

Local community choice aggregators (CCAs) are leading the charge when it comes to investing   in the new clean energy resources the state will need to meet its SB 100 goal. CCAs to date having signed long-term power purchase agreements totaling more than 3,600 megawatts with new-build solar, wind, geothermal, and energy storage facilities. A key question is how are CCAs ensuring a power project delivers multiple benefits for air, water, and nature while avoiding impacts to environmentally sensitive lands and species? 

The California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) hosted a July 31 webinar that focused on this very important question, with speakers from The Nature Conservancy and Clean Power Alliance (CPA), California’s largest CCA. The webinar, “Integrating Environmental Stewardship Principles into Power Procurement,” highlighted TNC’s work on low-impact clean energy deployment and CPA’s approach to integrating environmental stewardship into clean energy procurement.  

Purchasers of electricity, such as CPA, are uniquely positioned to drive the market toward procuring renewable electricity from low-impact areas. By integrating criteria to minimize impacts to land and habitat into electricity procurement, buyers can advance their energy, climate, and conservation goals, while also reducing business risks.

CPA serves approximately 1 million customer accounts in 32 communities in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. To date, CPA has approved 10 long-term clean energy contracts totaling about 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar, wind, and energy storage resources. The aggregator is continuing to procure additional resources to meet the needs of its customers and state energy mandates. Renewable and zero-carbon energy facilities, and the electric lines that carry the electricity, can spread across thousands of acres, and if not put in the right places, can alter pristine natural lands and wildlife habitat, inhibit the ability of those lands to store carbon, and extract water from arid landscapes. Fortunately, as compared to conventional energy sources, renewable generation has the potential to harness large amounts of energy and reduce impacts on land, water, human health, and climate, through better siting in places such as rooftops, parking lots, and lands with fewer natural resources – low-impact areas.

A study by The Nature Conservancy and Energy & Environmental Economics (E3) analyzed multiple pathways to achieve California’s clean energy targets by mid-century while limiting the impacts of energy development on natural and agricultural landscapes. The study found that between 1.6 to 3.1 million acres may be needed for new wind and solar installations alone. The study demonstrates that it is possible to avoid significant land use conflicts and achieve California’s clean energy goals cost-effectively.

The Green Light Study by The Nature Conservancy and ECONorthwest explores the economic benefits of developing low-impact renewable energy projects. After performing analysis on 16 utility-scale solar projects in California, habitat mitigation costs for high biodiversity value land were greater than that of low biodiversity value land, resulting in 7 to 14-percent savings on overall project costs. These studies show that aligning environmental stewardship with renewable energy projects allows California to reach its clean energy goals by midcentury while simultaneously providing conservation benefits in a cost-effective manner.

Solar PV facility on previous agricultural lands in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California

As the demand for renewable energy increases, community choice energy providers are uniquely positioned to pioneer new approaches to procurement that integrate considerations for natural resource conservation, resulting in clean, reliable, and affordable energy for their communities while minimizing environmental impact.

In May 2018, The Nature Conservancy partnered with Clean Power Alliance (CPA), California’s largest community choice energy provider, to learn about their decision-making process for purchasing renewable energy and develop a method to inform procurement decisions through an environmental valuation framework.

CPA developed an “Environmental Stewardship Principle” to guide the agency’s approach for incorporating environmental stewardship into procurement decision-making. By September 2018, CPA adopted the following environmental stewardship principle:

“CPA is committed to being an environmental leader by providing customers with energy that delivers multiple benefits for air, water, and nature.” 

CPA’s first and second Long-term Clean Energy Request for Offers (RFO) included environmental stewardship as one of six key evaluation criteria, stating its commitment to prioritize renewable energy projects with multiple benefits and de-prioritize high conflict areas. The Nature Conservancy collaborated with other environmental NGOs to provide relevant environmental and conservation information to CPA. CPA then used this information to develop qualitative assessment questions that aligned with their environmental stewardship principle, and a qualitative evaluation framework for ranking projects according to environmental stewardship. 

Through this partnership, CPA has continued to be a champion for conservation-compatible clean energy procurement. For any further inquiries on a conservation-compatible approach to clean power procurement, please reach out to Erica Brand (, Energy Strategy Lead at The Nature Conservancy in California. For more information on Clean Power Alliance, please contact Natasha Keefer (, Director of Power Planning and Procurement. For information about the CalCCA “Community Energy Innovation” webinar series go to:

Alternative energy provider smart way to go

Every household in Agoura Hills has an exciting new opportunity to make a tangible difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air and water quality, all while saving money.

Residents have begun to receive mailers announcing the move to a new energy provider called Clean Power Alliance. Starting in February, our city, along with 30 other communities across Los Angeles and Ventura counties, will launch a community choice energy program that will offer cleaner, more renewable power at competitive rates.

How will it work?

Simply put, Clean Power Alliance purchases clean power and delivers it to your home via existing Southern California Edison lines. SCE will continue to send one bill and resolve any service issues, as before. Financial assistance programs will remain intact and you’ll still have access to rebates and incentives.

What will change?

You now have choice. Customers will have a menu of energy options to choose from.

Lean Power: This is the default rate option for Agoura Hills residents, providing 36 percent renewable content at the lowest possible cost, a 1 to 2 percent savings over SCE’s standard rates.

Clean Power: Purchase 50 percent renewable content at either no cost difference or up to a 1 percent savings compared to SCE’s standard rates.

100 percent Green Power: This will cost about 7 to 9 percent more than SCE’s base rates, but will deliver nearly three times the amount of renewables. And, it’s about 5 percent less expensive than SCE’s 100 percent Green rate.

What do you have to do?

Nothing, unless you want to change your default option. Agoura Hills residential customers will be automatically enrolled in Lean Power, but you can easily make your own energy choice or opt out entirely and return to SCE as your energy supplier. Just go to or call (888) 585-3788. Business customers will be enrolled in May.

Why did Agoura Hills choose 36 percent Lean Power as the default?

We anticipate that this service level will allow Agoura Hills residents to realize a cost savings even if SCE raises transmission rates to recoup losses from the California wildfires. That said, we encourage as many residents as possible to opt up to 100 percent Green Power if you can afford the slight increase. It’s an investment in our future.

Unsure which rate is best for you?

Grab your latest bill and head to the online bill calculator to compare and decide. Whether you enjoy the costs savings, go for 100 percent Green, or find your balance in the middle, it’s your choice.

Watch for more mailers coming soon. In the meantime, feel free to reach out or go to for more details.

Klein Lopez is an Agoura Hills City Councilmember and the city’s board member on the Clean Power Alliance. She can be reached at dlopez@


Alternative energy provider smart way to go, by Klein Lopez, The Acorn, January 17, 2019.

What Ventura’s 100 percent renewable energy rate may cost you

By next year, it’s possible a majority of Ventura’s energy consumers will be getting 100 percent of their power from renewable sources, and they will be paying up to 9 percent more.

Their bill will continue to come from Southern California Edison but they, some without knowing it, will have become customers of an alternative energy provider.

SCE will still transmit the energy, but it will be Clean Power Alliance that procured it.

On Monday night, the Ventura City Council voted 7-0 to set the default rate for customers at 100 percent renewable. That means for customers who don’t do anything, the energy they use will be virtually free of greenhouse gas emissions. It also means their rates will go up, unless they request a lower mix to come from renewable energy or to remain exclusively SCE customers.

The change is the result of 31 communities joining to form the community choice energy program. Community Choice Aggregation was designed to allow government entities to band together to buy and invest in renewable energy. The goal is local control over energy production, ideally creating jobs in the process, and moving to a fully renewable power stream.

More on how it works:

When the state legislature in 2002 gave CCAs the authority to form, it made participation automatic in the communities where they formed. Do nothing, and a customer is part of CCA. In Clean Power Alliance’s jurisdiction, policymakers can set the default rate at 36 percent, 50 percent or 100 percent.

It’s a savings of up to 2 percent in the lowest tier and a wash at 50 percent, according to the proposed rates, which are based on comparisons of SCE. The actual costs of Monday’s decision will be better known next month, when CPA’s board officially setsthose energy costs.

Locally, Ojai is the only other municipality to set it at 100 percent for all its customers. Thousand Oaks chose 50 percent, while Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley went with 36 percent, the cheapest option. Ventura County Supervisors set the rate at 100 percent for businesses and will decide on residential rates on Tuesday. In a tweet, Supervisor Linda Parks said she would be advocating for 100 percent.

What elected officials chose in any given jurisdiction isn’t binding for either a city or customers, though there are restrictions. If customers stay with SCE or return to SCE, they will be charged a one-time fee to return to CPA and will need to wait 12 months, for example.

A customer can opt for a lower or higher renewable rate than the default, or it can choose to not participate at all and continue receiving transmission and power from SEC.

Several speakers on Monday asked the council to choose 100 percent – the staff had recommended 50 percent.

Council member Christy Weir, who represents the city on Clean Power Alliance’s board, said the group was helping create a market for renewables, and the bigger the market, the more options for developing clean energy and associated infrastructure.

That could translate into jobs, she said. Weir was also assured switching or opting out would be simple and straightforward.

A customer can change renewable options online, by email or phone, said Jennifer Ward, Clean Power Alliance’s head of local government affairs. Switching to SCE or from SCE to the aggregator might entail another step.

“We’re not forcing anything,” Weir said.

Council member Mike Tracy said going to 100 percent made sense provided people understood the change and process.

Clean Power Alliance is required under state law to send out at least four mailings alerting them to the change, and city officials said they would do extensive outreach as well.

Council member Cheryl Heitmann said she was “very much supporting it…This earth is really in danger and I feel strongly that we have to do whatever we can to protect our grandchildren.”


What Ventura’s 100 percent renewable energy rate may cost you, by Ventura County Star Staff, Ventura County Star, October 16, 2018.