Posts

Bay Area Community Energy Agencies Reach Emission-Free Power Resiliency Agreements

Helps thousands of households install affordable, clean backup amid wildfire power shutoffs

Oakland, Redwood City and Sunnyvale, CA – Three Bay Area Community Choice Energy providers have reached an agreement with San Francisco-based Sunrun to install up to roughly 20 megawatts (MW) of emission-free solar and battery backup power to 6,000 households vulnerable to emergency power shutoffs during wildfire season.

East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) have agreed with Sunrun to increase renewable power, reduce overall peak demand and improve grid reliability by putting this increased capacity online on a rolling basis from 2020 through 2022.

All three agencies have carve outs in their contracts for low-income customers, disadvantaged communities and vulnerable residents in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, including those hit by last year’s PG&E emergency power shutoffs.

“Last fall’s power shut-offs were not just an inconvenience or financial hit to residents due to losing perishable groceries in the fridge. They were devastating to vulnerable residents among us who depend on electricity for their well-being,” EBCE CEO Nick Chaset said. “With this program, EBCE is paying an incentive to deploy energy storage systems that benefit our regional energy grid, while also providing the direct benefit of backup power for homes.”

“The wildfires that disrupted our power and lives last fall have given us an opportunity to find ways to better protect our most vulnerable customers from losing essential supplies and comfort during emergency outages. By partnering with Sunrun and our local non-profit agencies, we can identify those customers who can benefit the most from this program,” Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper said. “This innovative approach and partnership also establish a new model for a cleaner and more reliable electricity grid for all our residents.”

“In addition to providing needed resiliency to the members of our community most impacted by power shutoffs, this program is instrumental in shifting away from a centralized, fossil fuel-based grid to one that is distributed, decentralized and decarbonized,” SVCE CEO Girish Balachandran said. “Historically, reliability is provided by centralized gas plants. We are at a pivotal moment where it has tipped toward battery storage systems and local resources.”

“Sunrun’s Brightbox rechargeable solar battery system can help families power through blackouts and better manage energy costs when they need it most,” said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun co-founder and CEO. “We’re excited to partner with these innovative energy providers to begin paving the way towards a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system.”

In addition to providing reliable backup power, solar-powered home batteries can save all energy consumers money by helping to displace the need for costly transmission infrastructure. This technology will also support the move to a more electrified energy and transportation system, including the increased adoption of electric vehicles and less reliance on fossil fuel-powered home appliances.

The contracts are part of a joint solicitation last November from the three Community Choice Energy providers and Santa Clara municipal utility Silicon Valley Power that was issued shortly after emergency power shutoffs last fall affected hundreds of thousands of customers in the Bay Area.

By reducing peak power demand, these innovative contracts will effectively enable the use of local resources to help fulfill state “Resource Adequacy” requirements, which refer to energy generating capacity that local agencies and utilities must contract to ensure the safe and reliable operation of California’s electrical grid in real time. This requirement has historically been filled through purchasing Resource Adequacy from distant power plants. These contracts will shift the purchase of Resource Adequacy to new local solar power and battery storage systems that provide the benefits of backup power directly to local homes and businesses.

About East Bay Community Energy
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/.

Media Contact:
Dan Lieberman, dlieberman@ebce.org, 925-579-1591

About Peninsula Clean Energy
Peninsula Clean Energy launched in October 2016 as California’s fifth Community Choice Aggregation agency and is the official local electricity provider for all of San Mateo County. It is one of only three CCAs in California to obtain investment-grade credit ratings. While offering rates that save San Mateo County customers an estimated $18 million annually compared to PG&E, Peninsula Clean Energy is aggressively striving toward the goals of providing 100 percent greenhouse gas-free power by 2021 and 24/7 renewable power by 2025. Find out more at peninsulacleanenergy.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook (@PenCleanEnergy) and on LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Darren Goode, dgoode@peninsulacleanenergy.com, 202-550-6619

About Silicon Valley Clean Energy
Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a not-for-profit 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, pamela.leonard@svcleanenergy.org, 530-306-0122

About Sunrun
Sunrun Inc. (Nasdaq: RUN) is the nation’s leading home solar, battery storage, and energy services company. Founded in 2007, Sunrun pioneered home solar service plans to make local clean energy more accessible to everyone for little to no upfront cost. Sunrun’s innovative home battery solution, Brightbox, brings families affordable, resilient, and reliable energy. The company can also manage and share stored solar energy from the batteries to provide benefits to households, utilities, and the electric grid while reducing our reliance on polluting energy sources. For more information, please visit www.sunrun.com.

Media Contact:
Andrew Newbold, press@sunrun.com, 816-516-5809

Vistra’s Oakland Battery Will Have Two Customers, Suggesting New Path for Storage Market

Utility PG&E finalized its contract with a battery project slated to displace a jet-fuel-burning power plant in downtown Oakland, California.

The Oakland Clean Energy Initiative models a pathway for removing decades-old power plants in dense urban settings while keeping the lights on with new lithium-ion batteries. But the project’s collaborative business model also makes it potentially groundbreaking for energy storage development, by formalizing the use of the battery for discrete grid services on behalf of two different clients.

PG&E, which is working to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of June, has experience building batteries and contracting with third parties for the use of their batteries. Battery owners often contract services to an offtaker while playing in merchant markets themselves. But the Oakland project marks a new foray into an owner sharing a front-of-meter battery plant with multiple customers.

Independent power producer Vistra Energy, which owns the 165-megawatt jet-fueled plant in question, signed a deal with PG&E to build a 36.25-megawatt/145-megawatt-hour battery at the existing site in Jack London Square. The facility will provide “local area reliability service,” helping the utility with its job of transmitting power to residents in Oakland. Doing so avoids a far costlier investment, like running new wires over the hills from the Moraga substation.

Click here for full article.

Vistra’s Oakland Battery Will Have Two Customers, Suggesting New Path for Storage Market, by Julian Spector, Greentech Media, April 17, 2020.

VISTRA ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED OAKLAND BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE FACILITY

OAKLAND, CA — April 15, 2020 — Vistra (NYSE: VST) today announced that it is increasing the size of its battery energy storage project located at the site of its Oakland Power Plant. The battery will now have a capacity of 36.25 megawatts/145 megawatt-hours instead of the previously announced capacity of 20 MW/80 MWh. Vistra anticipates the battery storage project will enter commercial operations by January 2022.

The project has received necessary approvals from East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), a Community Choice Energy provider, and from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). EBCE approved an amended contract to receive the larger resource adequacy capacity from the project, while PG&E approved a new Local Area Reliability Service Agreement to ensure grid reliability as part of the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative. PG&E is awaiting approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

“We are excited to build on our original partnership with East Bay Community Energy and PG&E,” said Curt Morgan, president and CEO of Vistra. “We believe battery energy storage will play an increasingly key role in the reliability of the electric system, and this project represents a shining example of that view. Vistra is proud to be able to provide clean energy to the residents of Oakland while, at the same time, helping the city meet its sustainability goals.”

East Bay Community Energy CEO Nick Chaset said, “Adding an additional 16.25 MW of battery storage capacity in downtown Oakland is a win for EBCE, our customers, reliability of the electric grid, and local air quality. We’re pleased to participate in clean energy developments that help us meet our resource adequacy obligations while creating local benefits for the communities we serve.”

The battery system will be a partial replacement for the aging 165-MW jet fuel-fired plant, which is currently on a Reliability Must-Run contract with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Vistra plans to eventually retire the existing units at Oakland Power Plant and develop additional energy storage projects on the site in the future.

Vistra is a market leader in utility-scale battery development: its 10-MW/42-MWh Upton 2 Battery Storage Facility came online in December 2018 and is the largest in Texas, while its 300-MW/1,200- MWh Moss Landing battery project is currently under construction in California and slated to be complete later this year. When the Moss Landing battery storage system comes online, it will be the largest battery of its kind in the world.

###

About Vistra
Vistra (NYSE: VST) is a premier, integrated, Fortune 350 energy company based in Irving, Texas, providing essential resources for customers, commerce, and communities. Vistra combines an innovative, customer-centric approach to retail with safe, reliable, diverse, and efficient power generation. The company brings its products and services to market in 20 states and the District of Columbia, including six of the seven competitive markets in the U.S. and markets in Canada and Japan, as well. Serving nearly 5 million residential, commercial, and industrial retail customers with electricity and natural gas, Vistra is the largest competitive residential electricity provider in the country and offers over 40 renewable energy plans. The company is also the largest competitive power generator in the U.S. with a capacity of approximately 39,000 megawatts powered by a diverse portfolio, including natural gas, nuclear, solar, and battery energy storage facilities. In addition, the company is a large purchaser of wind power. The company is currently constructing a 300-MW/1,200- MWh battery energy storage system in Moss Landing, California, which will be the largest of its kind in the world when it comes online. Vistra is guided by four core principles: we do business the right way, we work as a team, we compete to win, and we care about our stakeholders, including our customers, our communities where we work and live, our employees, and our investors. Learn more about Vistra’s environmental, social, and governance efforts and read the company’s sustainability report at https://www.vistraenergy.com/sustainability/.

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 will expand to the cities of Pleasanton, Newark, and Tracy in 2021. As one of 19 community choice aggregation (CCA) programs operating in California, EBCE is part of the movement to expedite 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/.

MEDIA

Meranda Cohn
Media.Relations@vistraenergy.com
214-875-8004

Dan Lieberman
dlieberman@ebce.org
925-579-1591

Peninsula Clean Energy Receives BBB+ Credit Rating

REDWOOD CITY, CA – April 10, 2020 – Peninsula Clean Energy has received a BBB+ rating from Fitch Ratings, a strong indication of financial stability as the organization accelerates renewable power procurement and generation.

Fitch, a leading global credit rating agency, noted that the higher rating reflects Peninsula Clean Energy’s “strong financial profile, which includes strong operating margins and robust liquidity levels” that allow the organization to meet all of its financial obligations from net revenues.

“At a time of great uncertainty in our economy, we are very pleased that we have reached another important financial milestone that underscores we can continue to be aggressive in finding more clean and affordable power for our customers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper said.

While the COVID-19 outbreak has created an uncertain environment for the public power sector in the near term, Peninsula Clean Energy’s financial profile is expected to continue to be “stronger” even under Fitch’s revised COVID-19 assumptions.

Moody’s Investors Service last May assigned a first-time Baa2 rating to Peninsula Clean Energy, which is one notch below the new Fitch rating. Peninsula Clean Energy is one of only two Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs in California to have obtained an investment-grade credit rating.

The benefits of the higher rating include the potential for Peninsula Clean Energy to negotiate even lower energy prices and improved credit terms for future power purchasing needs. It also assures regulators and legislators that, even in light of PG&E’s bankruptcy filing and COVID-19 uncertainty, the CCA business model provides a stable framework for serving customers and advancing California’s low-carbon energy future.

The 200-megawatt utility-scale Wright Solar Project, the largest renewable energy installation ever completed for a CCA, went online and started producing emission-free power exclusively for Peninsula Clean Energy customers in January. In November, the 100-MW Mustang Two solar project broke ground and could also start providing power to Peninsula Clean Energy customers by the end of the year.

 

About Peninsula Clean Energy

Peninsula Clean Energy launched in October 2016 as California’s fifth CCA and is the official local electricity provider for all of San Mateo County. Peninsula Clean Energy has the goal of providing 100 percent greenhouse gas-free power by 2021 and estimates that its lower rates are already saving San Mateo County customers an estimated $18 million a year compared to PG&E. Find out more at peninsulacleanenergy.com.

 

Media Contact

Darren Goode

Peninsula Clean Energy

dgoode@peninsulacleanenergy.com

(202) 550-6619

EBCE Launches $1.5 Million COVID-19 Relief Effort

Oakland, Calif. (April 2, 2020) – East Bay Community Energy has expanded its commitment to funding local COVID-19 relief efforts and has now earmarked $1.5 million toward community relief efforts in Alameda County. 

“I directed our management team to identify any possible opportunities in the current budget to repurpose as contributions for COVID-19 relief efforts” said EBCE’s CEO, Nick Chaset. “This is clearly a crisis time for residents and local businesses, and if EBCE has any resources available to help, then by all means that is what we’re going to do, and we’re doing it immediately.”

EBCE launched a web page that will catalog its relief efforts, available at: https://ebce.org/covid

Some of those efforts include:

  • Temporarily Suspending Customer Collection Activities and Offering Flexible Customer Payment Plans: EBCE has suspended the return of non-paying customers back to PG&E service and is suspending collections activities through at least May 2020. EBCE is also to implement flexible payment plans for customers impacted by the Covid19 crisis.
  • Community Relief Funding: EBCE will contribute $1,100,000 to the twelve communities we serve to support their community relief efforts. 
  • Corporate Partners Donation Initiative: EBCE is spearheading an initiative soliciting donations from our largest customers, with a goal of raising $1 million in April for the County food bank and Meals on Wheels programs. 
  • Donation to Local Food Agencies: EBCE’s board approved $70,000 in grants to local support programs at Alameda County Community Food Bank and Meals-on-Wheels of Alameda County.
  • Community Grant Funds: EBCE has allocated over $300,000 in additional funds to use for community grants in our response to COVID-19 and is developing effective strategies to utilize these funds.

We encourage readers to visit our COVID-19 response web page and contribute if you are able. 

###

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 will expand to the cities of Pleasanton, Newark, and Tracy in 2021. As one of 19 community choice aggregation (CCA) programs operating in California,EBCE is part of the movement to expedite 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/.

CONTACT

Dan Lieberman

925-579-1591
dlieberman@ebce.org

East Bay Community Energy: Big Data Means More Efficient, More Effective Service

Thanks to the massive investment in smart electric meters made by the state over the last decade, utilities collect a steady and granular stream of consumption data from customers.  EBCE is no exception, receiving data from 500,000 residential meters on an hourly basis and 50,000 commercial and industrial meters every 15 minutes.

That adds up to over 6 billion data points per year.  Add to that the previous four years of data acquired from PG&E, and it already amounts to 3.3 terabytes of data.  “Companies like Facebook sneeze at that amount of data – they collect more than 6 times as much every hour,” says Taj Ait-Laoussine, Vice-President for Technology & Analytics.  “But it is a lot.”

That data is collected for EBCE by PG&E and is used primarily for billing, especially as more customers move to time-dependent rates.  But it can do so much more.

WORKING THE NUMBERS

To put that data to work, EBCE has created a data analytics platform that is unique among CCAs in California.  It consists of a set of analytical tools built on a cloud-based platform that help with load forecasting, customer management, rate design, program marketing, and accounting.

EBCE staff are able to access the data to tackle any number of problems. The most basic application (or “use case” in business jargon) is understanding EBCE customers. “We can track enrollments, opt-outs, opt-ups by kWh, view the load profile of certain customer types, or track the number of CARE customers across our jurisdictions, for example,” Taj says.  “General slicing and dicing of the data.”

The next use case is “shadow reporting,” where EBCE runs reports to double-check the transactions that come from PG&E and that go through third party vendors. EBCE can run its own reports to ensure that the correct billing transactions have been posted and to ensure that its settlement with the Independent System Operator (CAISO) lines up with the data it acquires.

The third, and probably most important application so far, is forecasting load and revenues. Based on past behaviors, the tools can model load for the system as a whole, for certain regions, or for certain types of customers.

“We look at 25 distinct rate classes, then model each month, weekday and hour separately —  50,400 different dimensions in all,” says Taj. “Then, for each customer, we determine the relative weight that represents them on all of those dimensions. So we can now predict, for example, the energy consumption for all residential net metering customers in Fremont on a Tuesday in August at 3:00 pm.”

That is useful for estimating future load and revenues, but also for creating a short term summary of recent and upcoming load patterns, which is given to the Scheduling Coordinator every day.  The Coordinator schedules power purchases and deliveries through CAISO. Better visibility enables more accurate scheduling, and less need for expensive last-minute purchases. Before the data platform was set up, there was a gap in accessing that data. Now it happens in real time.

CUSTOMER FOCUSED

The data is also is useful for marketing, such as identifying and signing up individual customers for energy efficiency programs. “We can correlate consumption to weather on an hourly basis,” explains Taj.  “Customers with high correlations must be using a lot of air conditioning or electric heat, so they are good candidates for energy efficiency help.”

Better visibility helps EBCE design programs tailored to customer needs and to reach them more cost-effectively.  “We can spend less money on programs and get better engagement,” Taj says.

The platform can quickly generate detailed reports to customers on request, which is especially attractive to large commercial and industrial customers seeking ways to cut costs.

And it can enable new programs, like the 2018 demand response pilot where EBCE tested the potential for large customers to cut demand in response to price signals.

“Basically, it allows us to be more efficient, to do things faster and with less resources,” says Taj.  “It will result in greater customer retention and customer satisfaction.”

 

Big Data Means More Efficient, More Effective Service, by East Bay Community Energy Staff, East Bay Community Energy, March 8, 2019.