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Joint solar+storage project planned for Silicon Valley, Monterey Bay

Canadian Solar announced its wholly owned subsidiary Recurrent Energy has signed two 15-year power purchase agreements with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power for a 150-MWac solar power system with 180 MWh of battery storage. This joint procurement effort represents the largest contracted solar+storage project in California to date.

This partnership resulted from a joint procurement process that Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power launched in September 2017 to source cost-effective, renewable power for their respective communities.

“As a community choice aggregator, we are proud to help California lead the transition to clean, reliable and flexible energy,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of Silicon Valley Clean Energy. “We are proud to partner on a new renewable energy project that makes a significant investment to reach our state’s carbon-free energy goals and contribute to solving the state’s grid integration problem by investing in large grid-scale energy storage.”

“We are excited to bring online the largest solar+storage project by CCAs to date,” said Tom Habashi, CEO of Monterey Bay Community Power. “Joining forces in this process with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Recurrent Energy has been invaluable, as we bring onto the grid the clean electricity that we know our customers desire.”

Power will be supplied from Recurrent Energy’s Slate solar+storage project to be built in Kings County, California. The project is scheduled to reach commercial operation in 2021, and the energy represented by the contracts is enough to power 37,500 homes, providing Silicon Valley Clean Energy with 55 percent of the energy, and Monterey Bay with the other 45 percent of the combined output.

“We’re excited to have participated in this joint procurement effort that will not only include solar, but a landmark amount of energy storage for the state of California as well,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar. “With the integrated storage component, both CCAs will have the flexibility to fill the battery when wholesale energy prices are low and then discharge the energy when prices are higher to meet their unique load requirements in a cost-competitive manner. Recurrent Energy was the first developer to close financing for a utility-scale solar project with CCA off-takers and we will leverage this expertise to ensure the project is successful.”

The project’s lithium-ion battery component is 45 MW nameplate with 180 MWh of energy capacity, allowing for four hours of flexible energy delivery.

 

Joint solar+storage project planned for Silicon Valley, Monterey Bay, by Billy Ludt, Solar Power World, October 30, 2018.

Revised PG&E ‘exit fee’ impact to vary on MB community power, customers

MONTEREY — Despite statewide and local warnings about the potential impact of a revised Pacific Gas & Electric Co. “exit fee” approved by the California Public Utilities Commission last week, Monterey Bay Community Power officials said the relatively new power agency is sticking to its promise to keep their bills lower than PG&E’s and is well-positioned to absorb the change.

On Thursday, the CPUC approved an alternate proposal backed by Commissioner Carla Peterman that gave PG&E more leeway on charging former customers, including those now signed up for a growing number of community choice aggregation agencies such as Community Power, an annual exit fee (also known as a power charge indifference adjustment fee) for contracts and other investments the corporation made in anticipation of its power needs before millions of customers fled to community choice aggregation agencies. The fee is designed to ensure PG&E’s customers don’t pay more than their fair share of those costs.

Ahead of last week’s vote, Community Power issued a press release that featured local community leaders speaking out against the alternate proposal, arguing it could “derail” the state’s clean power programs and increase energy fees for residents, businesses and families, and inviting people to send letters to the CPUC opposing the alternate proposal and in favor of a proposed decision seen as friendlier to community choice aggregation agencies.

In the wake of the CPUC’s decision, Community Power director of communications and external affairs J.R. Killigrew said the agency’s customers will still see lower bills than they would have under PG&E due to an agency rebate that is actually supposed to increase next year along with the exit fee, which could rise by as much as 25 percent, according to Community Power.

“We are still fully committed to matching and lowering PG&E rates,” Killigrew said.

And Killigrew said the agency’s strategic planning has it poised to absorb the increased exit fee and the uncertainty associated with future related costs while continuing to invest in local clean energy programs.

“We won’t see as much impact as others because we planned,” Killigrew said.

Where the revised exit fee could directly affect Community Power and its customers is in its future revenue, which could be reduced by about $40 million annually, falling from about $260 million to about $220 million and cutting the agency’s surplus — estimated at $30 million for next year but potentially $6-$7 million higher without the revised exit fee — for programs like customer bill rebates, local clean power programs and reserves, which help build the agency’s credit rating and borrowing capacity for clean power projects.

“It makes it harder for Community Power to set aside reserves for local energy generation programs,” Killigrew said. “It’s harder for us to re-invest in the region like we’d like to.”

Longer term, Killigrew said the CPUC decision greatly expanded how long PG&E can continue charging community choice aggregation agency customers the exit fee and for what, as well as leaving unaddressed a potential buyout of the fee-associated costs, all of which leaves Community Power and other similar agencies in a state of uncertainty that hampers long-range planning.

“It’s more difficult to plan when you’re in a reactive state,” he said. “It’s better to have a fixed (exit fee).”

In the final analysis, Killigrew dismissed the idea that the revised exit fee is the beginning of the end of community choice aggregation agencies in the state, which has been suggested by some.

 

Revised PG&E ‘exit fee’ impact to vary on MB community power, customers, by Jim Johnson, Monterey Herald, October 15, 2018.