Clean local energy is winning in 2017: A year-end review from the Executive Director

As we come to the end of a tumultuous political year with a climate-denying federal administration, it would be easy to feel discouraged. But worldwide interest in renewables remains strong, and the Clean Coalition is accelerating successes at the local level.

With the world moving in the direction that the Clean Coalition has been pushing over its 9-year existence, and several passionate and talented additions to the Clean Coalition team, our achievements are on the rise.

We kicked off 2017 by partnering with East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), part of California’s rapidly expanding Community Choice Energy market, to develop a program for deploying more clean local energy in Alameda County. Our Solar Siting Survey shows enormous opportunity for solar deployment in the region, and the innovative feed-in tariff (FIT) with Market Responsive Pricing we designed for EBCE includes a Dispatchability Adder to incentivize energy storage.

The Solar Siting Survey for EBCE

The Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) Initiative continues to flourish. PAEC — a California Energy Commission (CEC) collaboration — is streamlining policies and showcasing projects that facilitate clean local energy and other advanced energy solutions like energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. PAEC is a model for communities across the country that want to reap the trifecta of economic, environmental, and resilience benefits delivered by Community Microgrids, Solar Emergency Microgrids, and more.

In March, the CEC selected the Clean Coalition to receive a grant for our Valencia Gardens Energy Storage project. In collaboration with partners like Pacific Gas & Electric, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), and the City of San Francisco, the Clean Coalition is leading this project to add grid-scale energy storage to the roughly 800 kilowatts of rooftop solar that is already interconnected to the distribution feeder around the Valencia Gardens Apartments, a large low-income and senior housing apartment complex near downtown San Francisco.

Our work to expand EV charging infrastructure in Palo Alto moved forward with the unveiling of new solar carport installations atop four City-owned parking structures. The solar carports and the EV charging infrastructure were possible only because of the Palo Alto FIT, which the Clean Coalition helped establish nearly five years ago.

Executive Director Craig Lewis (third from left) at the Palo Alto carport unveiling

Clean Coalition leadership on renewable energy and grid modernization policy continued this year with over 50 public filings in regulatory proceedings. Importantly, we were very active in numerous associated working groups.

Among the Clean Coalition’s numerous policy wins was the progress we made on our campaign to eliminate the massive (3 cents/kilowatt-hour) market distortion that Transmission Access Charges (TAC) steal from local renewables in investor-owned utility service territories, including from Community Choice Aggregators. This legislative cycle featured the Clean Coalition-sponsored Senate Bill 692 to force CAISO to fix the TAC distortion by implementing a consistent statewide “user-pays” approach. In response, CAISO started the Review TAC Structure Stakeholder Initiative this summer, which is essentially based on the Clean Coalition’s proposed TAC fix. The Clean Coalition is leading a consortium of nearly 100 supporting organizations to ensure our proposal is adopted.

The Clean Coalition finished the year with major wins for clean local energy. Our studies showing that solar+storage can cost-effectively replace the proposed Puente Power Project natural gas plant in Oxnard and the Ellwood Peaker Plant near Santa Barbara were instrumental in the CEC’s denial of Puente and the California Public Utility Commission’s rejection of Ellwood. As a result, many analysts are questioning whether another gas plant will ever be built in California.

Our work was recognized this year by the People’s Action for Clean Energy, with their 2017 Judi Friedman Clean Energy Leadership Award for bold and creative leadership in the field of clean energy. Since 2009, the Clean Coalition has achieved meaningful results in advancing renewable energy and a modern grid, facilitating more than 2 gigawatts of clean local energy program capacity — enough to provide peak power to about 2 million American homes.

Thank you for continuing to support the Clean Coalition and its pursuit of making clean local energy accessible now. We wish you a happy holiday season and look forward to another successful year.

Craig Lewis
Founder and Executive Director

Craig Lewis on Linkedin
Craig Lewis
Founder & Executive Director
Craig Lewis has over 20 years of experience in the renewables, wireless, semiconductor, and banking industries. Previously VP of Government Relations at GreenVolts, he was the first to successfully navigate a solar project through California's Renewable Portfolio Standard solicitation process. Craig was also the energy policy lead on Steve Westly's 2006 California gubernatorial campaign, and his resume includes senior government relations, corporate development, and marketing positions at leading wireless, semiconductor, and banking companies; including Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Barclays Bank.