13 groups have received grant money from the state of California to design Advanced Energy Communities (AECs) over the next 18 months. AECs will establish replicable approaches that leverage energy efficiency, local renewables, electric vehicle charging stations, and energy storage to provide more affordable, cleaner, and resilient power. The California Energy Commission (CEC) is funding these grants, through a program known as The EPIC (Electric Program Investment Charge) Challenge, to identify barriers to the rapid deployment of AECs. Of the initial 13 projects funded, the top four will receive additional funding to build out their AEC designs.
The Clean Coalition is proud that its Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) was one of the 13 projects selected for funding by the CEC. The PAEC, which focuses on southern San Mateo County, will address policy, permitting, and financing barriers impeding the development of AECs. The broader PAEC region includes all of San Mateo County and the City of Palo Alto, and other project collaborators include core school districts, emergency response districts, Pacific Gas & Electric, SamTrans, Facebook, Stanford University, and Kaiser Permanente.
First two design projects
The City of Atherton’s new Civic Center will be an early focus of the PAEC. Atherton’s existing Civic Center, which dates back to the 1920s, is outdated and inefficient. With PAEC support, the new Atherton Civic Center will be Zero Net Energy (ZNE) — showcasing cutting edge energy efficient electrical and mechanical systems that dramatically reduce energy usage and incorporate local renewable energy generation that at least matches the annual energy usage across the new Atherton Civic Center. Electric vehicle charging and energy storage are anticipated to complement the ZNE buildings, which will be 100% electric with zero natural gas or other fossil fuels being utilized.
Another component of the PAEC is the design of a solar emergency microgrid — an essential asset for communities seeking enhanced resilience of their local power grid. In the event of a power outage or natural disaster, a solar emergency microgrid can island from the larger grid to provide continuous power to a critical facility, such as an emergency response command center, hospital, or police station. Local renewable energy, battery backup, and load shedding solutions are key elements of a solar emergency microgrid.
Part of a larger sustainability effort
In alignment with the CEC’s AEC effort, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 32 into law this fall, laying out an ambitious goal of reducing California’s greenhouse gases emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. To achieve this target, the state needs to accelerate deployment of energy efficiency, local renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage. The EPIC Challenge is nurturing innovations that will help catapult the state into a cleaner energy future. The Clean Coalition’s PAEC project — given its strong community support and talented partners — is well positioned to uncover innovative ways to enhance the cost-effectiveness and resilience of power in San Mateo County, while also helping California meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Visit the Clean Coalition’s PAEC web page for project updates over the next 18 months.