Splitting up with split incentives

How green leases remove barriers to energy efficiency in commercial buildings

Sonic Manufacturing Technologies. Source: Mynt Systems

Sonic Manufacturing Technologies’ energy bill fell from $35,000 per month to $0 per month. That’s because the owner of their 82,000-square-foot building invested $3.5 million to upgrade the facility to zero net energy (ZNE). A combination of solar PV and energy efficiency retrofits resulted in a building that now generates as much energy as it uses.

Why would the building owner invest in building upgrades when cost savings from the lower energy bills accrue to the tenant? Continue reading

Transmission Access Charges Campaign update: Continuing to advocate for California ratepayers and renewables

Since the fall of 2015, the Clean Coalition’s Transmission Access Charges (TAC) Campaign has continued to build momentum to remedy an unfair charge on local renewable energy in California. TAC are fees designed to pay for the state’s transmission system. Currently, TAC are charged for all energy consumed by customers — even for distributed energy resources (DER) that don’t use the transmission system. This creates a major market distortion that disadvantages clean local energy.

Reforming the TAC structure is critical to controlling the rapidly escalating costs of transmitting electricity in California. Although TAC amount to about 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) today, this figure is expected to climb to 4.5 cents per kWh in the coming years. This means that over a 20-year contract, TAC will add about 3 cents per kWh to the levelized cost of energy — about 30% of the wholesale value of energy in California.

Because the costs of generating electricity are declining so fast, TAC may become more expensive than the energy itself. A key solution to this growing problem is to align the costs of the system with its use. To ensure that users of the transmission system pay for it, TAC should apply only to energy that is delivered through the transmission system. Continue reading

Pacific Gas & Electric required to procure more renewables after the Clean Coalition’s intervention

The Clean Coalition has played a major role in holding California’s investor-owned utilities accountable for the significant amounts of clean energy they were required to procure and connect to the grid under the California Public Utility Commission’s (CPUC) Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM). The RAM program was designed to streamline and hasten the advancement of sub-20 megawatt (MW) distributed renewable energy projects in the state.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has made various attempts to delay or cancel their clean energy procurements required under RAM. In response to these attempts, the Clean Coalition has intervened to ensure that this crucial market segment is supported in California. Continue reading

The North Bay Community Resilience Initiative gains traction

On the heels of a highly attended webinar early this month, the Clean Coalition’s North Bay Community Resilience Initiative, formerly known as the Sonoma County Community Microgrid Initiative, is gaining traction. In the face of natural disasters such as last year’s devastating North Bay fires in California, this initiative represents a real and vital solution for providing resilient power to Sonoma and Napa Counties.

The North Bay Community Resilience Initiative is a collaboration among the Clean Coalition, Pacific Gas & Electric, and North Bay leaders including Sonoma Clean Power, the Rebuild Northbay Foundation, the Center for Climate Protection, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Sonoma County’s Energy & Sustainability Division, Design AVEnues, and the Stone Edge Farm Microgrid, among others. The project seeks to make the best of an otherwise devastating situation. It presents a unique opportunity to rebuild a community from the ground up, while lowering the community’s environmental impacts, creating regional economic benefits, and helping to protect residents during future disasters. Continue reading

Advancing Distribution Resources Planning in Colorado and beyond

Since first guiding the introduction of legislation in 2011, the Clean Coalition has been a leading voice for Distribution Resources Planning. This foundational policy, known as DRP, has become essential in the 21st century due to the changing nature of how we generate, manage, and deliver electricity.

Distributed energy resources (DER) — including local renewables, energy storage, and demand response — offer a suite of valuable services to the grid, such as flexible loads, dispatchable storage and generation, and local voltage support. Coupled with growing deployment of DER by customers and utilities, distribution grids have emerged as centers of innovation and investment on both sides of the customer meter. Yet, traditional utility planning processes were not designed to account for the increasingly dynamic nature of distribution grids, two-way power flows, and utilization of DER. Therefore, new planning processes are necessary. Continue reading