Transmission Access Charges distortion in California: There is a solution

Now several years into our Transmission Access Charges (TAC) Campaign, the Clean Coalition continues leading the effort to ensure that California’s ratepayers aren’t stuck with billions of dollars in unnecessary electric transmission spending. We have worked with California Senator Ben Allen to draft new bill language for Senate Bill (SB) 692, to create a certain path to the most viable solution for implementing our widely supported reform strategies.

Today, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) charges exactly the same amount for “using” the transmission grid whether the energy comes from a source thousands of miles away or a source next door. That means that the real costs of building long transmission lines are hidden. So if a load-serving entity (LSE) such as a utility or community choice aggregator uses local energy to meet its customers’ needs, the LSE is penalized for the very actions that reduce the need for an ever-expanding transmission grid. And the LSE’s customers pay the price.

Continue reading

Partnering with NREL and the City of San Diego to drive local solar development efforts

This spring, the Clean Coalition partnered with the City of San Diego to participate in the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). The partnership got the attention of Solar Power World and other publications, who recognized it as a significant step in helping San Diego meet its ambitious clean energy goals.

SEIN will explore new ways solar energy can improve the affordability, reliability, and resilience of the nation’s electric grid. The City of San Diego is one of nine teams selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for this collaborative effort.

Participation in SEIN will include financial, analytical, and facilitation support as the City develops programs to address the challenges and opportunities related to local solar and other distributed energy resources in San Diego. The solutions developed by the San Diego team will serve as a blueprint for other communities nationwide facing similar challenges and opportunities.

Continue reading

Supercharging the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure

California Governor Jerry Brown set a goal of five million electric vehicles (EV) on the roads by 2030. To achieve this, California is planning for 250,000 EV chargers, including 10,000 fast chargers, by 2025. Having an extensive network of charging stations will reassure people considering EVs that charging will be available where and when they need it.

While California has made great strides toward the goal of 5 million EVs by 2030, the figure below shows how far the state still needs to go. A key to making progress is knowing where to focus efforts to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI).

Continue reading

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