The gap between the clean local energy future we need and where we are today is still wide. For the past 21 months, the Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) Initiative, with grant support from the California Energy Commission, has been studying what we can do to bridge this gap and accelerate the deployment of advanced energy communities (AECs). A new Master Case Study report from the PAEC Initiative details measures that government agencies and utilities can take to help build this future as soon as possible.
AECs are communities that strive to meet zero net energy (ZNE) standards for the built environment, and that take full advantage of local renewable energy, demand response, Solar Emergency Microgrids, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI). More than the sum of their components, AECs provide numerous benefits, including:
- Minimizing the need for new energy infrastructure
- Providing energy savings through ZNE
- Improving grid reliability and resilience
- Offering easier grid integration
- Modeling replicable and scalable solutions
- Providing affordable access to distributed energy resources and energy efficiency for all electricity ratepayers
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.
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.
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).
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