California Energy Commission selects the Peninsula Advanced Energy Community for grant award

The Clean Coalition’s Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) project, located in the southern portion of San Mateo County, California, was recently selected to receive a grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC). The grant will come from the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which recently offered “The EPIC Challenge: Accelerating the Deployment of Advanced Energy Communities.”

The PAEC project, which is supported by Pacific Gas & Electric and numerous local governments, is an opportunity for the Clean Coalition to develop innovative and replicable approaches for accelerating the deployment of Advanced Energy Communities. The CEC defines an Advanced Energy Community as one that: minimizes the need for new energy infrastructure costs such as transmission and distribution upgrades; supports grid reliability and resiliency by incorporating technologies such as energy storage and microgrids; can be replicated and scaled-up to further drive down costs; and provides affordable access to renewable energy generation.

The PAEC project will include all of the above through abundant local solar electricity, zero net energy buildings, solar emergency microgrids, and charging infrastructure to support the rapid growth in electric vehicles. Once completed, the project is expected to save energy consumers over $25 million, generate over $100 million in regional economic output, create $35 million in local wages, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 800 million pounds over 20 years.

The PAEC region, which is experiencing enormous commercial and residential growth pressure, is representative of similar areas throughout California—ensuring that the PAEC’s success can be replicated statewide. The Clean Coalition will have updates in upcoming newsletters as the project gets underway this summer.

Palo Alto to solarize city-owned parking structures and enhance EV deployment

The City of Palo Alto is creating a new model for deploying 1.3 megawatts of local solar atop four City-owned parking structures. These solar installations are the result of sustained efforts by the Clean Coalition and the City of Palo Alto to deploy local renewables on municipal properties.

In 2014, the Clean Coalition partnered with City staff to design and assist with administering a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to lease the solar siting rights to install solar parking canopies on Palo Alto’s City-owned parking structures. After a long and arduous process that resulted from this being an entirely new approach to encouraging local renewable energy generation, Komuna Energy was selected to build, own, and operate solar parking canopies atop four of Palo Alto’s five City-owned parking structures.

The ability to structure the RFP as a competition for leasing rights was facilitated by the City of Palo Alto Utilities’ feed-in tariff (FIT) program, known as Palo Alto CLEAN, which the Clean Coalition helped establish in 2013. Under Palo Alto CLEAN, a standardized Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) streamlines the process for selling solar energy to the utility at a fixed rate of 16.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for a 25-year period. Importantly, the FIT made these solar canopy projects possible. Net energy metering is not viable at these sites, since the parking structures have tiny loads and net energy metering limits the maximum size of a renewables project to the size of the site load.

In terms of the lease arrangement, a small, annual lease payment will be made to the City of Palo Alto, but far more important is the fact that the City’s electric vehicle ambitions will be significantly advanced. Komuna Energy will install 18 Level-2 electric vehicle chargers and lay the wiring for an additional 80 charging stations, which is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Complete details of the agreement are here, which includes the full lease agreement between Komuna Energy and the City of Palo Alto, as well as the standardized PPA used by the utility to buy all the solar energy generated through Palo Alto CLEAN. More details on Palo Alto CLEAN are also available at the City of Palo Alto website.

The Long Island Community Microgrid Project completes Stage 1 of the NY Prize

The Long Island Community Microgrid Project, an early grant recipient of the New York Prize Community Microgrid Competition, is now one of the first projects to complete Stage 1: Feasibility Study. Once completed, the project will provide reliable power to the East End of Long Island, while saving hundreds of millions of dollars and demonstrating the feasibility of high levels of local renewable energy.

Utilizing very high levels of locally generated solar electricity and other distributed energy resources (DER), the Long Island Community Microgrid Project represents a new approach to designing and operating electric grids. Covering thousands of customers and located in the grid-constrained East End of Long Island, the Long Island Community Microgrid Project is designed to achieve nearly 50% of its grid-area electric power requirements from local solar generation. Importantly, the Long Island Community Microgrid Project will greatly enhance resilience by providing indefinite renewables-driven backup power for critical community facilities, while setting the stage to avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in transmission investments that otherwise would be required to deliver power to the East End of Long Island. The result will be an optimized local energy system combining local solar generation, energy storage, load control, and robust monitoring, communications, and control (MC2) capabilities. The Long Island Community Microgrid Project includes the following features:

  • 15 megawatts (MW) of new solar photovoltaic generation
  • 5 MW/25 megawatt-hour energy storage facility plus three smaller energy storage facilities
  • State-of-the-art MC2 system
  • Coverage of over 3000 customer accounts—representing roughly 10,000 residents and employees—within the community microgrid
  • Provision of indefinite renewables-driven backup power for multiple critical loads, including a fire station and the water pumping and filtration stations that provision all the fresh water to the area
  • Deliver normal operating benefits through utility-scale peak shaving
  • Demonstrate robust community microgrid capabilities over a substation grid area, which is the basic building block of an electric grid and can be easily proliferated throughout the utility service territory and replicated by other utilities across New York and around the world
  • Showcase how to design and operate electric grids with unparalleled levels of local renewables and other DER; and optimizing resilience

The many benefits of the Long Island Community Microgrid Project include:

  • Unparalleled penetration of local renewable energy with a concomitant reduced dependence on centralized, non-renewable power and local, oil-fueled peak generation facilities
  • Advancement of New York Reforming the Energy Vision goals for achieving clean, resilient, affordable energy generation
  • Peak power demand reduction of over 8 MW
  • Over $38 million in avoided local transmission upgrade value and potential for $300 million in avoided transmission upgrades if the Long Island Community Microgrid Project is replicated throughout the region
  • Millions of dollars saved through capacity charge reductions and energy arbitrage
  • Over $32 million in wages and other economic value during the construction phase of the Long Island Community Microgrid Project, with millions more under ongoing operations
  • Shift in wholesale power purchases from daily peak pricing periods to off-peak periods, realizing net savings in energy purchases of $2.5 million by 2022 and more than $500,000 annually thereafter
  • $334,000 per day of avoided local outage value for the community served by Long Island Community Microgrid Project circuits during regional outage events
  • Immediate and ongoing savings that result in lower electric rates for all PSEG Long Island utility customers

The Long Island Community Microgrid Project will provide renewables-based grid services to an area that includes thousands of utility customers with high vulnerability to severe North Atlantic storms. The Long Island Community Microgrid Project showcases how to manage grid services locally during grid outages and across dynamic seasonal variations, including those caused by a doubling of the population during the summer. Critical facilities supported by the Long Island Community Microgrid Project include two Suffolk County Water Authority water pumping and filtration plants and the Springs Fire District facility. Other critical facilities that could be incorporated include the local airport and additional emergency response facilities.

Community Microgrids are far more extensive than a typical microgrid, which only serves a single location with behind-the-meter resources. A key feature of a Community Microgrid is the ability to serve thousands of customers with local renewable energy while achieving economies-of-scale and providing renewables-driven power backup to critical facilities and services during grid outages. The Long Island Community Microgrid Project covers 3343 utility accounts across a single substation grid area. Since substation grid areas are the basic building blocks of an electric grid, the substation-level nature of the Long Island Community Microgrid Project ensures that its design can be readily extended across utility service territories and replicated by other utilities.

The Clean Coalition is currently preparing its proposal to advance the Long Island Community Microgrid Project to Stage 2: Design of the NY Prize competition. Key Stage 2 activities include: detailed assessments of technical design and system implementation; project valuation and investment planning; and finalizing project development, construction, and operational plans.

Improving interconnection cost certainty under Rule 21‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Clean Coalition continues driving improvements to the California Public Utilities Commission’s Rule 21, which regulates interconnection, operation, and metering requirements for distributed generation in California. We are pleased to report that the past few months have proved fruitful with agreement achieved among parties on multiple proposals by the Clean Coalition and others.

The Proposed Decision (PD) from the Joint Motions filed in the proceeding enhances cost predictability, access to information, and standards for energy storage. We look forward to their implementation once the commissioners at the CPUC adopt a Final Decision.

As previously reported, late last year the Clean Coalition lead a series of proposals for joint parties to submit to the CPUC. As reflected in the current PD, the following recommendations went unopposed:

  • The publication of an interconnection “Per Unit Cost Guide,” which will guide applicants through the interconnection process with assured cost certainty and transparency.
  • The implementation of further enhancements to the pre-application report the Clean Coalition had previously succeeded in establishing.
  • The streamlining of interconnection processes of non-exporting energy storage and treatment of storage-related loads.

Options offering cost certainty in interconnection agreements are also going before the CPUC for a final decision. These options offer contractual cost certainty to address current non-binding estimates from utility companies that leave interconnection applicants with unbounded liability for costs incurred during project development. This is an issue the Clean Coalition has pursued since the Rule 21 proceeding began in 2011, and while no further consensus was achievable regarding alternative approaches, we will continue advocating for needed improvements.

The CPUC recognizes that more work needs to be done on the cost certainty proposals, such as incorporating the smart inverter recommendations in Rule 21 and issuing a new rulemaking to address additional issues that will arise or are still outstanding.

As a leading intervener on Rule 21, the Clean Coalition has already achieved a number of important victories, and we will continue fighting for fair, transparent, and streamlined interconnection processes.

Residents rally behind the Hunters Point Community Microgrid Project

In early October, the Clean Coalition participated in BaySplash, an inaugural event hosted by the EcoCenter in Bayview-Hunters Point–a community partner on our Hunters Point Community Microgrid Project. Recently, the Clean Coalition has supported EcoCenter staff in developing curriculum for their climate change programs. BaySplash was filled with technology demonstrations, science activities, and artistic performance. The event also included participation from fellow Hunters Point Community Microgrid Project partner, the A. Philip Randolph Institute San Francisco, an organization that offers clean energy job training.

The Clean Coalition staff was on hand at BaySplash to share information about our Hunters Point Community Microgrid Project with more than 100 community members. Once deployed, the Hunters Point Community Microgrid Project is expected to bring $100 million in local wages to the Bayview-Hunters Point community, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 billion pounds over the next 20 years.

Also in October, the Clean Coalition met with numerous Bayview-Hunters Point residents, small business owners, and faith leaders, in a joint exercise to plan for community resilience. Churches, community centers, and small businesses were identified as key sites for power backup during times of outages because of the vitality they bring to the community and the key resources they provide.

Once the community has finalized its list of critical sites in Bayview-Hunters Point, the Clean Coalition is committed to ensuring these facilities have an indefinite supply of renewable power in order to operate even when the grid is down. We have recently demonstrated how this is possible through our Long Island Community Microgrid Project and will continue to seek out grid resilience opportunities across the country.