Don’t let California Backslide to More Dirty Energy

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), one of California’s largest utilities, plans to replace a shuttered nuclear plant with massive amounts of new gas power – all through an insider deal that doesn’t allow clean energy options to compete. This rush for more fossil power would come at a major cost to energy customers, public health and our climate. Help us urge state regulators to reject this reckless plan and send a clear message to all the utilities that California is committed to clean energy.

button

SDG&E’s proposal is just another example of the utility supporting its own interests rather than those of the families and businesses it serves. We can meet California’s new energy needs reliably and affordably with clean energy – yet SDG&E is pushing a proposal for a huge amount of unnecessary, expensive and polluting fossil power.

In addition to costing energy customers billions of dollars, this natural gas bonanza carries a big price tag for our climate. The California Air Resources Board has already reported an increase in climate pollution from natural gas generation in the wake of the nuclear plant’s closure. Permanently increasing our dependence on fossil power would put California even father behind on our carbon reduction and clean energy targets. That’s a loss on climate progress that we simply can’t afford.

We pride ourselves in giving members like you ways to say YES to solar rather than NO to dirty energy – but we feel strongly that SDG&E’s costly natural gas plan is worth a resounding no. There is no reason to increase our reliance on the fossil fuels of the past when plentiful, affordable clean energy options are ready to meet that need.

Sign the petition to stop this dirty energy proposal in its tracks, and send a clear message to all California utilities that energy consumers demand clean affordable energy options.

 

CLEAN L.A. Solar continues to shine

With abundant sunshine and vastly underutilized rooftops, solar energy is a natural fit for Los Angeles. And the CLEAN L.A. Solar program is helping the city seize this opportunity.

Launched in early 2013 by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), CLEAN L.A. Solar is designed to bring 150 megawatts (MW) of solar energy online by 2016 – enough to power more than 21,000 homes. By offering a must-take, fixed-rate, 20-year contract, this program enables businesses and commercial property-owners to generate energy from rooftop solar panels and sell power to the utility. Currently, this CLEAN Program is the largest among any municipal utility nationwide.

Through CLEAN L.A. Solar, LADWP sought to “achieve the target level of solar energy, catalyze the solar industry and create jobs, and streamline the process to increase efficiency.”As LADWP’s Board prepares to vote on opening the 4th tranche, let’s take a detailed look at the program’s performance to date.

Achieve the target level of solar energy

CLEAN L.A. Solar was designed to help LADWP meet the statewide RPS goal of 33% by 2020, as well as Senate Bills 32 and 1332 that require the utility to provide a standard offer program for roughly 75 MW of capacity. 

On this front, the program is performing well. Within its first week, LADWP received applications totaling 107 MW – highlighting significant market demand to build distributed solar projects in Southern California. Each successive tranche has continued to be highly attractive to the market. The most recent 20 MW tranche, which was unanimously approved by the DWP Board in February, received 45 project applications totaling 43 MW.

With 99 MW of projects reviewed and 50 MW of projects active, CLEAN L.A. Solar will undoubtedly ensure that LADWP meets its mandated renewable energy goals.

Catalyze the solar industry and create jobs

Local power keeps energy dollars close to home, which strengthens the local economy through private investment and job creation.

A study by UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation found that CLEAN L.A. Solar would create over 2,000 jobs and drive more than $300 million of investment into the City from solar businesses and other companies related to the program. Through the first 40 MW, the program has created of 862 job and is on pace to met projected impacts.

And despite the conception that solar panels are only for the affluent, the benefits of CLEAN L.A. Solar are reaching Angelenos of all means. More than half of the projects are sited in areas with the highest solar potential and the highest economic need, according to the Los Angeles Business Council. The rise of distributed generation – from rooftop solar PV or otherwise – empowers communities to reap the benefits of clean local energy.

“What excites us about this program is the new opportunity it brings to address long standing issues in the communities of L.A. with high economic need. We will see job creation, small and medium-sized business development, and cleaner air to breathe,” said Bill Gallegos of Communities for a Better Environment. 

Streamline the process to increase efficiency

CLEAN L.A. Solar was designed to drive efficiency in the solar market by reducing the amount paid for solar energy over time. Through a “declining price tier system”, projects in the first tranche were offered $0.17/kWh, and the price offered drops in each subsequent tranche.

As the offered price has dropped, interest in the program has remained – signaling that the program is successfully driving towards a more efficient solar market.

Through a similar CLEAN Program, the Germans have streamlined the process of bringing clean local energy online and made their solar market decidedly more efficient than the United States’. Current rooftop solar installations in the U.S. are 2.5 times more expensive than in Germany, despite the fact that system equipment costs are largely comparable. The Germans have realized cost reductions for overhead, customer acquisition, and permitting through their CLEAN Program. As expected, CLEAN L.A. Solar is delivering these cost reductions as the local industry gains greater experience developing projects in a predictable market, which also improves supply chain and labor efficiencies.

California, with its superior solar resource and applicable tax incentives, has the potential to bring rooftop solar online even cheaper than in Germany. Replicating Germany’s market scale and efficiency can yield rooftop solar power between 5¢ and 7¢/kWh in California. Add in the cost of permitting, interconnection, and any applicable grid upgrades paid by facility owners, and the total cost of delivered energy to Californians comes out to 7-9¢/kWh. For more informative on how CLEAN L.A. Solar is leading the effort to drive solar market efficiency and cost reductions, please see the recent Clean Coalition memo on this topic.

A near-term expansion

Stars are aligning for a 4-fold expansion of CLEAN L.A. Solar.

During his campaign, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to increase the program from 150 MW to 600 MW. Now, City council members — as well as a broad coalition of business, civic, academic and environmental groups – are rallying support for this expansion. Last week, City Council President Herb Wesson announced his support for the expanded 600 MW program. This comes on top of ten Neighborhood Councils, which have passed motions to expand the program.

According to independent studies by UCLA and the Clean Coalition, expanding CLEAN L.A. Solar to this size would bring the city over 18,000 new job opportunities and up to $2 billion in private investment.

So the question becomes not how or why, but when?

We oppose AB 2145 (Bradford)

Download the opposition letter (PDF)

The Clean Coalition is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and a modern grid through technical, policy, and project development expertise.

The Clean Coalition strongly opposes Assembly member Bradford’s anti-competition and anti Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) bill, AB 2145. The proposed legislation limits local energy choice, violates the original intent of AB 117, thwarts California’s environmental goals, infringes upon local government decision-making, and will effectively destroy the future of CCA in the state of California.

AB 2145 Limits Consumer Choice

Utility customers in California do not vote (or opt-in) to choose their utility company. The monopoly structure of the California’s investor owned utilities prohibits it. The majority of residential customers in California who could be served by a Community Choice program have no say in their energy provider, nor the energy resources that are procured on their behalf. The State should not undermine the intent of AB 117 that provided for local energy choice, nor should it value the monopoly position of investor owned utilities over the interests of a local government that has chosen to exercise its statutory right in creating a local, public, not-for-profit agency to provide an energy alternative.

AB 2145 is an Assault on AB 117

Like CCA statutes in every other state, California’s AB 117 structures CCA as opt-out programs. The opt-out approach gives customers full choice but also provides greater certainty in the market and, importantly in California, helps level the playing field for small CCAs attempting to compete in a monopoly market of very large, well-capitalized utilities. Indeed, the inherent market power of investor owned utilities against CCAs, and the use of that market power to prevent them, was recognized by the legislature in the passage of SB 790 (2011).

To date, monopoly utility providers have dominated the industry, leaving little to no opportunity for smaller market entrants to viably exist. AB 2145 serves the interests of for-profit, shareholder-centric utilities by deeply harming a CCA’s ability to achieve local scale and economic viability.  An opt-in requirement for CCAs will return California to a monopoly reality — no consumer choice, less market innovation, and fewer opportunities to achieve aggressive greenhouse reduction targets.

AB 2145 Thwarts California’s Environmental Goals

Many local governments are looking to CCA’s for cost effectively achieving local Climate Action Plans/GHG reduction plans that support and exceed state. AB 2514 will make achieving local and state targets more difficult and more costly, while removing a mechanism for localities to promote local clean energy development.

Due to its extremely limiting nature, a CCA opt-in program would not allow for the dramatic increase in renewable energy purchases and greenhouse gas reductions that are present in current and potential CCAs throughout California. For example, Marin Clean Energy provides more than twice the amount of renewable energy as PG&E (much of it sourced in California) and MCE’s most recent published emissions rate is 19% lower than PG&E’s. Sonoma Clean Power has offered a 100% renewable energy product to its customers sourced from an in-County geothermal facility. In fact, AB 2145 runs directly counter to the State’s AB 32 GHG reduction goals. Why? Because an opt-in approach severely limits the viability of a CCA and defaults the vast majority of would-be CCA customers to utilities with lower renewable supply portfolios, higher emissions rates, and less local accountability to rapidly switch to clean power resources.

AB 2145 Infringes Upon Local Control and Accountability

AB 2145 is an attack on a local government’s statutory right to pursue CCA in a manner that allows it to exist at the local level, respond to community goals, and still compete with large monopoly utilities. AB 2145 is a repeat attempt to kill CCA in California, similar to that of AB 976 (2011) and Proposition 16 (2010), both of which failed. The issues present in Proposition 16 that supported monopoly protection have already been addressed and rejected by California voters.  AB 2145 is another blatant attempt to limit energy choice and local decision-making. It should be opposed.

AB 2145 is a Red-Herring Bill

In order to stop the expansion of CCA in California, AB 2145 creates the perception of a problem where none exists. As mandated by AB 117, a formal opt-out process begins after months (even years) of local CCA development, local press, and public outreach. Every utility customer is given multiple ways over a minimum four-month public noticing process to make a choice when a CCA begins offering service in a new community. At least four opt-out notices are served upon every customer in a CCA jurisdiction, which is in addition to all the other public outreach mentioned above. Moreover, customers can easily opt out at any time after the formal public noticing process. There is no such requirement or frankly, opportunity, for customers of existing monopoly utilities.

In Conclusion

The Clean Coalition urges California policymakers to oppose AB 2145. In doing so, you will be protecting the interests of California consumers and the right of local governments to choose CCA as an energy alternative on behalf their community.