Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC)

The Clean Coalition’s Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) initiative, supported by Pacific Gas & Electric and numerous local governments, will accelerate the planning, approval, and deployment of an Advanced Energy Community (AEC) in southern San Mateo County. The PAEC region is all of San Mateo County, including the City of Palo Alto. The core PAEC region is the southern portion of San Mateo County, encompassing the cities of Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto, and their unincorporated areas.

The PAEC region is experiencing enormous commercial and residential growth pressure like similar areas throughout the state. This means that elements of PAEC can be replicable in other areas. The PAEC initiative will include the key components of an AEC, such as abundant solar electricity, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources (DER), low or zero net energy buildings, Solar Emergency Microgrids for power management and support of critical facilities during outages, and charging infrastructure to support the rapid growth of electric vehicles (EV).


Along with a broad range of collaborators, PAEC will showcase the benefits of an AEC, a replicable approach to modernizing the electric grid. AEC projects can provide significant energy, environmental, economic, resilience, and security benefits, but significant barriers too often impede their planning and deployment. Finding viable sites, securing project financing, and connecting AEC projects to the grid all represent significant challenges. The PAEC initiative is designed to overcome these barriers and establish a replicable model that can be used by other communities across California and beyond. The results of PAEC will inform future action by policymakers, municipalities, governmental agencies, utility executives, and other key stakeholders.

PAEC is made possible from a grant through the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which offered “The EPIC Challenge: Accelerating the Deployment of Advanced Energy Communities.”

PAEC region: southern San Mateo County (highlighted)

PAEC is an opportunity for the Clean Coalition to develop innovative and replicable approaches for accelerating the deployment of AECs. It is anticipated that, based on 25 megawatts (MW) of peak demand reduction, the initiative will 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.

Goals and objectives

The goals and objectives of this project are to:

  • Incentivize and accelerate the planning, approval, financing, and deployment of AECs.
  • Reduce the time, cost, and uncertainty associated with permitting and interconnecting commercial-scale solar and other DER.
  • Leverage zero net energy, efficiency, local renewables, energy storage, and other DER to reduce 25 MW of peak energy across southern San Mateo County.
  • Reduce use of natural gas and minimize the need for expensive utility upgrades.
  • Create a model project and project elements that focus on increasing economic, environmental, and resilience benefits that can be replicated throughout California and beyond.

Economic Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Fuel Switching for Commercial-Scale Buildings


Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (EVCI)

The PAEC initiative will foster the expansion of EVs by implementing smart designs, plans, and strategies for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (EVCI). Deploying EVCI will provide environmental benefits to the region’s communities while facilitating the adoption of EVs for residents who are interested in them.

In Palo Alto, to encourage the rapid expansion of EVCI, the City of Palo Alto Utilities offers generous rebates to nonprofits, schools, and multi-family complexes to install charging stations. Palo Alto already has more EV charging stations than most comparably sized cities; however, the anticipated growth of EVs means many more will be required in the near future. The city currently owns and operates 40 charging ports, and it plans to double that number.

EV charging stations in Palo Alto | Source: City of Palo Alto


Finance and Business Models for AECs


Net Zero Energy: Atherton Civic Center


Solar Emergency Microgrid

PAEC will include at least one Solar Emergency Microgrid that the Clean Coalition is designing to provide renewables-driven power backup to critical facilities.

A Solar Emergency Microgrid has three basic components: 1) solar, 2) energy storage, and 3) monitoring, communications, and control. Solar Emergency Microgrids are designed to provide indefinite backup power for critical loads, like police and fire stations, emergency operations centers and shelters, and critical communications and water infrastructure.

Solar Emergency Microgrid

Solar Siting Survey

A Solar Siting Survey conducted in the PAEC region in March 2017 identified over 65 MW of commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) potential. The survey pinpointed viable locations and project sizing for prospective commercial solar installations.

In the PAEC Solar Siting Survey, the Clean Coalition evaluated thousands of prospective locations to identify sites in built environments best suited for solar PV installations of at least 100 kilowatts. Overall, more than 400 prospective commercial solar sites were located, which have the potential to provide enough clean local energy to satisfy peak usage of over 65,000 homes. Many more siting opportunities of different capacities in the PAEC region are coming soon.

The Clean Coalition’s Solar Siting Survey methodology evaluates all prospective solar sites. The methodology is able to assess the technical siting potential for built-environment sites, including rooftops, parking lots, and parking garages, which are essential for procuring wholesale distributed generation.

Solar Siting Surveys also evaluate the interconnection hosting capacity for each site to meet the minimum solar project size requirement. The interconnection hosting capacity is vital to understanding whether a solar project can be interconnected to the grid in a cost-effective manner, and is a critical determinant in assessing the overall cost-effectiveness of a solar project.

PAEC Solar Siting Survey

Reports and Downloads:

Streamlining the Interconnection of Advanced Energy Solutions to the Grid


Streamlining of Local Government Planning and Permitting


Latest updates

Model ordinances: Showing the way to a clean energy future (December 25, 2017)
Building owners may be losing money by not investing in energy efficiency (November 28, 2017)
What Puerto Rico teaches us about power resilience for all communities (October 25, 2017)
No heat molecule left behind: Stanford’s district-level heat recovery system (September 29, 2017)
Collaborating and innovating to expand clean local energy in San Mateo County (August 31, 2017)
Connecting renewables to the grid faster… much faster (July 31, 2017)
Best practices encouraging clean local energy deployment in California (June 30, 2017)
Expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Palo Alto (May 31, 2017)
A pathway to zero net energy: Atherton, California (April 30, 2017)
Palo Alto’s Jewish Community Center: Heating and cooling in newer, cleaner ways (March 31, 2017)
Solar Siting Survey: Identifying vast potential for clean energy in southern San Mateo County (February 28, 2017)
The reality of implementing 100% clean local energy (January 31, 2017)
Palo Alto is aiming high by going low… carbon (December 29, 2016)
Peninsula Advanced Energy Community launches, will provide framework for the future of clean energy (November 16, 2016)
California Energy Commission selects the Peninsula Advanced Energy Community for grant award (March 29, 2016)

Media coverage

Solutions for Connecting Local Renewable Energy to the Grid More Quickly | PV Solar Report (October 2, 2017)
An EPIC Approach to Deploying Advanced Energy Communities | Local Government Commission (December 22, 2016)

Press releases

Solutions for connecting local renewable energy to the grid more quickly (September 28, 2017)
Solar Siting Survey identifies substantial solar potential on built environments in California’s southern San Mateo County (May 17, 2017)

Webinar series

Best practices for building Advanced Energy Communities (January-June, 2018)

Contact us

If you own or control a commercial-scale property that should be considered for PAEC participation, please contact Frank Wasko, Program Director, at