Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC)

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About PAEC

The Clean Coalition’s Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) initiative will accelerate the planning, approval, and deployment of an Advanced Energy Community (AEC) in southern San Mateo County. The project is supported by a broad range of collaborators, including Pacific Gas & Electric and numerous local governments.

PAEC provides 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.

PAEC is made possible by a grant through the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program.

Benefits of Advanced Energy Communities

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 major barriers too often impede their planning and deployment. Finding viable sites, securing project financing, and connecting AEC projects to the grid all represent serious 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.

Key AEC components in the PAEC initiative:

  • 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
  • Charging infrastructure to support the rapid growth of electric vehicles (EVs)

The PAEC region and beyond

PAEC region: southern San Mateo County (highlighted)

The PAEC region encompasses all of San Mateo County, California, including the City of Palo Alto. The core region for the PAEC initiative is the southern portion of San Mateo County, including the cities of Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto, and their unincorporated areas.

Many areas in California are experiencing commercial and residential growth pressure similar to that in the PAEC region. This means that elements of PAEC can be replicated in other areas.

Specific PAEC 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 the use of natural gas and minimize the need for expensive utility upgrades.
  • Create a model project and project elements focused on increasing economic, environmental, and resilience benefits that can be replicated throughout California and beyond.

Project findings and reports

The PAEC initiative has produced a number of ground-breaking studies and reports.


Master Case Study and Master Community Design

The PAEC Initiative studied projects that incorporate one or more components of an AEC and found dozens of projects worthy of emulation because they overcome economic or policy barriers. The team uncovered key findings about where to focus attention when developing AECs, in three main areas: economic, policy, and technical. The team also created a Master Community Design for an AEC in a disadvantaged community.

Read more and view the reports here

Economic benefits of energy efficiency and fuel switching for commercial-scale buildings

The PAEC team studied the economics of eight energy efficiency measures for five commercial-scale building types. Using a consistent approach to calculate payback, each report analyzes measures such as LED lighting conversion, building management systems (BMS) and advanced controls, reduction in phantom loads, and more. The reports show which measures provide the most savings and quickest payback times, and how savings can be realized by bundling various measures.

Read more and view the reports here

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI)

The PAEC initiative will foster the expansion of electric vehicles (EVs) by implementing smart designs, plans, and strategies for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (EVCI). Along with potential location evaluations, the PAEC team evaluated the cost-effectiveness to EV drivers of the EVCIs that offer the best value in terms of economic, environmental, and technical performance.

Read more and view the reports here

EVCI density in San Mateo County

Energy storage

Distributed energy storage is in its infancy. But as project costs decrease, the market is expected to grow rapidly. Resilient solar+storage systems can also add value to the grid and to communities. The PAEC initiative reviewed financial factors in moving the market forward, as well as the role of standardized and streamlined permitting for distributed energy storage.

Read more and view the reports here

Solar+Storage Providing Backup to Critical Load During Grid Outage Events

Net zero energy: Atherton Civic Center

The new civic center plan for the Town of Atherton, in the PAEC region, studied key sustainable strategies that assist in lowering resource demand, including energy, water, material, and carbon. The study identified feasible, scalable, and regional strategies that can be easily replicated, while serving as an educational tool for the broader community.

Read more and view the report here

Emergency Operations Center and City Hall for Atherton’s new 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. With a combination of solar, energy storage, and monitoring, communications, and control, Solar Emergency Microgrids can provide indefinite backup power for critical loads like police and fire stations, emergency operations centers and shelters, and communications and water infrastructure.

Read more and view the report here

Solar Emergency Microgrid

Solar Siting Survey to identify the potential for local solar generation

The Clean Coalition’s Solar Siting Survey methodology evaluates all prospective solar sites and the interconnection hosting capacity for each site. The methodology assesses the technical siting potential for built-environment sites, including rooftops, parking lots, and parking garages, which are essential for procuring wholesale distributed generation. A Solar Siting Survey conducted in the PAEC region in March 2017 identified more than 400 prospective commercial-scale solar sites with over 65 MW of commercial-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) potential.

Read more and view the reports here

PAEC Solar Siting Survey

Streamlining the interconnection of advanced energy solutions to the grid

Interconnection is a significant barrier in developing distributed energy resources (DER) and achieving statewide energy and emission goals. The PAEC initiative seeks to educate policymakers and stakeholders on beneficial reforms that will keep interconnection processes efficient and cost-effective while maintaining a safe and reliable electric grid. The initiative also establishes a pilot to facilitate interconnection for wholesale distributed generation projects.

Read more and view the report here

State Rules Establishing Interconnection Approval Timelines for Systems < 10 kW

Streamlining local government planning and permitting

The PAEC team developed a methodology for prioritizing a set of model ordinances for further development, with associated recommendations for local government interventions in both existing buildings and new construction. Working with key stakeholders, the team identified AEC planning and permitting ordinances that can be scalable to other cities in the county and statewide.

Read more and view the report here

DNV GL Smart Green Cities Report, 2015, based on interviews with cities across the U.S.

Additional reports

Energy Tracking/Benchmarking Tool Report
Final PAEC Project Fact Sheet
Final Report Interviews with Public Agencies, Installers, and Vendors
Final Scorecard of Sustainability Features
Final Scorecard of Sustainability Features (Excel spreadsheet)
Lending, Customer Compensation, and Government Incentive Report
Literature Review & ISO-RTO Tariff Analysis

Learn More


In the Best practices for building Advanced Energy Communities webinar series, from January through June 2018, the authors of several new groundbreaking PAEC studies present highlights of their findings.


Bridging the gap: PAEC Master Case Study reveals ways to accelerate advanced energy solutions (May 31, 2018)
Supercharging the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure (April 30, 2018)
Splitting up with split incentives (March 31, 2018)
Keeping the lights on after natural disasters (February 28, 2018)
Energy storage is about to take off (January 31, 2018)
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

Permitting 2.0: A crucial step on the road to our clean energy future |PV Magazine (September 22, 2018)
How solar emergency microgrids provide resilience to vulnerable communities | PV Magazine (May 21, 2018)
How Solar Emergency Microgrids Keep the Lights on After Natural Disasters | PV Solar Report (March 26, 2018)
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)


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