Peninsula Advanced Energy Community


The Peninsula Advanced Energy Community (PAEC) is a groundbreaking initiative to streamline policies and showcase projects that facilitate local renewables and other advanced energy solutions like energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The PAEC will create pathways to cost-effective clean local energy and community resilience throughout San Mateo County and the City of Palo Alto; and beyond. The PAEC is a collaboration between the Clean Coalition, the California Energy Commission (CEC), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and an array of municipalities, emergency response jurisdictions, schools and universities, and corporate entities.


The Clean Coalition, along with a broad range of collaborators, is leading the development of the PAEC, which will showcase the benefits of the Advanced Energy Community (AEC), a replicable approach to modernizing the electric grid.

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

Supported by PG&E and numerous local governments, the PAEC is an opportunity for the Clean Coalition to develop innovative and replicable approaches for accelerating the deployment of AECs. The CEC defines an AEC 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 initiative 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. It is anticipated based on the equivalent of 25 MW of local solar photovoltaic, 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 Atherton

Components of the Atherton Civic Center, which are key features of the sustainability framework of the PAEC

The vision of the Advanced Energy Community

The State of California encourages the creation of AECs as places where electricity demand is met through efficiency, renewable energy, and storage. In order for the PAEC to be successful, replicable, and aligned with the State’s vision, it must meet these strategic goals:

  • A high percentage of power in the coverage regions are generated from local, renewable sources.
  • The energy used by residential and business customers are used as efficiently as possible.
  • New commercial construction consists 100% zero net energy buildings before the CEC’s 2030 Title 24 requirement.
  • More than 50% of existing commercial buildings in the coverage regions retrofit to zero net energy before the CEC’s 2030 Title 24 requirement.
  • Approval of AEC projects is quick and efficient, and capital to fund AEC projects is readily available to be disbursed.
  • Interconnecting local renewables to the electrical grid is straightforward.
  • The grid is stable, robust, and reliable.
  • Energy storage is affordable and widespread.
  • Electric transportation replaces the internal combustion engine and electric vehicles in the coverage regions support the grid.
  • Solar Emergency Microgrids are installed at all critical facilities, including police and fire stations, emergency operations centers, and emergency shelters.

PAEC scope of work

Specific components of the PAEC include:

  • Streamlining permits, codes, and ordinances: The PAEC team will work with local governments to facilitate the planning, approval, and deployment of AECs.
  • Financial and business models for AECs: The PAEC team will develop comprehensive financial and business models to help make AECs affordable and attractive investments.
  • Streamlining the connection of AECs to the grid: The PAEC team will work with Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities to reduce the time, cost, and uncertainty associated with connecting distributed energy resources to the grid.
  • Electric vehicle charging infrastructure master plan: The PAEC team will create a model electric vehicle charging infrastructure master plan for one of the PAEC cities.
  • Atherton Civic Center sustainability features: The PAEC team will work with the Civic Center project team to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of sustainability features for the town of Atherton’s new Civic Center.
  • Solar Siting Survey: The PAEC team will conduct a comprehensive survey of the PAEC region to identify all commercial-scale sites capable of hosting solar PV installations 100 kW and larger.
  • Solar Emergency Microgrids: The PAEC team will design a Solar Emergency Microgrid (detailed below) within the PAEC region to provide renewables-driven power backup to a critical facility.

The PAEC region

  • Core PAEC region: The core region of the PAEC covers southern San Mateo County within the boundaries of Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto — including embedded unincorporated areas. The map below highlights critical facilities in the core region that can be powered by the Solar Emergency Microgrid.
  • Broad PAEC region: The broader region of the PAEC covers all of San Mateo County, plus the City of Palo Alto.
  • California and beyond: The overall PAEC coverage region is representative of typical suburban California: a largely built-out area that struggles with the pressures of development. The PAEC can be replicated in other areas of this type with relative ease.

Latest updates

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

An EPIC Approach to Deploying Advanced Energy Communities | Local Government Commission (December 22, 2016)

Solar Siting Survey

PAEC Solar Siting Survey (Overview)
PAEC Solar Siting Survey (Google Map)
PAEC Solar Siting Survey (Google Earth file)
PAEC Solar Siting Survey summary (PDF)
PAEC Solar Siting Survey data (Excel spreadsheet)

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