East Bay Choice Adopts $4.5M/Year Plan

19 Jul 2018

Northern California’s newest community energy program unanimously adopted a $22.5 million, five-year business plan to develop local energy resources, electrify transportation, increase energy efficiency and create local jobs.

“This will help us not only provide local clean energy that is more affordable, but also investments in local jobs and development,” City of Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arequin said at the East Bay Community Energy’s July 18 meeting where the plan was adopted.

The aggregator, which launched in June, includes the County of Alameda, and cities of Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Piedmont, Oakland, San Leandro and Union City. The choice program is replacing Pacific Gas & Electric’s power portfolio for the area.

The business plan is to be launched in three phases to enable the East Bay “to make tangible progress across a wide-range of local development strategies,” positioning it “to iteratively measure the impact of these actions in areas like jobs created, greenhouse gas emissions reduced, customer cost-savings, and dollar cost,” it states.

It is to include $4.5 million of annual investments. The first year’s investments, which are to start this September, involve pilot programs. The approved investments include:

  • $500,000 in incentives for transportation electrification;
  • $450,000 in community grants;
  • $225,000 in community net energy metering to provide resource adequacy, specifically 5 MW of solar and storage;
  • $223,368 to support a municipal feed-in tariff for 5 MW of solar power;
  • $150,000 for technical assistance to develop community-shared solar for renters and others unable to invest in solar rooftops;
  • $100,00 each for technical studies to promote demand response and energy efficiency; and
  • $50,000 for studying how to increase building electrification.

The pilot programs are to be reviewed for effectiveness at the end of the first year.

The annual review is be conducted by a working group to “inform which programs to scale up and down,” said Nick Chaset, East Bay Community Energy chief executive officer.

There will be annual assessments for the next five years and they could result in “a reset for the next five years,” added the former chief of staff for Mike Picker, California Public Utilities Commission president.

The 2018-19 investments do not include funding to convert the old polluting Oakland Power plant owned by Dynegy. East Bay energy and PG&E have agreed to jointly develop clean replacement supplies.

The East Bay plan, considered a work in progress, also doesn’t yet fund a 2018 request for renewable energy proposals. The assumption is that the community aggregator will contract for at least 20 MW of renewables located in Alameda County.

Chaset told the board that the customer opt-out rate for the new community choice program is 1 percent to date, which represents 3 percent of load. The opt-outs are because of concerns over “rate stability,” he noted.

Following the local business plan adoption, which was greeted with enthusiasm from local clean energy advocates, the board also adopted its Integrated Resource Plan. It is to be filed with CPUC by the end of this month.

The East Bay aggregator’s greenhouse gas emissions are to drop to 1.09 million metric tons, according to the CPUC. That’s a fraction of the statewide target of 42 million metric tons of emissions, which is supposed to be achieved by 2030.

Some 85 to 90 percent of East Bay’s portfolio is to consist of carbon-free resources, said Howard Chang, EBCE chief executive office. Of the renewables portion, 75 percent are to be under long-term contracts with the remaining 25 percent under short-term agreements “to manage risk and volatility,” he added.

Elizabeth McCarthy

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