Community choice aggregators in California added 1,400 MW of new renewable deals this year, to reach more than 11,225 MW of long-term non fossil energy resource agreements to date.
These contracts represent more than $14 billion in renewable and energy storage projects. They are estimated to support a total 24,000 construction jobs.
“CCAs are procuring the diversity of resources that are needed for the state to achieve a 100% clean electricity system, with a focus on affordability, reliability, and resilience,” California CCA Executive Director Beth Vaughan said in a statement at the end of last week.
CCAs inked a total of 243 agreements for solar, wind, energy storage, geothermal, demand response, and biogas running between 10 to 25 years, with all to be operational by 2026.
Community energy organizations in the Golden State provide electricity to a third of the customers in the three investor-owned utilities’ territories.
The new and expected projects will be built in 27 counties, from Humboldt County to San Diego County, and also in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah.
Of the total 11 GW of agreements, 4 GW are online.
Choosing 100% Clean Energy
In late October, the Clean Power Alliance in Southern California announced eight cities and one county chose 100% fossil free energy as the default supply. Beverly Hills, Camarillo, Claremont, Hawthorne, Redondo Beach, unincorporated Los Angeles County, and businesses in Rolling Hills Estates and South Pasadena selected 100% Green Power.
In July, a new 30 MW geothermal facility built by Ormat in Mammoth Lakes in Mono County came online. Just under half of the capacity is serving Central Coast Community Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy under a 10-year contract.
In addition, California’s first 100% renewable microgrid went online in June. It serves the airport in Humboldt County and powers the Coast Guard during power outages.
To date, 10 states across the country have approved legislation enabling community energy. They are Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Virginia, in addition to California.
CCAs in California and New York serve customers power plans that are devoid of fossil fuel and have started providing community solar to struggling communities to reduce pollution and energy costs, Alison Elliot, Local Energy Aggregation Network interim executive director, said during a Nov. 15 webinar.
In August, San Jose began providing community solar energy to 800 customers in low-income communities at a 20% discount. “There is a long waiting list,” Elliot said.
In late October, Peninsula Clean Energy signed a contract for a 3 MW solar project that will serve disadvantaged customers in San Mateo County and the City of Los Banos. It is estimated to result in a 20% savings in utility bills.
In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Community Renewable Energy Act, which will include community solar paired with batteries to overcome photovoltaic rooftop barriers, including for disadvantaged community households and renters. More than half of the supply is to go to low-income Californians.
“California has led the nation on solar, but fallen short on community renewable energy, leaving behind a huge swath of customers and undermining the state’s ability to achieve its equity and climate change policy goals,” said Charlie Coggeshall, director of regulatory affairs at the Coalition for Community Solar Access, prior to passage of AB 2316. The coalition sponsored the measure.
A number of states have been hammered by the spike in energy costs, particularly on the East Coast. Costs have quadrupled in New York and gone up by as much as 34% in Massachusetts. However, those served by CCAs have been insulated from the big increases, Elliot said.
But CCA customers in Ohio and Illinois were returned to the utility that previously served them because of soaring energy cost. That includes a 650,000 member CCA in Ohio.