Paris Climate Deal Seen Costing $12.1 Trillion Over 25 Years

January 29, 2016

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg

If the world is serious about halting the worst effects of global warming, the renewable energy industry will require $12.1 trillion of investment over the next quarter century, or about 75 percent more than current projections show for its growth.

 

That’s the conclusion of a report setting out the scale of the challenge facing policymakers as they look for ways to implement the Paris Agreement that in December set a framework for more than 195 nations to rein in greenhouse gases.

 

The findings from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmentalists, show that wind parks, solar farms and other alternatives to fossil fuels are already on course to get $6.9 trillion over the next 25 years through private investment spurred on by government support mechanisms. Another $5.2 trillion is needed to reach the United Nations goal of holding warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) set out in the climate agreement.

 

“The clean energy industry could make a very significant contribution to achieving the lofty ambitions expressed by the Paris Agreement,” said Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a London-based research group. “To do so, investment volume is going to need to more than double, and do so in the next three to five years. That sort of increase will not be delivered by business as usual. Closing the gap is both a challenge and an opportunity for investors.”

 

The required expenditure averages about $484 billion a year over the period, compared with business-as-usual levels of $276 billion, according to Bloomberg calculations. Renewables attracted a record $329 billion of investment in 2015, BNEF estimates.

 

While the figures are large, they’re not as eye-watering as the International Energy Agency’s projection that it will cost $13.5 trillion between now and 2030 for countries to implement their Paris pledges, and that an extra $3 billion on top of that will help meet the temperature target. Those figures aren’t just limited to renewables: they also include energy efficiency measures.

 

Envoys from 195 nations sealed the first deal to fight climate change that binds all countries to cut or limit greenhouse gases at a United Nations summit in Paris last month. They agreed to hold temperatures to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

 

“Policymakers worldwide need to provide stable, long- lasting policies that will unleash far bigger capital flows,” said Sue Reid, vice-president of climate and clean energy at Ceres, a nonprofit group. “The Paris agreement sent a powerful signal, creating tremendous momentum for policymakers and investors to take actions to accelerate renewable energy growth at the levels needed.”

Cheers,
Bruce Karney

Congress Passes Tax Credits for Solar and Wind: ‘Sausage-Making at Its Most Intense’

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The biggest federal policy development of the year for renewables plays out on Congress’ last day of work in 2015.

By Stephen Lacey
December 18, 2015

Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a spending package today that includes multi-year extensions of solar and wind tax credits, plus one-year extensions for a range of other renewable energy technologies.

The pair of bills, which included tax extenders and $1.1 trillion in funding to keep the government running for the next year, passed hours before lawmakers adjourned for the holidays.

“May the force be with you,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, urging her fellow Senators to vote in favor of the package shortly after the House approved the bills.

The force was certainly with renewables.

Under the legislation, the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar will be extended for another three years. It will then ramp down incrementally through 2021, and remain at 10 percent permanently beginning in 2022.

The 2.3-cent Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind will also be extended through next year. Projects that begin construction in 2017 will see a 20 percent reduction in the incentive. The PTC will then drop 20 percent each year through 2020.

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Also included were geothermal, landfill gas, marine energy and incremental hydro, which will each get a one-year PTC extension. Those technologies will also qualify for a 30 percent ITC, if developers choose. In addition, the bill expanded grants for energy and water efficiency.

Business groups and analysts say the extensions will support tens of billions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of thousands of new jobs throughout the U.S.

“There’s no way to overstate this — the extension of the solar ITC is the most important policy development for U.S. solar in almost a decade,” said MJ Shiao, GTM’s director of solar research.

According to GTM Research, the ITC extension will help spur nearly 100 cumulative gigawatts of solar installations by 2020, resulting in $130 billion in total investment. More than $40 billion of investment will be “directly attributable to the passage of the extension,” said Shiao.

The American Wind Energy Association expects similar growth. The group did not issue precise figures, but said the PTC extension would support tens of gigawatts of new wind projects through 2020.

The legislation also lifts a 40-year ban on exports of crude oil produced in the U.S. In exchange for lifting the ban, Democrats pushed for multi-year extensions of renewable energy tax credits and demanded that Republicans strip out any riders that would weaken environmental laws.

Both sides got what they wanted.

However, Pelosi publicly worried yesterday that she didn’t have enough votes to support the bill. Many Democrats expressed concern about the oil export ban tradeoff, saying it would increase subsidies to fossil fuels and boost carbon emissions.

Congressional leaders and the White House lobbied hard to convince the Democratic base that the bill would be a win for the environment.

“While lifting the oil ex­port ban re­mains atrocious policy, the wind and solar tax credits in the Om­ni­bus will eliminate around 10 times more car­bon pollution than the ex­ports of oil will add,” wrote Pelosi in a letter to lawmakers.

Katherine Hamilton, a partner with 38 North Solutions, called the bill “sausage-making at its most intense.”

“The product should be palatable for most parties in clean energy. Extensions for renewables and efficiency tax credits were key sweeteners. In addition, clean energy R&D funding, land and water conservation funds, and clean energy funds were included in the deal,” she said.

Other independent analysts found that the deal would be a net positive for the climate. Although emissions would increase slightly because of increased drilling activity, they would be easily offset by increasing renewable energy development and decreased coal consumption.

“Our bottom line: Extension of the tax credits will do far more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years than lifting the export ban will do to increase them. While this post offers no judgment of the budget deal as a whole, the deal, if passed, looks like a win for climate,” wrote Council on Foreign Relations fellows Michael Levi and Varun Sivaram.

The tax credit extensions cap a big month for renewable energy policy.

In early December, world leaders agreed to a framework for lowering global greenhouse gas emissions — a deal that will leverage hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment for clean technologies.

And earlier this week, California regulators issued a new proposal on net metering that would preserve the retail rate paid to rooftop solar systems. The new rules — combined with the continued federal tax credit — will ensure strong activity in the top solar state.

National groups will now likely reset their sights on local battles around the U.S., said Hamilton.

“The renewable energy industries can turn their focus to state and local policies, siting and permitting issues, and compliance strategies for the Clean Power Plan,” she said.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law today.

Congress Is on the Verge of Passing Multi-Year Extensions for Solar and Wind Tax Credits

Lawmakers reached a compromise as part of a spending package. Will there be enough votes to pass it this week?

by Stephen Lacey
December 16, 2015
28

House Republicans unveiled legislation late Tuesday night that included multi-year extensions of tax credits for solar and wind.

The credit extensions were attached to a broad set of spending measures as part of a negotiation with Democrats over lifting the ban on exports of U.S. crude oil.

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, predicted in November that solar tax credits would likely be added to any deal around lifting the oil export ban. He called it “our best opportunity.”

“Democrats are saying, ‘We need to get something for it,’ and the White House is chiming in too,” said Resch.

This month, Republicans demanded an end to the 40-year-old ban as part of a legislative tax and spending package that would fund the government through next fall.

Although many Democrats oppose ending the ban, they saw it as an opportunity to demand extensions of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind.

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Yesterday afternoon, Democratic leaders said they would only support the Republican proposal if renewable energy credits were added to a tax or spending bill.

“We have 2 paths: 1. Pair oil export ban with policies to reduce carbon emissions; 2. Pass gov’t funding without oil/renewables,” tweeted Senator Harry Reid yesterday afternoon.

In 1975, Congress made it illegal for domestic drillers to ship crude out of the country. The export ban was designed to protect America from volatile oil prices in the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo. As U.S. production dwindled over the proceeding years, the policy was not contested.

Today, America is a leading producer of crude — and drillers argue they should be able to export oil as an incentive to expand production.

Some see the tradeoff as a good deal.

“An oil-exports-for-renewables-tax-credits deal looks likely to be a win-win. Removing the oil export ban is good policy. Supporting zero-carbon energy innovation, including through appropriate deployment subsidies, is good policy,” wrote Michael Levi, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a recent analysis of the deal.

Last night, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled an omnibus spending bill that would lift the ban, while also extending solar and wind tax credits for two years.

The PTC — a 10-year, 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour credit — would be extended through 2020. After December of 2016, the credit would be cut each year until it fully expired in 2020.

The ITC — a 30 percent credit for utility, commercial and rooftop solar installations — would get phased down through 2022. The credit would stay at 30 percent through 2019, and then fall to 26 percent in 2020. It would drop to 22 percent in 2021 and 10 percent in 2022. The bill also offers a commence-construction clause that would extend the credit to any project in development before 2024.

“The extension to the federal ITC is without question a game-changer for U.S. solar’s growth trajectory. Between now and 2020, the U.S. solar market is poised to see a number of new geographies open up with a 30% ITC, within both distributed and utility-scale solar,” said Cory Honeyman, a senior solar analyst at GTM Research.

The House and Senate will likely vote on the package Thursday night or Friday morning.

Although Democrats have signaled their willingness to support the deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg that broad agreement wasn’t guaranteed — even with strong extensions of renewable energy credits.

Opponents see lifting the ban as a massive subsidy to oil producers and an environmental risk. In an op-ed this week, climate activist Bill McKibben explained why so many progressive environmentalists opposed a change to the law.

“What makes the plan to lift the ban especially galling is that the administration and congressional Democrats insist they’re getting a reasonable deal because the Republicans will concede tax breaks for solar and wind producers in return. But the logic of the Paris accords — with their theoretical commitment to a world that will warm just 1.5 or 2 degrees — means that we don’t get to keep making this kind of tradeoff,” wrote McKibben.

Speaker Ryan assured reporters that he would get the votes to pass the package.

“I am not going to predict how the vote count will go down,” Ryan said this morning during a press event. “Look, in negotiations like this, you win some, you lose some. Democrats won some, they lost some, we won some, we lost some. At the end of the day, we are going to get this done.”

CPUC Rejects Plea for PCIA/Exit Fee Relief

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Dear LEAN Members, CCA Supporters and Friends,
Our efforts at the CPUC this morning yielded disappointing results with a 4-1 vote (Sandoval in opposition) to approve the proposed decision increasing the 2016 Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) by an uprecedented 95%.  This outcome was not a big surprise but disappointing nonetheless. The Commission did, however, agree to include additional parties in the next phase of the ERRA proceeding (having previoulsy rejected them) and hold a workshop on the PCIA issue, tentatively scheduled for February 16, 2016. More on that as plans develop.
On the plus side, the press conference and public comment period were a success and covered by a number of regional and statewide news outlets.  Commissioner Florio, the assigned Commissioner to this case, received a deluge of letters and e-mails which did not go unnoticed by the Commission. More than 50 people showed up for the press conference and hundreds expressed their concern through correspondence and during public open time. Thank you so much!
Our hope is that the February workshop will yield some positive results for long-term PCIA reform. But hope springs eternal, and we expect that any reforms will be modest at best. Legislative action may be required.
In an e-mail earlier today, Beth Kelly, Legal Director of MCE said it best: “We’ve lost this battle, but with your continued support, we hope to win the war.”  We couldn’t do this work without all of you and we are grateful for your steadfast participation.
Onward and stay tuned…today wasn’t the last word on utility exit fees.
A few photos from today’s event:
Ratha Lai_ Sierra Club
Ratha Lai, Sierra Club
Shawn Marshall_ LEAN
Shawn Marshall, LEAN Energy US
Tom Butt_ Richmond Mayor
Richmond Mayor, Tom Butt
Geof Syphers_ Sonoma Clean Power
Woody Hastings, Center for Climate Protection
Lane Sharman, San Diego Energy District Foundation
Francesca Vietor_ SF Water Sewer
Francesca Vietor, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
 LEAN Energy US is committed to the accelerated expansion and competitive success of clean energy CCA nationwide. LEAN (Local Energy Aggregation Network) is a member-supported organization, serving a national network of community leaders, local governments, consumers, advocacy organizations, power suppliers and developers working toward the protection and establishment of CCAs in their States and cities. To learn more, please visit us at 

 

Wind, solar credits on the chopping block?

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Congress could be close to phasing out the tax credits that have, for years, supported the booming wind and solar energy industries.

Tax writing committees in the House and Senate are working to introduce and pass a package of tax breaks before the end of the year to extend or renew a number of incentives like those for low-income housing, scientific research and small businesses.

While the wind and solar industry and their allies among environmentalists and Democrats want to protect the tax incentives for the long term, many conservatives want to phase them out.

As the committees negotiate the tax packages, lawmakers and observers say the most likely outcome is that both credits will be phased out over a five-year period.

The wind incentive is a production tax credit, meaning it gives utilities money back for each unit of electricity produced. The solar industry has an investment tax credit, based on the money spent to install the solar panels.

A phase-out would provide a certain amount of stability for the industries. But environmentalists lament the end of the incentives shortly after President Obama unveiled a sweeping climate change regulation for the power sector that’s expected to increase demand for renewable power like never before.

Obama frequently cheers the growth of renewable energy like wind and solar, and the low costs of the power — due in part to federal help — helps make the case for his climate regulations.

“These tax incentives are crucial for these clean energy technologies like wind and solar to continue to compete,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director at the Sierra Club.

“The mature industries like oil and gas continue to enjoy subsidies, and as wind and solar continue to grow, they absolutely need the certainty of these types of tax incentives to ensure that they can fill that market space that’s being created as we move away from coal,” she said.

The wind credit expired at the end of 2013. Congress renewed it in late 2014, but only for that year, and it has not been in place for 2015.

The solar incentive is due to expire at the end of 2016. But the industry is hoping that Congress will extend the credit now as it takes up a larger tax package.

The Solar Energy Industries Association said it does not need the tax credit permanently, but it would prefer a five-year extension without the phase-out.

Rhone Resch, the group’s president, said the solar industry thought it wouldn’t need the credit past 2016, but economic factors like the Great Recession changed the calculus.

“Our costs are down by 80 percent, we’re scaling up, we’re becoming more cost-competitive. But we do need a little bit longer,” he said. “We do, in the long run, have the intention to not be part of the tax code.”

The American Wind Energy Alliance is advocating for a “long-term” renewal of its credit, but the group does not get more specific than that.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill extending both the wind and solar credits. The House Ways and Means Committee’s September bill included neither.

Curt Beaulieu, a tax attorney at Bracewell & Giuliani, said the House Ways and Means Committee recently showed its members a draft negotiation bill that included the five-year phase-outs, but then ran into objections that the entire package was too expensive, and considered changing those credits.

“As recently as Friday morning, it looks like there has been life reborn in negotiating the package,” Beaulieu said. “My guess is that it would be similar to what the negotiated package was, but they would cut back on some of the costs by taking away some of the permanent provisions.”

Some lawmakers are discussing the possibility of inserting a provision into the tax bill to lift the ban on exporting crude oil, reasoning that Democrats could get a better deal on the renewable energy incentives in return. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top tax writers in each chamber, said oil exports are among the possibilities for the deal.

Conservatives object to the credits, saying they’re expensive and federal government ought not pick winners and losers in energy.

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), one of Congress’ most vocal opponents of the wind credit, said he’d prefer that it not be renewed at all, but he’ll take a phase-out as a win.

“It needs to be phased out, and I’d prefer a quicker phase-out. But I’ll take anything that looks like a victory.”

Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the wind and solar industries should be allowed to compete on their own without the federal government’s help.

“We want to get rid of targeted tax credits and subsidies for all sources of energy and technologies, and these are two that are generous handouts to an industry that claims that they don’t need support, and that they’re robust and economically healthy,” Loris said. “If that’s the case, they should survive and be competitive without these tax credits.”

But Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) warned that ending the incentives could threaten the success of renewable power, which is important in the fight against climate change.

“There are other things we have to be doing in this space,” Blumenauer said of the climate fight. “But for now, we’re fighting to get as much as we can to not upset what’s happening with renewables. They need stability and continued progress.”

Climate draft deal reached at Paris conference

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Negotiators from 195 countries in Paris on Saturday agreed to a tentative deal to reduce global carbon emissions, CNN reported.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) posted a copy of the draft on its website and pledged to work through next week at the COP21 Paris conference to reach a final agreement.

Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, tweeted that the draft is “One more step in writing of history.”

President Obama said at the kickoff of the conference that he was optimistic a deal would be struck.
“I think we’re going to solve it,” he said. “I think the issue is just going to be the pace and how much damage is done before we are able to fully apply the brakes.”
Ten Senate Democrats went to Paris on Friday in a show of support for the talks.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on Saturday told reporters that the group was “determined to make sure that Paris is a successful conference, and that we will see a day where we can meet the goal of reducing the damage that we’re doing to our planet.”
Joining Cardin in Paris are Sens. Cory Brooker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Chatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she is considering bringing a coalition of House Democrats to the talks at some point.
Republicans have expressed doubt about the efficacy of the talks and accused Obama of unduly prioritizing climate change over the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism.

Bay Area communities gearing up to create their own power systems

From Silicon Valley to the East Bay to the Central Coast, a “people’s power” movement is sweeping through California that will give local residents a choice to ditch PG&E and buy cleaner — and possibly cheaper — energy from the cities and counties where they live.

To its proponents, the idea is a no-brainer. But to its critics, it’s just a lot of hype — a feel-good solution that will lead to unstable prices, empty promises and — at least for the time being — no additional green energy.
  Overseen by a team of energy experts and a board of elected officials, new community-run utilities are buying power from the grid, procuring a higher percentage of renewable energy — think solar and wind, as well as methane from dairy cows — than PG&E, while aiming for a price around or even below the giant utility’s rates. The new power systems also are charged with developing more local renewable energy.

Elected officials in Silicon Valley — representing an alliance of Santa Clara County and most of its cities — are poised to decide in March whether to take the key steps necessary to develop a new electricity system that they say could be lighting homes by early 2017. And San Jose, the region’s largest city, is considering creating its own system.

Similar alliances are moving forward in San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. San Francisco’s power system is set to launch next year.

Whenever these plans are adopted, customers in the cities and counties are automatically enrolled, though they can opt out of the program at any time.

CCA Digest

CALIFORNIA Roundup, November 2015

    

A Message from LEAN’s Executive Director

As California’s CCA representatives prepare for participation in the United Nations’ Conference on Climate Change, the recent tragedy in Paris has put the topics of the conference in tragic and immediate perspective.

It is no longer open to question that climate change is here and already affecting communities all over the world. Climate change will increasingly affect the availability of arable land, energy resources and water supplies, which will in turn impact food security and local economies. Scarcity and dramatic environmental changes disrupt stable political systems and create tensions that can evolve into war. We must stand up to the potential challenges climate change presents with concrete, collaborative action. And so we travel to Paris to share the effective, local climate solution that is community choice aggregation.

We look forward to reporting on the UN Conference on Climate during next month’s CCA Market Call on December 11. In the meantime, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!
Shawn Marshall signature
SDG&E Plans Independent Marketing Affiliate



On November 20, SDG&E filed an advice letter with the CPUC stating its intention to form an independent marketing division through its parent company, Sempra. To comply with State law, the affiliate’s marketing activity must be funded by shareholders (not ratepayers), and must comply with the Code of Conduct in terms of factual content and accuracy related to CCA information.
SDG&E proposes an effective date of December 21, 2015, although the CPUC could slow the process if it has concerns regarding compliance with Commission rules.
LEAN Energy and the CCA community are still reviewing the advice letter and discussing a coordinated response.  Protests are due to the CPUC byDecember 10, 2015.  Information about where to send protests is included in the SDG&E Advice Letter, which you can find here.

Update on CCA Program Developments in California
The City of Paradise in Butte County recently hosted a meeting on the County’s potential move toward CCA.

Dozens of other California communities continue to move ahead with technical studies, community outreach and program planning. The following provides highlights only– for more information about activities in other communities, get in touch with LEAN Energy.

Other updates …   

City / County of San Francisco  
Prop H passed with support of CleanPowerSF advocates: IBEW 1245 measure (Prop G) removed from ballot / defeated
Humboldt & Lake Counties   Plan to issue RFP for CCA technical and program services–week of November 16
San Mateo County   
Board of Supervisors passed CCA ordinance; JPA resolution to be heard on 11/17; October 2016 program launch
City of San Jose  
Business and local government outreach underway; may form as a single city
Los Angeles County / South Bay Cities  
County moving ahead with tech study and business plan. Hermosa Beach pursuing two options: form as a single city or join County’s effort
Contra Costa County  
Exploring program options: form county-wide JPA, join MCE or join Alameda County’s effort
Silicon Valley Clean Energy   
Tech study complete; outreach to other Santa Clara County cities underway with March 2016 deadline for passage of JPA resolutions and CCA ordinances. Plan for early 2017 launch
Monterey Bay Tri-Counties
Tech study complete in December; targeted summer 2017 launch

CALL TO ACTION!
PUSH BACK ON A DOUBLING OF THE PCIA
PG&E’s proposal to nearly double its PCIA in 2016 would affect the viability of existing CCAs as well as communities considering launch in 2016, and will hurt all CCA customers, especially low income customers. In the CPUC’s proceeding on this issue (A1506001), MCE and LEAN have opposed the drastic increase in the PCIA and proposed ways to stabilize the PCIA without hurting existing utility “bundled” customers.

On November 13, the CPUC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a proposed decision that would approve PG&E’s proposal and reject all proposals to reduce the impacts of the PCIA on CCA customers.Here is the link to the decision.

PLEASE CONSIDER WRITING A LETTER TO THE CPUC OPPOSING PG&E’S PROPOSAL AND THE ALJ’S PROPOSED DECISION.

Click here for more detailed information including draft letters, where to send your letter, and an overview of the PCIA provided by MCE. Your letter must reach the CPUC Commissioners before December 17 when the Commission will vote on the decision or an alternative.
LEAN and the state’s CCAs will continue to work at the CPUC to assure fair cost allocations to CCA customers and policies that assure Californians get the benefit of customer choice and other benefits of CCA programs.

The Future of Behind-the-Meter Solar:
Net Energy Metering 2.0
CCAs care about solar power as a supply resource and as a way to serve their customers’ interests in local clean power and lower utility rates. All three of California’s operating CCAs have made a commitment to developing local solar as a way to support their local economies. One of the ways CCAs promote customer investments is to pay customers for the excess power they produce and deliver into the grid–called “net energy metering” (NEM).

NEM has been a successful incentive for investments in onsite solar projects by customers of CCAs and private utilities. The economics of investments in small solar systems, however, may be changing soon. The CPUC is currently considering changes to utility rates and NEM tariffs in response to AB 327, signed by the Governor in October 2013.

CCAs and CALSEIA (California Solar Energy Industry Association) report in on CCA NEM programs and utility proposals before the CPUC.
Sonoma Clean Power’s NEM Tariffs — Amy Rider, SCP Program Manager, describes SCP’s net metering tariff, called ProFit, which pays solar customers retail for excess power and permits customers to “cash out” their credits rather than rolling over credits to the following year (as PG&E does). SCP has so far paid out more than $200,000 to its customers, mostly to local schools, for the excess solar generation they have produced onsite.

Marin Clean Energy’s NEM Tariffs — Justin Kudo, MCE Customer Accounts Manager, reports that MCE has over 5,000 NEM accounts and customers may cash out their credits at any time. MCE pays the retail rate plus $.01/kwh as an incentive for its customers to produce solar power. Please see MCE’s updated NEM information here.
Utility Proposals to Change Solar NEM Payments and Other Rates 

California utilities have proposed some significant changes to NEM transmission charges that will affect CCA solar customers. As part of an elaborate rulemaking inquiry at the CPUC in response to AB 327PG&E, for example, has proposed changes that could cut into solar customer bill savings by more than 10%.  The most significant of these proposed changes include:
  • A “demand charge” on residential solar customers of $3/kilowatt/month (plus a new $10 minimum bill/month)
  • Reduced payments for power going into the grid from average 16.3 cents/kwh to 9.7 cents/kwh — effectively eliminating credits related to T&D for utility customers as well as CCA customers.
CALSEIA Response to Utility Proposals

CALSEIA’s Director of Policy, Brad Heavner, reports on solar industry concerns regarding proposed changes to net energy metering presented to the CPUC:

  • Utility estimates of bundled customer support for solar customer rates is about 8-9 cents, compared to CALSEIA’s estimate of about 1 cent;
  • For customers who invest in solar projects, utility proposals would increase payback period to as much as 20 years, compared to current payback of about 7 years;
  • The timing of the utility rate changes presents a negative double whammy for solar development– utility proposals are timed to coincide with the phase-out in 2017 of the “investment tax credit,” which will add additional ‘rate shock’ to the market.
  • Utility proposals would disporportionally affect the cost-effectiveness of residential and small commercial customer investments, not those of large commercial or agricultural customers;
  • CALSEIA is proposing gradual increases to proposed NEM 2.0 charges and is considering proposals to extend or increase the current peak period “caps” on net energy metering
The CPUC’s proposed decision is expected in December 2015. We will keep you posted on how this issue unfolds in the coming months!
Regulatory Update from Lancaster Choice Energy
 
Barbara Boswell, LCE’s Program Director, reports that the CPUC staff rejected SCE’s advice letter proposing that CCA CARE customers pay the PCIA. Although SCE’s PCIA is expected to be zero for 2016, this staff decision protects LCE’s low-income customers from increases in subsequent years (at least for the time being). Almost 40% of LCE’s residential customers are low-income CARE customers.

LEAN Energy US
www.LEANenergyus.org / 415-888-8007

PO Box 961 / Mill Valley / CA  94941

Marin Clean Energy

What’s Inside?
  • MCE Travels to Paris to Participate in 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties
  • MCE Commits to 80% Renewable, 95% Carbon-Free by 2025
  • Tips to Reduce Your Energy Bill This Holiday Season
  • Take the Cool California Challenge and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
  • Deep Green Champion of the Month – Tamalpais Community District Services

Local Leadership to Present Story of Marin Clean Energy at COP21 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris
Marin Clean Energy (MCE) is honored to be joining countries and world leaders from around the globe later this month at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris. This year’s annual conference is critical because the expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
 
Official COP21 Video
After the devastating attack
on Paris earlier this month, many events have been cancelled; however, COP21 has decided to move forward proving the importance of creating a binding agreement to protect our global environment.
On behalf of MCE, our
thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the devastating attack in Paris. We hope that the Climate Conference will serve as a shining light for a
brighter future.
COP21 will feature an esteemed delegation representing California’s trailblazing CCA policies-including leadership from the Governor’s office, Marin Clean Energy, LEAN Energy US, and the City of Richmond-organized by Kyoto USA and the Sequoia Foundation.

“Our mission is to address climate change by reducing energy related greenhouse gas emissions and securing energy supply, price stability, energy efficiency and local economic and workforce benefits. We are honored to be joining nations from all over the world to discuss a matter of critical importance to our communities, and to share solutions that can make change.”  MCE CEO, Dawn Weisz

MCE Sets Goal to Reach
80% Renewable, 95% Carbon-Free By 2025
MCE strives to provide electric services to its customers at stable and competitive rates, utilizing the cleanest possible sources of electric energy 
MCE is continuing to push the envelope with its mission to reduce energy related greenhouse gas emissions. By 2025, MCE has set the goal for its Light Green program to be 85% renewable and 95% carbon-free, currently 56% renewable and 60% carbon-free.

In addition to its ambitious renewable and carbon-free goal, MCE is also planning for increases of new, in-state energy generation. MCE set a policy to limit unbundled renewable energy certificates (RECs) to 3% of its energy supply starting 2016.

What’s a REC you ask? Click here to learn what they are and how they are used.

‘Tis the Season to Reduce Your Electricity Bill

Lower Your Carbon Footprint – Win Your City

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The CoolCalifornia Challenge is a statewide competition between 22 communities to see who can lower their carbon footprint the most. The challenge runs from October 1, 2015 – March 31, 2016. Only one community will prevail, but when it comes to reducing our energy and water use, everyone wins!
Proudly, nine of this year’s 22 Challenge communities are MCE members – Benicia, Corte Madera, El Cerrito, Fairfax, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Richmond, San Pablo, and Sausalito!
 
 
We Invite You to Join the Challenge and 
Earn Points Here
This online tool will track your energy usage and record the points you earn.

Meet Tamalpais Community Services District
Deep Green Champion of the Month
The mission of the Tamalpais Community Services District (TCSD) 
is to protect and enhance a healthy community in Tamalpais Valley
TCSD programs are carefully crafted to serve the public and  preserve the environment. Thanks to TCSD, residents in Tam Valley enjoy: free woodchips and compost collection, along with complimentary collection buckets and rolls of BioBags©. Composting participation in Tam Valley is almost double the national average! TCSD also collects e-waste, batteries, CFL light bulbs, and medical waste, making  it easy for households to dispose of waste properly.
“Choosing Deep Green 100% renewable energy aligns perfectly with the mission of the Tamalpais Community Services District to protect and enhance a healthy     community in Tamalpais Valley. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through Deep Green is an easy way for us to be better stewards of the environment.” 
General Manager, Jon Elam

 

Community Choice Aggregation

VIDEO

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) from the film “The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People” January 2015   
>> VIEW

Market-based, Flexible, Local.

Aggre-what? We know—it’s a wonky name for a relatively simple concept called group purchasing: in this case, electricity. In dictionary speak, Community Choice Aggregation1 allows local governments and some special districts to pool (or aggregate) their electricity load in order to purchase and/or develop power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts.2Established by law in six states thus far, CCA is an energy supply model that works in partnership with the region’s existing utility, which continues to deliver power, maintain the grid, provide consolidated billing and other customer services.

how it works_final

Why Do It?

Through CCA, local governments and their constituents are achieving a powerful range of objectives:

  • Competitive, often significantly lower, electricity rates3
  • Transition to a cleaner, more efficient energy supply
  • Consumer choice, consumer protection, and local control4
  • Local jobs creation and economic development
  • Local delivery channel for new and existing energy programs such as feed-in-tariff, net energy metering, energy efficiency retrofits, PACE, distributed rooftop and community-shared solar, and demand response technologies
  • Development of new power projects to augment contracted power

Options, Options

Energy aggregation can be done on an opt-in or opt-out basis (depending on state statute), but the most common and successful programs are opt-out. This means that customers are automatically enrolled after a successful public referendum at the local level, as in Illinois and Ohio; or, enrolled when their local elected representatives (city council or county board) vote to form or join a CCA program, as in California. The opt-in approach is voluntary but participation rates are traditionally very low which reduces the value of group purchasing and makes it harder for local programs to achieve economic viability. Opt-out aggregation achieves the necessary market scale for effective group purchasing, but allows a customer to switch back to utility service at any time.5 Either way, customers always have the choice to stay or go.

Public Power Benefits Without the Infrastructure Price Tag

Non-profit municipal utilities, or munis, provide highly reliable electricity supply at rates averaging 15 to 20 percent below the rates of traditional investor-owned utilities. Like munis, CCAs offer cost efficiencies, flexibility, and local control. But unlike munis, they do not face the capital-intensive and open-ended challenge of valuing, purchasing, and maintaining expensive utility infrastructure. CCA offers a “hybrid” approach that exists between the investor-owned (often monopoly) utility and a municipal (or member coop) utility. CCA reaps the benefits of controlling power supply and generation without the financial drag of purchasing and maintaining sometimes antiquated utility infrastructure. In this way, it is a great option for municipalities who want control over their power supply but don’t want the financial and operational burdens of owning their own utility.

Utility Chart 10_15_13

How Do You Pay for It?

Because CCA is revenue-based—not government subsidized—CCA programs are self-supporting from an existing revenue stream. That is, the electricity rates that consumers pay to a retail electric supplier or an investor-owned utility are bundled and redirected to support the group purchase of electricity through a local CCA program.

So What Happens to the Utility?

In restructured (or “retail”) states, there is a defined functional separation between energy generation and energy distribution. In this scenario, the partner/distribution role of the incumbent utility is well established and retail supply competition already exists. In these states, the utility is a ready and willing partner for aggregated communities. The retail energy suppliers understand the market value of group purchasing and compete at the municipal rather than “door to door” sales level to win supply contracts.

In partially restructured or un-restructured states (“wholesale” markets) where utilities hold monopoly positions, the reaction to CCA has been less than supportive. After all, a CCA disrupts their monopoly control of the power supply market. It’s important to note, however, that bundled utility customers are not adversely impacted and the utilities themselves are “made whole” on departing load through a mechanism called cost recovery surcharges (or exit fees). In both models (retail and wholesale), the utility retains ownership and management of the transmission and distribution infrastructure, and all power delivery, line repair, billing, and customer service functions remain with the existing utility.

  1. Also called municipal aggregation and government energy aggregation in the midwest and northeast, respectively
  2. CCA is statutorily enabled in CA, IL, OH, MA, NJ and RI with a handful of other states considering legislation; CCAs in CA and IL are permitted to develop power projects as well as contract for power. Some states (e.g. OH) also allow for gas aggregation.
  3. Current aggregation contracts in the midwest are yielding up to 25% rate savings with rate savings on the east coast averaging between 10%–14% (as of 9/2013)
  4. Especially relevant in non-restructured states such as California
  5. National average opt-out rates range from 3-5%