PG&E Imposes Customer Fees for Choosing Cleaner Electricity Service and Calls for Increase, Despite Having $1 Billion to Cover Fees

PG&E argues that Community Choice customers need to pay their “fair share”


San Rafael, CA – PG&E recently proposed that Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and Sonoma Clean Power customers should pay even more “exit” fees than they already do to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) every month. The proposed increase ranges from 44% to 127% depending upon customer class, and forces residential customers, including low-income, to pay the highest rates associated with these fees.


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) currently authorizes PG&E to impose exit fees on customers who choose to buy their electric generation from local providers like MCE or Sonoma Clean Power. Although these fees are always included in cost comparisons, they reduce the savings that MCE and Sonoma Clean Power customers receive and increase the cost of choosing a local provider.


PG&E’s exit fee, called the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), is billed monthly, based on usage, and charged to customers who choose to buy energy from another provider. When a customer makes this choice, PG&E sells the excess electricity that they bought for that customer. Depending on the market conditions, PG&E may earn or lose money when they sell the power. PG&E has accumulated more than $1 billion from earning money on the market when selling this excess power. However, if PG&E doesn’t earn money through the sale of the excess power, the PCIA fee is applied. This covers any losses incurred by PG&E, forcing the customer to bear this burden and pay for energy that they will never use.


Along with their request to increase the exit fees, PG&E also requested to close the account with over $1 billion. When asked how the money would be used, PG&E indicated that it “simply goes away.”


“What PG&E is proposing is outrageous. They’ve collected $1 billion from selling excess power on the market but when they aren’t able to make a profit, they collect from our customers to avoid pulling funds from their billion dollar stockpile,” said Dawn Weisz, CEO of Marin Clean Energy. “Those profits should be applied against any losses, so that the homes, schools, non-profits and businesses in our communities are not burdened further.”


This year, MCE estimates that its customers will be forced to pay PG&E $19.3 million in PCIA fees. Should the CPUC approve PG&E’s proposed increase, MCE customers are projected to pay $30.6 million to PG&E, in 2016 alone, and residential customers, including low or fixed-income customers, will be forced to pay more than half of it ($16.3 million). PG&E is the only California utility to impose these fees on low-income customers.


MCE is protesting the proposed surge in the PCIA fee and calling attention to PG&E’s attempt to close the $1 billion account of ratepayer funds. The CPUC is scheduled to make its determination on the PCIA increase in December 2015.


Jamie Tuckey

MCE Director of Public Affairs

415.464.6024 |


Legislation to Level the Playing Field for Renewable Energy Reintroduced in Congress


On June 24th, the Master Limited Partnership (MLP) Parity Act was reintroduced in both the House and Senate.  U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX-02) and Mike Thompson (D-CA-05) put forth this bipartisan legislation to level the playing field by giving investors in renewable energy projects access to a decades-old corporate structure whose tax advantage is currently available only to investors in fossil fuel-based energy projects.

This bill would provide an important modification to the federal tax code that would release private capital by helping additional energy-generation and renewable fuel companies form master limited partnerships, which combine the funding advantages of corporations and the tax advantages of partnerships.  Solar energy companies would be among the biggest beneficiaries of this extension.

“Renewable energy technologies have made tremendous progress in the last several decades, and they deserve the same shot at success in the market as traditional energy projects,” Senator Coons said. “By updating the tax code, the bipartisan Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act levels the playing field for all domestic energy sources — renewable and non-renewable – to support the all-of-the-above energy strategy we need to power our country for generations to come. This practical, market-driven solution will unleash private capital and create jobs, and that’s why it has earned broad support from Republicans and Democrats in Congress as well as academics, outside experts, business leaders and investors.”

Private capital is the strongest way to grow solar energy production in the U.S. and such renewable energies should certainly enjoy the same legislative incentives that exist for oil and gas ventures.  When taxed at the individual investor level, a solar business with the MLP structure would have more financial flexibility and a lower cost of capital.  Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America and this proposal would go a long way to support this clean, affordable source of energy.

The Congressional calendar remains uncertain entering the fall; however, the MLP Parity Act has broad support from the business community as well as the legislature.  The bill was previously introduced in 2013 and hopes have been high since that time that the language may find its way into a comprehensive tax reform effort often cited as a priority of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees.  While comprehensive reform appears stalled for the foreseeable future, smaller energy-focused tax packages (including solar investment tax credit extension) are currently being discussed.

SEMI maintains an advocacy team in Washington, D.C., focused on building support for solar/PV legislation such as the MLP Parity Act.  As these initiatives move forward, SEMI will remain a vocal supporter of a level playing field for U.S. solar companies.

September 23, 2015

Where The World’s First Entirely Solar-Powered Airport Has Been Unveiled

Over the next 25 years, the new power system is expected to save 300,000 tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of planting three million trees

Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala becamethe world’s first entirely solar-powered airport on Tuesday, unveiling a new system that will make the airport “absolutely power neutral,” according to a statement released by the parent company.

The airport’s solar power plant, which is comprised of more than 46,000 solar panels arrayed across 45 acres of land, will produce 48,000 units of energy per day, the Economic Times reports.



Analysis: Pacific states get leeway in CO2 rule

Portland, 4 August (Argus) — California, Oregon and Washington could face a relatively easy path to compliance with new federal rules for CO2 emissions from the power sector.

The three states could end up over-complying with their targets under the federal Clean Power Plan, potentially giving their leaders leverage in trying to convince inland neighbors to create a regional compliance plan for the regulations.

All three Pacific coast governors praised the final rule issued yesterday and said they would quickly begin work on figuring out how to comply. If the three joined a common trading program and kept their emissions in line with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) projections for 2020, they would run a surplus of about 67mn short tons of CO2 by 2030, based on the tonnage targets the agency assigned each state. EPA also assigned CO2 rate targets for states to meet from 2022-2030, allowing the states to choose between the two.

That stands in stark contrast to the inland portions of the 11-state western grid. The other eight states plus tribal areas would need to cut a cumulative 336.1mn st of CO2 from 2022-30. If the states banded together for a regional compliance plan, the surpluses run by the coastal states could help ease the shortfalls in the other states.

The western US electric grid is characterized by inland power plants serving electric demand in the coastal states. Some of the highest-emitting units along the Rocky Mountains are partially owned or have power purchase agreements with electric utilities in California, Oregon and Washington.

California’s economy-wide cap-and-trade program will complicate efforts to create a regional or national market under the Clean Power Plan. The state would likely have to separate its power sector from the current cap-and-trade program. The state is committed to its economy-wide program and has been working to find more trading partners after linking with Quebec.

The state will need to cut power sector emissions by about 35mn st from 2022-2030 under the Clean Power Plan, but should be well-positioned to comply because of its existing trading program and a host of related policies. The state legislature is poised to approve raising the state’s renewable energy mandate to 50pc by 2030 and set more aggressive energy efficiency targets. Those policies would allow the state to exceed its federal obligations.

Oregon and Washington benefited from significant changes to how EPA calculated their 2012 baselines, leading to significantly higher 2030 targets than in the proposed rule. The targets are also higher than the states’ projected emissions for 2020. But direct comparisons between the proposed and final targets are difficult because of changes in EPA’s methodology.

EPA adjusted Washington state’s baseline for coal and gas generation and emissions by 207pc to account for 2012 being an unusually wet year, with a warm winter that led to significantly lower demand for fossil fuel-fired generation. EPA raised Oregon’s baseline by 118pc. The states have some of the cleanest power sectors in the US because of an abundance of hydropower. Idaho and Montana received similar adjustments as well.


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Republicans resume efforts to stop CO2 rules

Washington, 4 August (Argus) — Congressional Republicans are vowing to block new CO2 regulations for power plants, but their efforts face long odds given the high vote tally needed to overcome a presidential veto.

As the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Clean Power Plan yesterday, Republican leaders were promising to resume their efforts to prevent the regulations from ever taking effect, or at least to delay them for several years.

The US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee tomorrow will take up legislation to extend the Clean Power Plan’s compliance deadlines until after the courts have a chance to review the program. The bill by senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) would also give governors the authority to opt-out of the Clean Power Plan if they determine that complying would harm their state’s ratepayers or over grid reliability concerns alone. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in May.

“Now that this rule is finalized, the need for congressional action is even more apparent,” Capito said.

But these efforts face high hurdles. The Republican-controlled House can easily pass any legislation with little or no Democratic support. But Republicans, who hold 54 seats in the Senate, would need to win significant backing from across the aisle to clear the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster or the 67 votes to override a certain veto from President Barack Obama. At least three Democrats, senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, have expressed varying degrees of opposition to the regulations over the past year. Manchin is the lone Democratic co-sponsor of the Capito bill.

If enacted, either bill could push back compliance by three or more years as the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over challenges to EPA regulations, and then possibly the US Supreme Court, review the regulations. More than a dozen states have already said they intend to file suits in the DC Circuit. Those suits would likely be filed once the Clean Power Plan is published in the Federal Register.

The plan requires states to meet CO2 emissions targets by 2030, with reductions to start in 2022. States must submit final compliance plans to EPA by September 2018, with initial plans due in September 2016.

The Capito legislation is just one option available to congressional opponents of the regulations. Republicans have also included restrictions in fiscal year 2016 spending bills that have yet to clear Congress. And the formal publication of the rules will give Republicans another legislative tool, a little-used law called the Congressional Review Act. It essentially allows Congress to veto new executive branch regulations.

But it has been successfully employed only once, despite more than 40 previous attempts under the act to block various regulations since 1996, according to the Government Accountability Office. One of those failed efforts occurred in 2010, when the Senate defeated a resolution to overturn EPA’s first steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.


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The Clean Power Plan – how US can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without losing money

Later today at the White House, President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will officially release the final Clean Power Plan, carbon pollution guidance for the nation that is also a historic step in efforts to meet and constrain climate change. Briefly stated, it shows how the US can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without losing money.

Power plant and visible emissions (

Today’s release constitutes the final Clean Power Plan, which has been in the works for years. The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit atmospheric carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. It follows on from other successful public health measures by reducing soot and other toxic emissions, aiming to reap continuing and increased benefits from the landmark bipartisan Clean Air Act the United States enacted over 45 years ago.

EPA received 4 million comments that public and private individuals and corporations submitted in response to the draft. The final plan reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. In line with recent findings that point to faster and more destructive climate events than those estimated before, the final plan constitutes a full 9% more reductions than the proposal.

States, cities, companies, and individuals have already begun to move to cleaner sources of energy. So far, these state efforts have given the CPP a good head start:

  • All 50 states have demand-side energy efficiency programs.
  • 37 states have renewable portfolio standards or goals.
  • 10 states have already implemented market-based greenhouse gas reduction programs.
  • Half the nation (25 states) has energy efficiency standards or goals in place.

More details about state actions under the final Clean Power Plan:

  • CPP lets states choose how to meet carbon standards.
  • CPP provides states more time and stronger incentives to deploy clean energy immediately
  • CPP sets state targets fairly and in a way that directly includes input from states, utilities, business, other stakeholders, and the public.

In addition, the plan has gained strength from the facts that solar electricity generation has increased more than 20-fold in the past seven years, and electricity from wind has more than tripled.

The White House characterizes today’s final plan as “a fair, flexible program that will strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy.” It ensures long-term clean energy investment, continued reliability of electric infrastructure, affordable and clean energy for all Americans, and climate action that places the United States among important world leaders.

It does not stop at merely stating principles. The measure also includes a proposed federal implementation plan. From the White House news release:

“We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires in the West to record heat waves – and sea level rise are hitting communities across the country…. The most vulnerable among us–including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease, and people living in poverty – are most at risk from the impacts of climate change. Taking action now is critical.”

Stay with CleanTechnica for more about the Clean Power Plan, including exclusive in-depth interviews, technical detail, analysis, and further developments over the next days and weeks to come.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.













Roy Phillips is owner of REP Energy of San Rafael, which is building a 1.5-megawatt solar project at the abandoned Cooley Quarry near Novato. The project is among several local energy projects benefiting from long-term energy purchase agreements with Marin Clean Energy. Frankie Frost — Marin Independent Journal

Workers for Synapse Electric of Mill Valley install solar panels at the San Rafael Airport in 2012 for Marin Clean Energy, which has contracted to purchase electricity produced by the 1-megawatt project for 20 years. Robert tong — Marin Independent Journal

Marin clean energy: What is it?

Marin Clean Energy was created five years ago with the objective of making it possible for every person in the county who pays an electric bill to also help in the monumental battle against global climate change.

It was the first successful attempt in California to launch a public model for providing electricity to residents.

The joint power authority’s birth was made possible by a “community choice aggregation” law passed in 2002, which allows local governments to aggregate (or cluster) electricity demand within their jurisdictions to buy and sell renewable energy while maintaining the existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services.

When Marin Clean Energy flipped the switch in May 2010, it had 6,000 customers. Today, it has some 170,000 customers and its membership spans all of Marin County, unincorporated Napa County and the cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, Richmond and San Pablo.

Marin Clean Energy’s standard Light Green energy was 56 percent renewable in 2014 compared with Pacific Gas and Electric’s electricity, which was 27 percent renewable.

Marin Clean Energy customers paid slightly less than PG&E’s. The average monthly bill for a typical residential customer using about 473 kilowatt-hours was $99.45 for Light Green customers and $100.92 for PG&E customers. The Marin agency’s Deep Green residential customers, who get 100 percent renewable electricity, paid an average of $104.18 per month in 2014.

Half of the premium that Deep Green customers pay goes into Marin Clean Energy’s fund for developing local energy projects.

The agency’s operating budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year is $145.9 million and it has 30 employees.

— Richard Halstead

A union representing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. workers and a San Francisco consumer group are taking aim at the common use of energy credits by groups including Marin Clean Energy.

They’re pushing an initiative in San Francisco and new state legislation designed to curb such practices.

Their contention: Marin Clean Energy and other purchasers of those credits, such as the city of Palo Alto, Cisco Systems Inc. and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, are using paper certificates to “greenwash” their energy.

What’s a rec?

A renewable energy certificate (REC) is a tradable environmental commodity used in North America to represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour of electricity was generated by an eligible renewable energy resource such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric and tidal power.

During the 1990s, states began requiring that utilities acquire a specific percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. To facilitate the sale of renewable electricity nationally, a system was developed that separates renewable electricity generation into two parts: the electrical energy produced by the renewable generator and the renewable “attributes” of that generation.

The electricity associated with a REC may be sold separately and used by another party or it may remain bundled with the REC. If the energy is sold separately it is no longer considered renewable and cannot be used by utilities to meet their state-mandated goals for renewable energy use. The unbundled REC now carries all of the renewable attributes and can be sold separately.

For example, electricity generated at the Mountain Air Projects in Idaho, 60 wind turbines with a capacity of 138 megawatts, is sold to Idaho Power, the investor-owned state utility. Idaho does not require Idaho Power to buy any minimum amount of renewable energy, so the utility has no incentive to pay the extra cost associated with renewable energy. Idaho Power pays about the same price for the electricity as it would for power generated using natural gas. The owners of the project sell the unbundled RECs to Marin Clean Energy and other entities, who then take possession of the “renewable attributes” associated with the power.

— Richard Halstead

At issue is something known as an “unbundled, renewable energy certificate” — a credit that, when purchased, allows the buyer to legally claim ownership of 1 megawatt hour of renewable electricity. It has been “unbundled” from the actual renewable electricity that was generated.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1245, which represents PG&E’s electrical workers, is collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would bar San Francisco from promoting its electricity as clean or green if it uses unbundled RECs.

“RECs have been dismissed by many experts as an accounting gimmick that do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or create more clean power,” said Hunter Stern, a spokesman for Local 1245. “We introduced this measure to require that San Francisco disclose the sources of the power they sell, so they cannot sell brown power as green.”

But Dawn Weisz, Marin Clean Energy’s executive officer, said Local 1245’s ballot initiative is attempting to rewrite the definition of renewable energy so that no out-of-state supply would qualify as renewable. Most unbundled RECs come from projects outside California.

“The IBEW wishes to promote California sources of renewable energy because it wishes to promote jobs for its members,” Weisz said. “While this is valuable, it should be presented in a clear way, not by relying on confusing information about RECs, and should be considered together with the other goals of a power portfolio.”

A second offensive is being mounted against the use of unbundled RECs in the state Legislature.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has introduced AB 1110, which would prohibit an adjustment in the calculation of emissions of greenhouse gases through the application of unbundled RECs. The legislation was sponsored by The Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy organization based in San Francisco.

“What we’re looking for here is an apples-to-apples comparison and full disclosure by all about exactly what the product is they’re selling to customers,” said Mindy Spatt, a TURN spokeswoman. “Customers want to know whether it is actual clean energy or RECs.”


But James Critchfield, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, said unbundled RECs are an important part of the national system that developed after many states began requiring utilities to get a certain percentage of their electrical power from renewable sources: solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact small hydroelectric resources.

“The EPA, the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Association of Attorneys General have all recognized the REC as the instrument through which renewable energy usage claims are substantiated,” Critchfield said. “It’s a market-based approach that is valuable to growing the market.”

Local 1245 began raising the issue of Marin Clean Energy’s use of unbundled, renewable energy certificates about a year ago. It was the Oakland-based Local Clean Energy Alliance, however, that first questioned their efficacy with a report it issued in October 2013.


Al Weinrub, co-author of the report, “What the Heck is a REC,” and coordinator of the alliance, said the concern at the time was a PG&E proposal for using RECs.

“PG&E said they were going to offer a 100 percent green option. It turned out the way they were going to do that was to buy the cheapest unbundled RECs they could find on the market,” Weinrub said.

He said PG&E dropped the plan after meeting opposition.

In the paper, Weinrub and co-author Dan Pinkel wrote that the short-term purchase of unbundled RECs “while generally making renewable generation more profitable, makes only a questionable contribution to increasing renewable energy generating capacity.”

The paper went on to say that “unless the purchase transaction actually enables the development of new renewable generation that would not otherwise have occurred, there is scant legitimacy to the claim of displacing fossil fuels or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Weinrub said the two major problems with unbundled RECs is that they are underpriced and typically not purchased under long-term contracts.

Weisz said Marin Clean Energy pays $1 to $2 for its unbundled RECs, about a tenth of what it pays for RECs that come bundled with their original electricity.

According to a 2011 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, long-term contracts for RECs need to be encouraged because they “can offer the security and certainty that many projects need to obtain financing.” Most of Marin Clean Energy’s unbundled REC contracts are for a single year, although some are for two or three years.


Beginning in 2012, unbundled RECs have accounted for nearly a third of Marin Clean Energy’s total electricity purchases. In calendar year 2012 unbundled RECs made up more than 35 percent of the agency’s power purchases; in 2013 the number dropped to 31 percent, and in 2014 it inched down to 30 percent. Weisz said that this year the number will be cut in half to 15 percent as more California generation projects come online.

Local 1245 asserts that Marin Clean Energy uses unbundled RECs to make it seem that its electricity is cleaner than it really is.

Marin Clean Energy computes the greenhouse gas emission rate of the electricity it sells per megawatt hour by dividing its estimated emissions by the total amount of electricity it buys and sells. Using this method, Marin Clean Energy calculated its 2013 emissions rate as 364 pounds per megawatt hour, 17 percent lower than PG&E’s reported 2013 emission factor of 427 pounds per megawatt hour.

Local 1245 says that procedure is unfair because 345,000 megawatt hours of Marin Clean Energy’s 1.1 million megawatt total in 2013 came through the purchase of unbundled RECs.

Brittany McKannay, a spokeswoman for PG&E, said unbundled RECs accounted for 0.13 percent of PG&E’s total electricity purchases in 2013, which amounts to about 106,000 megawatt hours. In 2013, more than half of PG&E’s electricity came from sources that emit no greenhouse gases; but 32 percent of them — nuclear, 22 percent and large hydroelectric, 10 percent — don’t qualify as being renewable.

Weisz said using unbundled RECs to calculate Marin Clean Energy’s emission factor “conforms to every regulation and voluntary reporting paradigm that exists.”

“We are buying those volumes,” Weisz said, “so they are part of our mix.”


The Climate Registry, a nonprofit registry of greenhouse gas emissions for North America that certifies PG&E’s emission factor, sanctions the use of unbundled RECs in calculating emission factors.

Peggy Kelley, director of policy at The Climate Registry, said, “Our position is that RECs represent the environmental attributes of green power whether they are bundled or unbundled. It’s as valid a claim to the greenhouse gas totals as anything else.”

Weinrub and Pinkel concluded their paper with a caveat. They said that because nascent community choice programs — such as Marin Clean Energy — must compete for survival against investor-owned utilities, procurement of unbundled RECs may be justified if it makes it possible for the community choice program to invest in the development of new local renewable energy resources.

Marin Clean Energy has committed nearly $516 million to 195 megawatts of new California renewable energy projects. Those include a 10.5-megawatt solar project in Richmond, a 4-megawatt landfill waste-to-energy project in Novato, a 1.5-megawatt solar project in Novato’s Cooley Quarry, a 1-megawatt solar project at San Rafael Airport and a 1-megawatt project at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato.

Weisz said Marin Clean Energy had no idea how many customers would stick with its program in the early years, and the unbundled, short-term RECs gave it the flexibility it needed.


Sonoma Clean Power, a community choice aggregator like Marin Clean Energy that began serving about 6,000 residential customers in the North Bay last year, has ceased its purchase of unbundled RECs.

“Back in 2013, before we started serving customers, we did make some purchases of unbundled RECs, thinking we would use them more than we did,” said Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power. “We haven’t sold any of those, but we haven’t bought any more.

“Our decision was made based on a concern that RECs might be double-counted in their value, but we have subsequently been unable to find any evidence that has occurred in California,” Syphers said.

Marin Clean Energy’s REC purchases are certified by Green-e, a program of the Center for Resource Solutions in San Francisco, which ensures that unbundled RECs aren’t double-counted.

“California has robust systems in place to prevent double-counting from happening,” said Jennifer Martin, the Center for Resource Solutions’ executive director. “For years now, California has been using RECs as the sole basis to demonstrate ownership of renewable energy attributes. It’s enforced by regulation and the California Public Utilities Commission.”


Kelly Foley, who has worked as legal counsel to both PG&E and Sonoma Clean Power and now serves as director of regulatory affairs at California Clean Power, said community choice programs should avoid using unbundled RECs in their marketing.

“You can’t say your paper certificates are sucking carbon out of the air, because they’re not,” Foley said.

California Clean Power, a Santa Rosa-based startup that is substituting a for-profit business model for the nonprofit, public power approach pioneered by Marin Clean Energy, is an active supporter of Assemblyman Ting’s AB 1110.

Foley said that often unbundled RECs come from renewable energy projects that were created long ago or that required no special financial incentive to get built. She said the sale of the unbundled RECs from such projects is just gravy for builders.

A report on the role of RECs in developing new renewable energy projects written in June 2011 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory stated, “there are situations in which REC revenues are essential to project economics, as well as some where REC revenues may have little impact.”


The report added that the importance of RECs often depends on one’s perspective.

“Project developers and owners welcome all revenue, large or small, because they wish to maximize profit, and they may not know for sure how profitable the project will be until its useful life is at an end,” the report stated.

“Certainly from our perspective as a renewable energy project developer, we’re counting on those revenues from REC sales going forward,” said Bill Eddie, president of One Energy Inc., which also buys and sells RECs.

One Energy has assisted Marin Clean Energy with some of its REC purchases. Eddie said prices for unbundled RECs fluctuate with demand.

“I’ve seen prices for unbundled RECs in California go as high as $20, although not for long,” Eddie said.

Changes Ahead for Net Energy Metering

CPUC working to develop successor tariff
Net Energy Metering

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is currently working on a proceeding to develop a successor tariff for net energy metering (NEM), which allows utility customers with solar PV systems or other distributed generation technologies to receive credit for the excess energy that they supply to the grid.

Assembly Bill (AB) 327 requires California’s three investor-owned utilities to offer NEM until either July 1, 2017, or the date at which the utility reaches a 5% NEM program cap, whichever is earliest. The cap represents 5% of total peak customer demand within the utility service territory.

This is the progress of each utility toward reaching the 5% NEM cap as of May 2015. Information on progress toward the cap is reported to the CPUC monthly and can be found on each utility’s website.

Pacific Gas and Electric – 3.12% (learn more)
Southern California Edison – 2.58% (learn more)
San Diego Gas & Electric – 3.37% (learn more)

Customers who install a solar generating facility before the utility reaches its NEM cap or July 1, 2017, will be grandfathered into the current NEM tariff for a period of 20 years from their interconnection date. As indicated, SDG&E is closest to reaching the 5% cap but is not expected to do so until mid-2016. Customers should keep this in mind when considering whether to install solar PV this year. However, future changes to NEM should not be used to justify high-pressure sales situations.

AB 327 also directs the CPUC to develop a NEM successor tariff for eligible customer generators no later than December 31, 2015. The CPUC is currently reviewing proposals from industry and utility stakeholders. To find more information about the status of this proceeding and to join the conversation, visit AB 327: NEM Successor Tariff Workshops or contact Shannon O’Rourke at Shannon.O’ or (415) 703-5574.


Solar-Powered Plane Lands In Hawaii After Flying A Record-Breaking 8,000km In Five Days Without Fuel

After flying over 5,000 miles purely on solar power, Solar Impulse landed in Honolulu. The Round the World flight mission, led by co-founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, is the first of its kind.

The nonstop trip across the Pacific Ocean—never before attempted by a zero fuel airplane—began in Nagoya, Japan and lasted 5 days and 5 nights.

A ground crew member (R) is walks near the solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 at a mobile hanger at Nagoya airport in Nagoya on June 3, 2015. The record-breaking Solar Impulse 2 landed safely in Nagoya, Japan late on June 1 on an unscheduled stop caused by bad weather over the Pacific. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

Solar Impulse is equipped with 17,000 solar cells that absorb energy during daytime to supply power to a 2,077-pound lithium battery used during the night. The flight will mark Solar Impulse’s eighth completed leg of the 13-leg journey, putting the plane on track to circumnavigate the globe this summer—another feat no solar powered plane has successfully completed.

“We want to show that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the unthinkable,” said Bertrand Piccard, pilot and chairman of the program. “We want youth, leaders, organizations and policymakers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish on the ground in their everyday lives. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives, and together, we can help save our planet’s natural resources.”

“The drive behind the Solar Impulse mission is to demonstrate how innovation and a pioneering spirit can change the world,” said Silvio Napoli, CEO of Schindler. “That is why Schindler is a main partner in the Solar Impulse project. We share this spirit of vision and innovation for the future. As a leading global manufacturer of elevators, escalators and moving walks, Schindler is pushing the boundaries of how people view mobility in the cities of tomorrow.”

“We are so incredibly proud to be a part of this historic mission,” said Greg Ergenbright, president, Schindler Elevator Corporation USA. “This partnership is the perfect embodiment of Schindler’s ongoing investment in innovative technology for sustainable mobility. Bertrand, André and the entire Solar Impulse team continue to inspire us in our relentless pursuit of trailblazing technology that safely moves more people with less energy.”

$300B wasted on natural gas projects

By Jaclyn Brandt

Carbon and natural gas could soon be at odds, according to a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The report found that by 2025, there will be $283 billion of surplus liquefied natural gas (LNG), based on projects currently underway.

Map of LNG production needed and not needed 2015-2035. Credit:

The report found that gas can continue to grow, but not at the rate the gas industry believes — due to numerous factors, including carbon-emission rules.

“We certainly don’t see any prospect of a ‘golden age of gas’, as the International Energy Agency suggested a few years ago,” said Anthony Hobley, CEO of Carbon Tracker, in a statement.

The UN target limits global warming to a 2?C target, and the report said that in order for this to happen, the energy industry needs to be more selective in gas projects.

“Gas is a complex fossil fuel,” Hobley added. “The gas industry argues that coal is the enemy and gas is part of the solution. Obviously there is a push to position it as a bridge to a low-carbon future and there is some basis for that, particularly in North America and Europe. There is some room for growth, but nowhere near as much as the gas industry would have us believe. Certainly in the LNG sector, most of the capacity that will be needed for the next 10 years has already been built.”

Natural gas is considered carbon-emitting because production results in leaked methane. Hobley explained, “Gas can be efficient, but more needs to be done, particularly on fugitive emissions. We have a very hazy understanding of these fugitive emissions in regions such as China and Russia. This is an area where the industry clearly has to work harder if gas is to be perceived as a cleaner fuel.”

However, Jake Rubin, director of public relations with the American Gas Association, told Fierce Energy that “Natural gas is clean, domestic, abundant, efficient and affordable, making it the perfect foundation fuel to help strengthen America’s economic recovery, meet our environmental challenges and improve our overall national security by reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources.”

Rubin explained that the abundance of natural gas in the United States has created a landscape that can help “address many of the challenges facing our economy and environment,” but that the regulatory environment has not yet caught up to the abundance of natural gas.

“It is critical that business models, fuel choices, regulation and energy policy be re-evaluated in light of the new opportunities presented,” Rubin told FierceEnergy. “Natural gas utilities, through their roles in communities across the nation, are already bringing the benefits of natural gas to homes and business. We are fueling the future where wise and efficient growth of natural gas consumption will help address many of our energy challenges.”

The report found that certain aspects of LNG infrastructure, including the production of US shale gas or Australian coal-bed methane, emit high levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) — and only 17 percent of LNG produced by North American Shale gas or Australian coal-bed methane is needed.

Of the planned projects that will cause a surplus, the report found $82 billion in Canada, $71 billion in the United States, and $68 billion in Australia — all in the next 10 years — due to carbon regulations.

“Many parts of the world do not have the infrastructure needed to take advantage of gas,” Hobley said, “and we are getting to the stage where renewables are becoming more viable. If we can scale renewable energy to the level needed, then there will be a jump straight from coal to renewables. If there is a breakthrough on energy storage, it will be a game-changer.”

The study also looked at the 20 largest LNG companies in the world, and found that 16 of them are looking at major future projects that are unneeded. Three — by Eni, Cheniere, and Noble — are working on projects that are needed to meet demand by 2025. Only one company, Total, is not planning on developing any new LNG projects by 2025.

“Investors should scrutinize the true potential for growth of LNG businesses over the next decade,” said James Leaton, Carbon Tracker’s head of research, in a statement. “The current oversupply of LNG means there is already a pipeline of projects waiting to come on stream. It is not clear whether these will be needed and generate value for shareholders.”

For more:
– view the report