EBCE Launches With Half a Million Customers

EBCE set a record when it started serving 500,000 residential customers in Alameda county in November, making it — at least temporarily — the largest community choice aggregator (CCA) in California. (Clean Power Alliance in Southern California will take that mantle in early 2019 when they launch.)

The switchover itself set a record — the largest single switch of customers from an investor-owned utility to a CCA. The handoff went smoothly and residential customers begin receiving charges from EBCE this month. This is in addition to the 50,000 non-residential accounts that EBCE has served since June 2018.

But we are still spreading the word about EBCE’s cleaner and greener power, making sure our new customers are aware of the change. One way we are doing that is through town hall events we hosted in Livermore, San Lorenzo, Hayward, and Fremont.

But we are planning more, including a Spanish language event with the Unity Council and a Chinese language event in Oakland’s Chinatown. To learn the exact dates and locations when they are announced, sign up for our email list.

To celebrate our kickoff, we hosted a launch party on December 3 at Impact Hub Oakland. Notable guests included our board members Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Oakland City Council Member Dan Kalb, Emeryville City Council Member Dianne Martinez, and our board chair and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty. (See his Faces of EBCE profile to learn more about Scott.)

The gathering heard short speeches from the chair and vice chair of our Community Advisory Committee, Anne Olivia Eldred, from the California Nurses Association, and Megan O’Neil, with the Local Clean Energy Alliance.

California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild also came. “Our mission at the CEC is to make California’s energy system clean, reliable and affordable,” he told the group. “We look forward to working with EBCE as a partner in achieving that goal.”

Myth of the Month: CCAs don’t sign long-term RE contracts

In this new feature, we explore myths around community choice aggregation. If you have a suggestion for myth of the month, send it to info@ebce.org.

As community choice aggregation (CCA) ramps up around the state, a myth has taken hold that CCAs are not signing contracts for new energy supply. But new data released shows that CCAs have been busy contracting for over 2000 MW of new renewable energy, with more to come.

“These programs produce very little new renewable energy, instead buying from existing sources, including out-of-state wind and solar farms,” wrote Jerry Sanders, former mayor of San Diego and head of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

So what is really going on? As customers departed in droves for CCAs throughout 2017 and 2018, investor-owned utilities have been left with an excess of the renewable energy they need to comply with the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS). As a result, IOUs did not conduct annual RPS solicitations in 2016 or 2017, nor did they plan to undertake solicitations in 2018, according to the CPUC’s RPS annual report, released in November.

The report says that the nine CCAs in service in 2017 had an average RPS position of 49%, also well ahead of RPS schedules. But load served by CCAs is rapidly increasing, with ten new CCAs starting up in 2018. “As the RPS requirements increase and more CCAs fully come online,” the CPUC report says, “there will be a near-term renewable procurement need.”

In total, the CPUC says CCAs will need to procure “approximately 6,900 GWh beginning in 2020,” plus more to meet the 60% RPS target by 2030.

And CCAs are busy doing exactly that.

Two Gigawatts, So Far

The California Association of Community Choice Aggregators (CalCCA) recently released data showing that six CCAs have so far signed long-term contracts for over 2000 MW of new renewables. Of the 56 contracts they tallied, 38 are for 20 years or longer. Only three are less than 10 years.

CCAs passed the two gigawatt milestone in October when Monterey Bay Community Power and Silicon Valley Clean Energy jointly approved contracts for 278 MW of solar, coupled with 340 megawatt hours (MWh) of battery storage for two separate projects to be built in Kern and Kings Counties. That is the largest solar + storage procurement to date in California. That same month, Peninsula Clean Energy broke ground on a 200 MW solar project supported with a 25 year contract.

Altogether, CCAs signed up for about 1000 MW of new renewables under long-term contracts in 2017. And more contracts are on the way. So far, every CCA in California plans to procure more renewables than is required under the RPS, and sooner. Most are being driven by their member communities. Ten communities in the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), for example, recently voted to go 100 percent renewable as soon as CPA starts operations next year.

CCAs that are just getting started (like EBCE) are proving ready to solicit long-term contracts right out of the gate. In June of this year, even before its residential launch, EBCE issued a solicitation for multi-hundreds of megawatts of California-based renewable energy from new projects, with at least 20 MW from local projects.

Contracts big and small

The contracts signed to date support 1360 MW of new solar, 741 MW of new wind, and 12 MW of new biogas. Interestingly, all but one of the projects are in California, belying the related myth that CCAs are supporting “out of state” power suppliers. (See map below.)


Timeline of operation dates for CCA-supported new renewables

MCE Clean Energy, the oldest CCA, has signed the most contracts, at just over 900 MW. MCE’s diverse portfolio includes 36 contracts ranging from 3 to 25 years in length, and from 60 kilowatts to 160 MW. Over 400 MW of their new renewables capacity came online this year. MCE got a favorable review and rating from Moody’s Investors Service in May, the first CCA to to be rated.


Signed contracts for wind, solar, and biogas

Monterey Bay Community Power and Silicon Valley Clean Energy have teamed up on their procurement efforts, signing contracts for three big wind and solar projects — coupled with batteries — that will come online in 2021. The average length for those contracts is 16 years. Monterey Bay is in its first year of operations, serving residential customers on July 1, 2018, while Silicon Valley went live in April 2017.

One of the smallest CCAs, Lancaster Clean Energy, has set “a lofty goal of becoming the nation’s first net-zero city.” Lancaster, a desert town of 160,000, was the first city in America to require all new homes to have solar, and has converted all city buses to electric. Lancaster Clean Energy took a step toward that goal by signing a 20-year contract for a 10 MW solar farm just outside of town, enough to power 1800 homes.


Most contracts are 15 years or longer

While 2000 megawatts is an impressive start, more needs to be — and will be — procured. Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 100 into law in September, committing the entire state to at least 60 percent renewable and 100 percent zero-carbon power by 2045. Community choice aggregators will be on the front lines of achieving that goal as quickly, as reliably, and as affordably as possible.

Faces of EBCE: Scott Haggerty

Scott HaggertyAbout ten years ago, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty was sitting at a board meeting for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District when he first heard the concept of community choice aggregation. Marin Clean Energy was getting ready to launch, helped along by a planning grant from BAAQMD.

“The thought of sustainable energy at a reduced price was attractive to me,” he says now. “So I talked to my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors about their interest in setting up a CCA, and they were willing to go along with it. They were all very excited about seeing something like this happen.”

Alameda County served as the “angel investor” for EBCE, funding the planning necessary to get it off the ground. County staffers Bruce Jensen and Chris Bazar did most of the leg work. This helped get the buy in of potential member cities. “They saw how great a CCA could be and it wasn’t going to cost them to be at the table,” he says.

“I live with the motto go big or go home,” he says. “I wanted to have the entire county move forward on CCA.”

Haggerty was the right person for the job of recruiting so many partners. He is a consummate organizer and joiner, having served on a whopping 47 boards and commissions over the years. That has included stints as the chair of the board of BAAQMD, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and as President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

He has spent 22 years on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, currently serving his sixth elected four-year term. His district includes the cities of Livermore, Dublin, and most of Fremont, plus unincorporated areas of East Alameda County.

He has had a strong focus on transportation issues, and was instrumental in extending BART to Warm Springs, among many other things. But he says the creation of EBCE is “one of my greatest accomplishments,” especially for the climate change and public health benefits.

Scott Haggerty Speaking

“I think back to when I was a kid in Fremont, the air quality was horrible,” he recalls. “We’ve done a lot to clean the air but there is still a lot to do. The climate is changing, we see it everyday in wildfires and storms. We have to react to this.”

But he sees climate change as an opportunity as well.

“As we look at solar and wind and other ways to generate energy, there is a whole new economy there,” he says. “Through our Local Development Business Plan we can train the next generation of electrical workers, people who can be involved in the sustainable energy economy.”

“We have to be careful, because our core mission is sustainable power at a lower price,” he adds. “But we can reinvest in the community and bring a whole new economy to the Bay Area.”

Right now Haggerty is most concerned about a seamless launch of service to residential customers, and making sure customers accept and trust EBCE.

He also worries about the risk of unhelpful policies from the state.

“I’ve become frustrated about the grip that PG&E and other utilities have on the legislature. I hope moving forward that legislators look for ways to help CCAs thrive and not hold them back.”

Haggerty points to the fact that CCAs reflect their communities and voters, and provide citizens with a whole new level of say about their energy future.

“Community energy has brought the decision to the local level,” he says. “You can stop the mayor in your market and say ‘when are you going to buy more renewable energy?’ It’s an amazing change.They never had access to the people making decisions before.”

“This is the wave of the future, this is California,” he says. “We can show the nation how to cut carbon and continue to grow the economy.”

“Everything I’ve done in 22 years in office is to try to make Alameda County a better place. When I talk to high school kids in their classes I tell them I don’t worry about them, but about their children’s children. I have kids and they will have my grandkids. I want to leave this world in a shape so they can have the great life that I enjoyed.”

EBCE Runs Demand Response Pilot Program

EBCE executed its first demand response pilot program this summer, paying out over $100,000 to customers that cut demand during peak periods.

The program was modeled on existing peak pricing demand response programs, where customers respond to notifications of “peak day events,” or hours of expected high demand with high spot market power prices and potential grid stability issues. Cutting demand at those peak times helps with grid stability and reduces costs for all customers, not just those who respond.

The existing PG&E program, which is called Peak Day Pricing (PDP), is not available to customers served by CCAs. EBCE took over service for over 50,000 commercial and industrial customers in Alameda County in June, and a number of them didn’t want to lose the PDP option.

So EBCE put together their own version of the program, at least on a pilot basis. The goal was to retain customers, see what it’s like to run the program, and make sure it works.

Taj Ait-Laoussine, Vice President for Technology and Data Analytics, says EBCE focused on two tariff classes, for large commercial and industrial customers.

“Most other customer types were either not aware they were enrolled in PDP rates, or were not changing their behavior in response to notifications,” he says. “But big customers were responsive, and we knew they could deliver bigger results.”

For the pilot, EBCE simply followed PG&E’s lead on when the events were called, which were based on weather conditions across the service territory. EBCE set up systems to notify customers of events via email and text messages.

In all, EBCE called eight events in June and July and paid out over $100,000 in incentives. “Retaining customers that could alter their load shapes in response to demand response incentives was a win for all of EBCE, since they can cut demand during peak hours,” says Ait-Laoussine. “That helps us in reducing our overall procurement costs, since we reduce our exposure during potentially volatile hours.”

load shape of event days versus non event days chart

Ait-Laoussine says EBCE is conducting more research to determine what an ongoing program might look like. “We have to make sure it is tied into our procurement strategy, based on EBCE peak load periods and needs rather than PG&E’s, and develop a more robust notification system. Plus, we need to better identify customers that could provide meaningful impact while also benefiting from it, based on their business, their load, and their flexibility.”

While the pilot was a success, EBCE could develop a different approach to demand response. “Our goal is to flatten our load shape and to reduce financial risk in peak hours,” says Ait-Laoussine. “And there are different ways to do that.”

Peak season is in summer only, so EBCE has until next May to launch their new offering.

In the News

WHY DOES YOUR DECEMBER ELECTRICITY BILL LOOK DIFFERENT?, Berkeleyside, December 11

Some Berkeley residents were puzzled when they opened their electric bills this month, noticing a new “East Bay Community Energy” charge. Unless they opted out, Berkeley ratepayers were automatically switched over to a new electricity provider in November. EBCE is run by Alameda County, which purchases and provides the energy instead of PG&E, which still handles billing and manages power lines.

COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION CAN ACCELERATE LOCAL SOLAR GROWTH IN CITIES AND COUNTIES, Solar Power World, December 4

CCAs are growing, especially in California. The California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) announced in November that CCAs in the state have signed long-term contracts with new renewable energy facilities totaling more than 2 GW, “reflecting a strong commitment by CCAs to drive clean energy and economic development in California and help the state achieve ambitious decarbonization and climate change goals,” according to a CalCCA press release.

COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION PUTS COMMUNITIES IN CONTROL OF THEIR ELECTRICITY, Union of Concerned Scientists, September 10

CCAs offer an alternative to traditional utilities and are designed to give communities a voice in where their electricity comes from. In California, many CCAs are striving to provide their customers with more renewable energy at lower costs than traditional utilities.

COMMUNITY CHOICE IS DRIVING CALIFORNIA’S PRECOCIOUS ENERGY REVOLUTION, Forbes, August 2

California is on track to meet its clean-energy goals a decade early thanks in part to communities demanding and delivering renewable energy faster and cheaper than utilities can, according to a report released this morning. A growing number of Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) in California are not only delivering a higher percentage of renewable energy than utilities, they’re also causing utilities to offer a higher percentage, according to the report by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

 

New energy provider begins this month in Alameda County

Source: East Bay Times

A new electrical source is available to power the homes, offices and businesses of Alameda County residents.

East Bay Community Energy, launching this month, promises greener and in some cases less expensive service to about 568,000 Pacific Gas & Electricity customers, who are getting automatically enrolled as a result of their local city council or county supervisors joining the program.

East Bay Community Energy is purchasing solar, wind and renewable hydroelectric energy and will partner with PG&E to distribute it.

PG&E will still handle billing and maintain the pipes and wires that distribute the energy, plus the utility will continue responding to requests and emergencies.

Nevertheless, the switch has confused some customers, especially because they must choose which level of service they want from the new provider, despite the automatic changeover.

Adding to the mix is that it’s up to the customer whether to opt out if they want to stay with PG&E.

“I really didn’t understand it when I read about it,” said Shannon Elliott, a house owner in Oakland’s Rockridge district. “It was too confusing, so I basically just dropped it and forgot about it.”

Marc Cryan, 25, of Berkeley, said he knew nothing about the change because the utilities in his apartment are in his roommate’s name.

“But if it’s good for the environment, then I support it,” Cryan said.

Alameda County residents can choose one of three levels under East Bay Community Energy: “Bright Choice,” which is 38 percent renewable and 47 percent carbon free; “Brilliant 100,” which is 40 percent renewable and 60 percent carbon free; and “Renewable 100,” which is 100 percent renewable and carbon-free energy.

Bright Choice rates will be 1.5 percent lower than at PG&E, according to East Bay Community Energy. Brilliant 100 will be offered at the same price as PG&E. People who choose Renewable 100, however, can expect to pay about $4 more each month.

The switch for residential customers in Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Piedmont, Oakland, San Leandro, Union City and unincorporated areas of Alameda County is happening this month. Businesses were automatically enrolled in June.

“Residents of Alameda County and our 11 partner cities can now power their homes with cleaner energy,” Nick Chaset, East Bay Community Energy’s chief executive officer, said in a release. “We are committed to building a sustainable East Bay for years to come.”

Newark and Pleasanton have not joined East Bay Community Energy. Alameda is not taking part since it has its own municipal utility.

A joint powers authority, East Bay Community Energy was formed in 2016 and is governed by a board made up of one elected official from each participating jurisdiction and one non-voting representative from a community advisory committee.

The board, which meets once a month in public session, sets rates and determines the mix of power sources.

The nonprofit’s creation followed state lawmakers passing legislation in 2002 for community choice aggregation, which allows municipal governments to decide which power providers to contract with on behalf of ratepayers — a flexibility that has become an attractive way among some to counter climate change.

Along with East Bay Community Energy, others community choice agencies that have started over the past few years include Marin Clean Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, as well San Jose Clean Energy and South Bay Clean Power.

Twenty such agencies are projected to be operating in California by 2020.

All customers who do not opt out and do not choose a level of service will be enrolled in Bright Choice by default, except for Hayward and Albany. In those cities, unless customers choose a different option among service levels, they will be enrolled in the more expensive Brilliant 100 as a default. In Piedmont, the default is Renewable 100, the most expensive choice.

That is as a result of what elected officials in those cities felt would mostly closely align with their climate action plans, said Annie Henderson, an East Bay Community Energy spokeswoman.

So far, just 7,352 out of 568,916 eligible PG&E accounts have opted out, according to a background report for East Bay Community Energy’s Nov. 7 board meeting. Most are customers in Livermore and Oakland.

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, the chair of East Bay Community Energy’s board, said some residents have told him the program should have asked people if they wished to opt in, rather than opt out.

The enrollment structure was required under state law, he said.

“I am very proud of the collaboration between all the cities that joined us, organized labor and the advocates for clean energy; together we have developed the best (community choice aggregation) in the state,” Haggerty said in an email.

East Bay Community Energy will be doing community outreach over the next few weeks, including 6-7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the San Lorenzo Library, 395 Paseo Grande; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 17 at the downtown Berkeley Farmers Market, Center Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way; and 6:30-8 p.m. Nov. 29 at Hayward City Hall, 777 B St.

Alameda County’s New Electricity Provider – East Bay Community Energy Launches Clean Electricity to Residential Customers

Alameda County, CA (November 8, 2018) – Alameda County residents living in the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Piedmont, Oakland, San Leandro, Union City as well as unincorporated areas of the county have a new electricity provider as East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) launches its clean energy services throughout November. EBCE serves more than 500,000 accounts across the county, which represent a population of nearly 1.4 million people. Customers are automatically enrolled in the service based on their local city council or board of supervisors joining the EBCE program.

The residential launch marks a major milestone for Alameda County, as customers now enjoy a greener, lower cost choice for electricity. As one of the state’s newest and largest Community Choice Energy providers, EBCE is governed by a board of local elected officials and its meetings are open to the public. EBCE’s mission is to provide higher percentages of renewable and carbon-free energy compared to PG&E at competitive rates. EBCE will also invest in local energy-related programs within its participating communities.

“Residents of Alameda County and our 11 partner cities can now power their homes with cleaner energy. We are committed to building a sustainable East Bay for years to come,” says Nick Chaset, Chief Executive Officer of EBCE.

Residents have a choice between three EBCE services: Bright Choice, Brilliant 100, and Renewable 100. The standard service, Bright Choice, offers customers a 1.5% discount compared to their PG&E rate while receiving 5% more renewable energy. Customers can also choose Brilliant 100, which provides 100% carbon-free service for the same cost compared to PG&E, or opt up to Renewable 100, which provides 100% renewable & carbon-free energy sourced by solar and wind sources from within California.

A not-for-profit government agency, East Bay Community Energy will keep its rates competitive and reinvest earnings back into the community to create local green energy jobs and clean power projects that benefit the Alameda County economy within the program’s area.

ABOUT EBCE
East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) is a public agency power supplier, committed to providing electricity generated from a high percentage of renewable sources such as solar and wind. As of November 2018, Alameda County residents and businesses now have a greener choice for the source of electricity that powers their homes and businesses.

For more information about EBCE, visit ebce.org

EBCE Media Contact
Annie Henderson
ahenderson@ebce.org
510-640-9681

EBCE PR Contact
Rochelle Germano
R.Germano@circlepoint.com

EBCE to Launch for Commercial Customers in June

Alameda County, CA (April 18, 2018) – East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) is one step closer to providing clean electricity to unincorporated Alameda County and eleven of its cities: Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, Piedmont, San Leandro, and Union City. Starting in June, commercial and municipal businesses within the EBCE service area will be automatically enrolled to receive cleaner energy. Residents will be enrolled in November. EBCE will become the electricity provider for the service area, partnering with PG&E for power distribution, customer service, and billing.

EBCE is scheduled to provide more renewable energy than PG&E at lower rates. As the state’s newest Community Choice Energy provider, EBCE is locally governed and its processes are completely transparent, with Board and Community Advisory Committee meetings open to the public. Moreover, EBCE will reinvest earnings back into the communities it serves. This will create local jobs and provide economic benefits to the Alameda County community, while also retaining local involvement in energy choices.

EBCE will provide two services to all customers: Bright Choice and Brilliant 100. The basic service is Bright Choice, which is powered by at least 38% renewable energy and an additional 47% carbon-free energy (together, a total of 85% carbon-free) and offered at a 1.5% discount to the corresponding PG&E rate. Customers may also choose Brilliant 100 service, which provides a 100% carbon-free service for the same cost as the corresponding PG&E rate. EBCE will purchase solar, wind, and small hydroelectric renewable energy, which is all carbon-free, and will purchase large hydroelectric power as supplemental carbon-free energy. Over time, EBCE will increase the amount of renewable energy in its power mix.

“We’re excited to bring this new service to Alameda County,” says Nick Chaset, CEO of EBCE. “Businesses will now be able to power their work with more renewable energy that doesn’t affect their bottom line.”

In an effort to support sustainability goals, commercial customers in Albany and Hayward will be enrolled in Brilliant 100 automatically at the start of service. As leaders against climate change setting the example for their communities, the cities of Albany, Emeryville, Hayward, and Piedmont have placed all of their city’s accounts on Brilliant 100 service.

Some businesses have already chosen to opt up to the Brilliant 100 service, such as Numi Organic Teas.

“EBCE helps Numi Tea to meet our eco-responsibility goals by providing clean power options like Brilliant 100, which provides 100% carbon-free power from renewables and hydro at the same price as PG&E rates,” says Jane Franch. Director of Quality, Sourcing & Sustainability at Numi Organic Tea in Oakland.

Residents have the opportunity to become “Early Adopters”, and enroll in EBCE service prior to automatic enrollment. Spaces are limited and requests to participate as an Early Adopter must be submitted by May 25th.

About EBCE
East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) is a public agency power supplier, committed to providing electricity generated from a high percentage of renewable sources such as solar and wind. Set to roll-out from June through November 2018, Alameda County residents and businesses will soon have a new greener choice for the source of electricity that powers our homes and businesses.

For more information about EBCE, please visit ebce.org

EBCE Media Contact
Annie Henderson
510-640-9681

EBCE PR Contact
Rochelle Germano
510-285-6726