East Bay Community Energy Launches!

After years of planning and preparation, and countless hours of hard work by hundreds of stakeholders, East Bay Community Energy has officially launched!

We began serving commercial, industrial, and public accounts on June 1. Those 55,000 customers consume about 63 percent of the total energy we will serve when fully operational.

Residential customers, about 37 percent of our load, started getting service on November 1. We are initially serving about 500,000 customers, or about 1.5 million residents of Alameda County.

While launching our service of clean, green energy has been our number one priority, we have a host of other activities underway and coming soon.  Our Local Development Business Plan spells out an aggressive set of options for local energy projects, including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed renewables, and vehicle electrification.

Stay tuned as we roll out these and other programs and policies. To track our progress sign up for our mailing list here, follow us on LinkedIn, and follow our CEO Nick Chaset on Twitter.

Relief is On the Way for West Oakland Air Quality

Relief is on the way for a polluting power plant in Oakland’s Jack London Square. The historic Lightship RELIEF is docked next to the Oakland Power Plant.

There is an odd building near Jack London Square in Oakland.  On the street side, the building looks somewhat classical, with tall arches reaching up to a crenellated portico. But viewed from the other side, from the Inner Harbor waterfront, you see it’s real mission — black smokestacks betray the home of three power generators at the 165 megawatt Dynegy Oakland Power Plant.

While the plant dates back to 1888, the current generators were installed in 1978 and run on jet fuel, hardly the cleanest source of energy.  With Jack London Square evolving from an industrial zone to a mix of retail, office, residential, and industrial uses, the local air quality impacts of the plant have been a lingering problem.

Now relief is on the way.  East Bay Community Energy is partnering with PG&E on the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative (OCEI), to replace the plant with a mix of clean distributed energy technologies.

 

The Oakland Power Plant dates back to 1888, and was owned by PG&E from 1905 to 1998.

Simply shutting down the plant is not possible, since it provides essential reliability to the Oakland grid, getting “reliability must run” or RMR payments from CAISO, the state’s grid operator. Another option, stringing new transmission lines across Oakland, was a non-starter.

Instead, the plan is to deploy battery storage, demand response, and energy efficiency improvements in the neighborhood, along with upgrades to the local distribution system. In all, EBCE will have 20 to 45 MW of new clean energy resources, in line with the Local Development Business Plan.

CAISO approved the plan in March, and EBCE and PG&E are currently reviewing bids from developers.  EBCE will buy local energy and capacity products while PG&E purchases reliability products from the same resources.

The project will then need to be approved by state and federal regulators, and is expected to come online by the middle of 2022.

For more information:

EBCE press release

PG&E press release

 

Customers Are Opting Up to Cleaner Energy

EBCE serves clean energy, but customers can opt up to even cleaner choices, through the Brilliant 100 and Renewable 100 options.

Our three levels of power products have different mixes of renewable and carbon-free sources. (By “renewable” we mean sources that are eligible for the state renewables portfolio standard, like wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and small hydropower. Our “carbon-free” power is from large hydropower).

Bright Choice is at least 38% renewable plus 47% carbon-free, and is currently priced 1.5% below PG&E’s generation rates.  Brilliant 100 is at least 40% renewable and an additional 60% carbon-free, and is priced on par with PG&E. Renewable 100 is entirely from in-state RPS-eligible renewables, and certified by Green-e.  Renewable 100 has a premium of 1 cent per kilowatt-hour above PG&E rates.

And customers are already opting up to greener energy. The Piedmont City Council voted earlier this year to enroll all residential accounts in Renewable 100.  By opting up, they said, “our community will make significant steps towards reaching the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of our recently-adopted Climate Action Plan 2.0.”

Hayward and Albany have opted for Brilliant 100 for all accounts, both residential and non-residential. 

Businesses too are opting up to help do their part to save the planet.  Schnitzer Steel, Roam Artisan Burgers, and Numi Tea are just a few that have voluntarily opted up to Brilliant 100.

One of the largest customers in the East Bay, U.C. Berkeley, is opting for Brilliant 100. The statewide University of California system announced on September 4 that all ten U.C. campuses and five medical centers will switch to zero-carbon power by 2025.

Faces of EBCE — Nick Chaset

Nick Chaset has energy in his blood.

The EBCE CEO is the son of two lawyers with decades of experience in energy and telecom. His father, Larry Chaset, spent time at the Air Resources Board and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and helped pursue refunds after the 2000-01 Western power crisis while on the staff of the California Public Utilities Commission. His mother, Gretchen Dumas, spent 35 at the CPUC as a telecom and energy attorney.

But it goes back further — Larry’s father and grandfather ran a home heating business in Providence, Rhode Island, delivering oil and coal door-to-door.

That makes Nick a fourth generation energy professional.

While his passion for energy may be genetic, it is also a response to the threat of global warming.

“Every facet of our lives relies on electricity but we often don’t think about it,” he says. “It’s so ubiquitous and important, yet we have a moral and personal imperative to transition to carbon-free energy.”

Nick has spent 13 years in the energy business so far, including his own stint at the CPUC, as Chief of Staff to CPUC President Michael Picker. After undergrad at Tufts University and an MBA from Georgetown University, he worked for clean energy companies and consultants, before landing on the staff of Governor Jerry Brown.

It was there that he made his biggest mark so far in energy, he says, by shepherding the evolution of net energy metering (NEM) from version 1.0 to version 2.0. NEM is a foundational policy that sets out the rules for customer-owned generation, primarily from solar panels. As solar power took off in California, it was bumping up against caps on deployment, while raising questions about how solar should be valued to maximize benefits to the grid.

“I worked with the legislature and the CPUC to lift the cap and move to a system that would allow for the continued growth of rooftop solar,” Chaset recalls. “There was a concern that without reforming the rules solar would not scale up, and it would be limited it to very high income customers.”

The NEM 2.0 decision lifted the cap, but also required customers with solar to switch to a time-of-use rate, better aligning solar with the value of energy on the grid. He points to the continued robust growth of solar as evidence that the new policy is working.

“I see a lot of parallels between that and what is happening now with CCAs,” he says. “We’ve reached a critical mass with CCAs and now we have to come up with a system that allows for continued growth. I’m putting a lot of my attention to policies that allow for that growth.”

While California is on a path toward a cleaner energy system, Chaset thinks that CCAs can help in going greener quicker, while delivering more local benefits.

“My goal for EBCE is to deliver lower carbon, lower cost energy solutions that benefit all residents of Alameda County — especially those that have borne the brunt of our past environmental mistakes.”

“And as a community energy supplier, we want to create local jobs and local economic benefits,” he adds. “The East Bay is home to many energy innovators, including Berkeley Lab and Tesla. We want EBCE to foster an ecosystem for innovation, to become the epicenter of clean energy innovation.”

In the News

New energy provider begins this month in Alameda County, East Bay Times, November 13

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.

San Diego Moves Ahead With 100% Clean Energy Community Choice Program, Greentech Media, October 25

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that the city will move ahead with plans to create a CCA.  “This is not a partisan issue,” he said. “It’s a ‘right thing to do’ issue.” The city has a goal of 100% clean energy by 2035. If approved by the City Council, San Diego will be the 20th CCA in California and will serve 1.4 million customers.

10 Southern California municipalities commit to 100% renewables through CCA program, Solar Power World, November 5.

Nine SoCal cities plus Ventura County have opted for default 100% renewable supply for all residential, business, and public accounts through the Clean Power Alliance CCA. CARE and other low-income customers will get 100% renewables at no additional cost. The group has a combined population of approximately 750,000.

3 Bay Area cities ranked among greenest in U.S. — and one aims to keep improving, San Jose Mercury News, October 11.

Fremont was ranked the seventh greenest city in America by WalletHub. They tied for first on clean energy, thanks to their membership in EBCE, their local code requiring solar panels on all new residential construction, and their Fremont Green Challenge program to help households cut carbon.

The Growth in Community Choice Aggregation: Impacts to California’s Grid, Next10, August 2

The UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation released a report on the recent growth of CCAs in California. They found that CCAs got between 37 and 100 percent of their power from renewables last year, with a statewide average of 52 percent, higher than the IOUs at 32 to 44 percent.  CCAs also had lower rates, ranging from 0.1 to 2.1 percent lower.