May 28, 2020

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Altamont wind turbines

EBCE Goes Shopping For Clean Energy

EBCE is getting greener, as it signs contracts for power from new wind, solar, and energy storage projects in California.

In September the EBCE Board approved two contracts for utility-scale solar with storage, totalling 225 MW of solar and 80 MW / 160 MWh of batteries.

The new deals bring the total contracted amount up to 550 MW of clean energy generation — 493 MW of solar and 57.5 MW of wind — plus over 135 MW of energy storage, including the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative, which has contracted for 27.5 MW of distributed storage to replace an peaking plant at Jack London Square.

Another 123 MW of Alameda County wind projects are under discussion, while responses to a joint solicitation for a minimum of 10 MW of distributed storage have come in and are being reviewed.

“We are well on our way to achieving our board’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says EBCE Senior Director of Power Resources, Marie Fontenot. “The low prices we are seeing in the market are a good sign.”

Solar + Storage

The two latest deals show the remarkable emergence of solar + storage as a cost-effective option. Solar has become the cheapest option for California power generation, while batteries have become an easy way to shift afternoon solar generation into the early evening hours while enhancing community resilience.

  • sPower Solar + Storage Project is 125 MW of solar power with 80 MW/160 MWh of battery storage in southern California, developed by Salt Lake City-based sPower.

  • Edwards Solar Project is 100 MW of solar power on Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County, plus a first-of-a-kind “virtual storage” contract that protects EBCE from negative pricing. Negative prices can happen when the market has too much supply, like in the spring when there is a lot of hydropower from spring runoff combined with solar power on sunny days. Prices go negative to encourage some generators to stop putting their power on the grid.

While exact pricing is confidential, EBCE CEO Nick Chaset announced on Twitter the “astoundingly low” average price of $22 per MWh, with a 2% inflation adjustment over time. According to PV Magazine, this is among the lowest prices for solar yet recorded in the US. The developers have also agreed to contribute over $1,000,000 towards EBCE’s Community Investment Fund plus additional volunteer and education-related training hours.

Wind

EBCE is also shopping for wind power. Altamont Pass, in eastern Alameda County, is famous as the site of the first utility-scale wind project in the world, dating back to the 1980s.

New contracts with EBCE will allow many old turbines in the Altamont Pass to be removed, and replaced with much larger but many fewer turbines. The EBCE project contract with Altamont Winds will replace 569 small 100 kW turbines with 23 modern turbines. With their tubular towers and slower moving blades, the new turbines will dramatically reduce bird impacts, while producing more electricity.

Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Plus they will produce jobs and energy within EBCE’s service territory.

“Solar and wind energy generated right here in our own backyard will soon be powering Alameda County households and businesses,” said EBCE Board Chair Scott Haggerty, at the signing ceremony. “That’s cheaper, greener, locally sourced energy, with proceeds that are invested right back into the community through energy improvement projects and jobs.”

Two more Altamont wind projects are under discussion with Clearway Energy Group and the Brookfield Renewable Partners, potentially coming online by the end of 2021.

EBCE’s Clean Energy Pipeline

DeveloperTechnologyNameplate MWStorage MWCountyExpected CompletionTerm (years)
Contracted
Altamont WindsWind57.5N/AAlameda12/1/2020
Clearway Energy GroupSolar112N/AKern12/31/2015
Solar Frontier AmericasSolar56N/ATulare12/31/2115
EDPR Renewables North AmericaSolar + Storage10030Fresno12/31/2220
sPowerSolar + Storage12580SoCal12/31/2220
Terra-GenSolar + Virtual Storage100TBDKern12/31/2215
Evaluating
Clearway Energy GroupWind43N/AAlameda12/31/2115
Brookfield Renewable PartnersWind80N/AAlameda12/31/2120
Oakland Clean Energy Initiative
Vistra EnergyIn front of meter storage and resource adequacy2020Alameda1/1/2210
esVoltaIn front of meter storage and resource adequacy77Alameda12/1/2113
SunRunBehind the meter storage and resource adequacy0.50.5Alameda1/1/2210
TOTAL701137.5