Clean energy agencies Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy announced Monday that they will join six other nonprofit agencies that buy clean energy on behalf of residents and form a new entity called California Community Power.
The nonprofits are community choice aggregators (CCA), which pool the entire purchasing demand of a county or area so that it can secure contracts for cleaner energy than is provided by the dominant utility, which in much of California is PG&E. The idea is to give customers a choice to buy cleaner power since PG&E can have older contracts and electricity that comes from sources that are not as renewable or low in carbon emissions than what CCAs often provide. Often, electricity purchased by CCAs is still distributed through the existing power grid belonging to PG&E or another dominant utility provider.
In San Mateo County, Peninsula Clean Energy is the CCA that by default offers customers cleaner energy than PG&E at a slight discount. Customers can either opt to purchase 100% renewable energy for slightly more than PG&E rates or opt out of the program and stick with PG&E.
"CCAs have helped local communities meet their climate goals by building new renewable resources and implementing programs that reduce emissions from transportation and buildings," said state Sen. Josh Becker in a press statement. "It is encouraging to see CCAs come together to develop long duration storage, a crucial resource for achieving our 100% clean energy target."
The new entity, California Community Power, will be a Joint Powers Authority, which will allow its member agencies to buy new, cost-effective clean energy and resources to help make that energy more reliable, according to the statement.
By joining, these agencies expect to be able to better negotiate for larger contracts for renewable energy and energy storage and mitigate risks.
To start, the JPA is looking for applicants for an at least 10-year contract for long-duration energy storage.
"We are eager to expand and formalize our partnerships among CCAs to help our communities affordably meet their climate goals while maintaining reliability, as the state transitions to a decarbonized grid," said Girish Balachandran, CEO of Silicon Valley Clean Energy, which serves much of Santa Clara County, including Mountain View.
The eight community choice aggregators that have joined the joint powers authority are Central Coast Community Energy, East Bay Community Energy, MCE, Peninsula Clean Energy, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, San Jose Clean Energy, Silicon Valley and Sonoma Clean Power. CleanPowerSF is also expected to join, according to a press statement.
"(These eight CCAs) are among the most ambitious in pursuing clean power, including our own drive toward 24/7 renewable power in the coming years," said Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper. "That won’t be possible without reliable long-term energy storage, so it’s important we are concentrating our early effort toward making that a reality.”