Community choice aggregators (CCAs) are an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional investor-owned utilities (IOUs) with great potential for California’s clean energy future. “This new type of retail electricity provider enables communities to make their own decisions about their energy investments”, says Beth Vaughan, Executive Director at California Community Choice Association (CalCCA).
CCAs allow local governments to pool or aggregate their electricity load in order to purchase and develop power projects on behalf of residents, businesses, and municipal accounts. CCAs are legal entities that partner with the region’s existing utility, which continues to deliver power, maintain the grid, and provide consolidated billing and other customer services.
Led by the early efforts of pioneers like Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power, CCAs have built new, local renewable generation facilities. To date, 19 CCAs in California have signed contracts for over 1,300 megawatts (MW) of clean generation capacity, including 710 MW of new solar panels, supporting over 4,270 local jobs. They supply up to 25 percent more renewable energy than the affiliated IOU at a competitive price, due to their lighter and more flexible cost structure.
The challenge is to fairly allocate past and future system costs, for example transmission costs, Vaughan says. As CCAs increase their share of the California energy market, their role in maintaining and creating resources for grid stability, such as demand response, energy storage and smart EV charging, will also grow.
In a world of ever-changing schedules, solar decision-makers know they can plan on meeting in San Francisco every July. Since our first event in 2008, Intersolar North America has stayed in California, the epicenter of technology innovation and groundbreaking energy policy. According to CALSSA, Intersolar’s valuable partner, California leads the U.S. solar market in the following ways:
In 2017, the energy storage market saw formidable growth, similar to the trajectory that the solar market took nearly ten years before. With the U.S. market surpassing the impressive 1GWh mark, the news cycle has been dominated by massive deployments, monumental M&A activity, cutting-edge technology innovations and crucial policy developments.
Consensus is building that one of the most efficient ways to meet necessary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals is to electrify everyday items in our lives. Aggressive electrification of the ways we drive, power up our personal energy devices, and regulate the temperatures in our homes can make the difference we need to decarbonize our world.
The global solar market is expected to continue its growth in 2018. The U.S. alone accomplished a milestone in 2017, reaching 49.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity by Q3 and expected to install another 12 GW by the end of the year. As more states realize the potential of solar energy, and solar-plus-storage deployments gain traction in both residential and utility-scale projects, approximately 106 gigawatts of new PV is expected to go live in 2018, making this year the global solar market’s first-ever triple-digit year, according to GTM Research.
Traditional financing models, including leases and power purchase agreements, have played a vital role in reducing risk and enabling solar projects. Looking ahead to the next wave of growth, innovative financing models such as Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and incentive programs for community solar will play a key role in accelerating the reach of solar in the United States.
As prices for renewable energy costs and PPAs continue to decline, clean energy may be closer to winning the battle with fossil fuels. According to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report, the average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar reached as low as $0.10 per kilowatt-hour, a price decrease of nearly of 73 percent between 2010 and 2017. This pricing is comparable to $0.05 and $0.17 per kilowatt-hour for fossil fuel power. This downward slope in price has continued to decline from 2014 to 2017 with more solar projects moving toward the global average coal and gas LCOE range.
The U.S. solar market has created hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans and, until recently, has seen record growth year-over-year. According to the 2017 National Solar Jobs Census, compiled and published by The Solar Foundation, one in 50 jobs in the U.S. were in the solar energy sector, nearly triple the amount available in 2010 and double the amount of jobs provided by the coal industry at the time.
The outlook for the growth of the energy storage industry is very strong, much like the outlook for the solar industry. And while the two industries are distinct, the historical growth patterns of the two industries are quite similar. In the past ten years, solar had a compound annual growth rate of more than 60 percent. The energy storage market has also undergone substantial growth; 83 MW of storage were installed in 2012. By 2021 GTM Research predicts more than 2 GW will be installed annually.
Most of the U.S. energy infrastructure predates the turn of the 20th century. From transmission and distribution lines to generation plants, everything was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. Following the devastating natural disasters in 2017 resulting in power outages, the value for modern, reliable and resilient infrastructure is highlighted.