Collaborative Goals to Sustain Our Future
Community clean energy in California has been an elusive dream for several years, but finally appears on the way to fulfillment. While Governor Brown signed SB 43, the “Shared Renewables” Bill, State Senator Lois Wolk was the author and chief protagonist. The resulting Green Tariff Shared Renewable Program will enable the majority of Californians (actually about 75% of households) who heretofore could not afford renewable energy to now be able to do so. Specifically, participating customers will be able to purchase 100% of their electricity needs from renewable energy, receiving a bill credit from a renewable project as if it were located on their own property.
But before the California Dream is realized, there will be a deliberate evaluation of the challenges and opportunities this Bill creates. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will be directing the investor-owned utilities (“IOUs”: PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E) in establishing guidelines for the program by July, 2014. Some of the primary features of the program will include:
· The utilities will allow customers to subscribe to an additional 600 MW of renewable energy.
· Of the 600 MW total, 100 MW must be implemented within communities disproportionately impacted by environmental (and other) pollutants. ·
Another 100 MW is designated for residential customers, including renters and those who can’t afford to install their own renewable generation.
· The utilities will be obligated to specifically market this community renewable energy to low income customers.
· The utilities will also be obligated to install the renewable generation near to the areas where the electric load is greatest.
· Maximum individual project size is 20 MW.
· The program is expected to generate about 6,000 new jobs and $2.2 billion in economic growth in California within several years.
These and other aspects of the Bill will generate much debate from stakeholders participating within the CPUC proceeding. In our experts’ panel discussion, we’ll address some of the issues which could arise, such as:
1) How will the CPUC determine the cost effectiveness of the renewable programs proposed by the IOUs?
2) Will intangible benefits (e.g. greenhouse gas reductions) and intangible costs (e.g. grid stability) of distributed generation be quantified and included in cost-effectiveness calculations?
3) The program is supposed to prohibit costs from being shifted from participants to non-participating ratepayers. Will the costs of the program be allocated equitably?
4) If the benefits from the program extend beyond IOU ratepayers, should non-ratepayer beneficiaries share in cost recovery?
5) Will small renewable developers be able to compete with large renewable developers?
6) How can the IOUs and other utilities be adequately engaged and incented in accelerating the growth of distributed energy?