Local Bay Area energy agencies are joining forces to stabilize California’s grid by providing residents and businesses with economical and emissions-free battery backup systems. Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Power (SVP), East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Peninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) are issuing a joint solicitation for the installation of over 30 megawatts of battery storage for their customers. The program will provide resilient solar power combined with battery storage to approximately 6,000 homes and hundreds of businesses in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, including those hit by recent Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power shutoffs.
This innovative program also enables the use of local resources to fulfill state “Resource Adequacy” requirements. Resource Adequacy refers to energy generating capacity that local agencies and utilities must contract to ensure the safe and reliable operation of California’s electrical grid in real time. This requirement has historically been filled through purchasing Resource Adequacy from distant power plants. This new program shifts the purchase of Resource Adequacy to new local solar power and battery storage systems that provide the benefits of backup power directly to local homes and businesses as well as bill savings.
The announcement was made on Nov. 5 outside the Fremont Fire Station #6, where a microgrid powered by a solar and battery system ensures the lights stay on for emergency responders through the outages that have affected more than one million customers in PG&E territory alone during the past several weeks.
The Request for Proposals, issued today, calls for proposals to install battery systems on local homes and businesses that may be combined with new or existing solar systems. The systems will lower energy bills, increase reliability, and help stabilize the power supply for the community at large. A minimum of 50 percent of the systems are earmarked for residents and the remaining capacity for multifamily properties and commercial buildings. Partner vendor(s) will be selected in early 2020, with the intent of announcing the program details in spring 2020, and projects to be underway soon after with the intent of preempting the next fire season.
EBCE, Peninsula Clean Energy, and SVCE are Community Choice Energy providers; public agencies that for the past few years have provided businesses and residents in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties respectively with clean power at rates below PG&E’s. The agencies have collectively saved customers tens of millions of dollars each year on electricity while funding the development of hundreds of megawatts of new renewable energy projects. They are joined by SVP, the long-standing municipal utility serving the City of Santa Clara.
While the solicitation is not prescriptive, it lists goals of supporting low-income residents, customers with life-dependent medical equipment, and residents and businesses located in disadvantaged communities. One potential model for the program is EBCE’s 10-year agreement with San Francisco-based Sunrun for 0.5 megawatts of energy storage in and around Oakland drawn from new solar plus storage installations on low-income housing. The program will also complement Peninsula Clean Energy’s commitment of up to $10 million to provide clean backup power in Santa Mateo County, as well as additional customer programs provided by SVCE and SVP.
Customers within Alameda County interested in participating in the program can sign up to receive updates at ebce.org/resilience, in San Mateo County at peninsulacleanenergy.com/resilience, and in portions of Santa Clara County at svcleanenergy.org/resilience.