When the Old Model Isn't Working Anymore...
- May 4, 2021 5:41 am GMT
In 2019, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) wanted to be relieved of the job of purchasing the sources of electricity (natural gas, solar, wind) to meet customers’ energy needs. “Choice is happening and we need to evolve with it,” Kendall Helm, SDGE’s vice president of energy supply said. “And this old model … doesn’t make sense.” The utility recognized the need for change and embraced them. While they haven’t abandoned renewable energy as a source, new laws have changed the way they can report their renewable energy endeavors. The California Energy Commission wanted to clarify how much renewable energy utilities deliver to California customers. “The purpose of the regulation was greater transparency and to level the playing field so everybody is using the same math,” said Lindsay Buckley, a spokeswoman for the Energy Commission. In the past, renewable energy credits were used to offset any deficiencies in reaching zero-carbon goals. However, figures must now be reported separately. Now SDG&E reports the actual amount of energy San Diegans consume from renewables and renewable energy credits(RECs) no longer count toward climate targets. RECs are reported in a different category, as a percentage of energy sales. With SDG&E relinquishing their purchase power, the responsibility of clean energy will fall on new government-backed power agencies or community choice aggregators. A new community choice energy program (CCA) encompassing Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach will begin enrolling customers this week. The CCA offers an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric when it comes to purchasing sources of energy. “We are very excited that after years of work, (the Clean Energy Alliance) will be bringing cleaner energy and choice to Carlsbad and Del Mar and continuing the same cleaner energy mix for Solana Beach,” Kristi Becker, the chair of the alliance and Solana Beach’s deputy mayor, said in an email. Earlier this year, another CCA called San Diego Community Power launched in five cities. Customers can continue to support renewable energy with a CCA but they won’t see savings right away. Exit fees must be paid to SDG&E to cover the costs the utility has spent, over the years, on building power plants and developing renewable energy projects. So far, 779 customers in the three cities have opted to stay with SDG&E. The utility continues to reinvent itself with major projects modernizing and upgrading infrastructure.
Their neighbors in Arizona haven't always had a clear idea about how renewables would be incorporated into their energy mix but they do now. Tucson Electric Power(TEP) is launching its biggest solar and wind plants to date. Built and owned by NextEra Energy, 100MW Wilmot Energy Center will be their biggest solar generating resource and will include 30MW of battery storage. The 250MW Oso Grande Wind Project in New Mexico will also go online soon to provide power to TEP customers. “These systems more than double our large-scale renewable energy resources and represent a big step toward the cleaner, greener grid we’re building for our community,” said Susan Gray, TEP’s President and CEO. “We’re taking decisive action on behalf of our community to protect our climate.”
When the old model isn't working anymore, it's time for an upgrade. What 'decisive action' has your utility taken to trade in an old business model for a new one? How are you navigating the needs of the customer, climate goals and policy changes?