Press Release: EPA Recognizes the City Of Lancaster California with a Green Power Leadership Award

EPA Recognizes the City Of Lancaster California with a Green Power Leadership Award

National Awards Honor Leading Green Power Users

Post Date:09/06/2019 9:30 AM

R.Rex Parris_Green Power Community Award_09052019

The City of Lancaster, California announced today that it has received a 2019 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA’s annual Green Power Leadership Awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market. The EPA presented Lancaster with the Green Power Community award at the 2019 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in San Diego on September 5, 2019.

Lancaster was the only organization to be awarded with the Green Power Community award this year. With this program, the EPA recognizes Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves through their leadership, overall strategy, and impact on the green power market. The Green Power Community award recognizes communities that distinguish themselves through their green power usage, leadership, citizen engagement, renewable energy strategy, and impact on the green power market. Lancaster is currently using more than 2.5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough green power to meet 22 percent of the community’s overall electricity use. By choosing green power, Lancaster is accelerating the transition to a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable energy future.

“We are proud to receive the prestigious Green Power Community award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris.  “As Lancaster has become a worldwide leader in sustainability, it’s been our privilege to show other municipalities that alternative energy is an affordable, accessible choice that can help reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable environment for future generations.”

Since being elected in 2008, Mayor R. Rex Parris has positioned the City of Lancaster as a global leader in the alternative energy arena. A compelling advocate of green power, Parris has sought to combat climate change with unconventional ideas and unique partnerships. Mayor Parris’ innovative approach has led Lancaster to become one of the world’s first Zero-Net Energy Cities, which generates more energy than it consumes. In addition, Lancaster was recently designated as the Alternative Energy Research Center of Excellence for the State of California

According to the EPA, Lancaster’s current green power use of more than 2.5 million kWh is equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 200 average American homes. Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally-preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of those sources in the United States and advance the American green power market.

About the City of Lancaster, California
The City of Lancaster is a thriving community of nearly 170,000 in northern Los Angeles County. Clean air, attainable housing, wide open spaces, and a close-knit community make Lancaster an ideal place for businesses and families alike. In addition, Lancaster boasts more than 300 days of sunshine per year, making it the ideal place to pioneer new solar energy technologies. No matter how you look at it, it’s positively clear that Lancaster is the perfect place to live, work and play.

About EPA’s Green Power Partnership
The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that helps increase green power use among U.S. organizations to advance the American market for green power and development of those sources as a way to reduce air pollution and other environmental impacts associated with electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,500 Partners voluntarily using more than 60 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500® companies; small and medium sized businesses; local, state, and federal governments; and colleges and universities. For additional information, please visit http://www.epa.gov/greenpower.

About the Green Power Leadership Awards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) co-sponsors the annual Green Power Leadership Awards with the Center for Resource Solutions. EPA recognizes winners in the following awards categories: Green Power Partner of the Year; Sustained Excellence in Green Power; Direct Project Engagement; Excellence in Green Power Use; and Green Power Community of the Year. This program recognizes the exceptional achievement among EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves through green power procurement, market leadership, overall green power strategy, and overall impact on the green power market. The ceremony takes place at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference. This year’s 17 recipients are using more than 27.8 billion kWh of green power—enough to power nearly 2.6 million average American homes for a year. For additional information please visit www.epa.gov/greenpower/green-power-leadership-awards.

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Press Release – Avangrid Renewables to Sell California Wind Energy to CalChoice

Press Release – Avangrid Renewables to Sell California Wind Energy to CalChoice

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Lancaster Choice Energy – New Video

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Lancaster Choice Energy Now Offering Energy Efficiency Program for Small Businesses

Small Commercial Direct Install Program Offers Free Energy Efficiency Assessment, Equipment Upgrades, and Installation for Qualifying Businesses

Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) is now offering Lancaster businesses free, simple ways to save on electricity costs through its new Small Commercial Direct Install Program. The program provides free energy efficiency assessments and upgrades to qualifying small business customers, helping them use less electricity and reduce their energy bill, while also decreasing carbon emissions and furthering the City’s Zero Net Energy initiatives.

LCE has contracted with skilled energy efficiency expert, FESS Energy Solutions, for the cost-saving Direct Install Program. After a business has reached out to LCE, FESS Energy Solutions will contact the business owners to schedule a visit to evaluate the energy efficiency of their facility – and suggest improvements. If the business owner agrees with the recommendations, FESS will coordinate with them to schedule a convenient time for the installation of new energy-efficient equipment. Equipment upgrades could range from LED, Fluorescent, and High-bay lighting to occupancy sensors, refrigeration strip curtains, and door closers – all designed to help local businesses become more eco-friendly, while saving on their electricity bill. Not only is the evaluation, equipment, and installation free, but businesses can also stay open during installation. Participating businesses must be located in Lancaster and be LCE customers.

LCE also offers the Energy Advisor Program for Lancaster residents who are LCE customers. This program evaluates the energy efficiency of residential homes through a short survey via phone with LCE’s Energy Advisors. The survey results in a free Energy Audit Report highlighting ways to use less energy. The personalized report lists free and low-cost ways to cut back energy usage (such as weatherization and efficiency upgrades) as well as provides information regarding available energy efficiency programs and rebates.

Both energy efficiency programs are funded by nearly $1.2 million from SCE’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio budget. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in April 2018, the programs will be offered for LCE customers until funds are exhausted.

LCE is offering the Direct Install program to qualifying small businesses with a peak electricity demand of 200kW or less per month. For more information, or to participate in either of LCE’s energy efficiency programs, call 661-723-6084.

On Air Grpahic

Community Energy in Lancaster, California [INTERVIEW]

Bill Resnick interviews Kathy Wells who’s been organizing and managing the build out of Lancaster, CA’s public community energy system, which is moving toward zero carbon including transportation. Lancaster is 60 miles NE of L.A., 120,000 folks in the high desert.

 

 


Hosted by: Denise Morris
Produced by: KBOO
Air date: Mon, 02/04/2019 – 9:00am to 10:00am
Wind Turbines - Wind turbines near State Route 58 generate electricity for new energy provider Clean Power Alliance. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s how local governments are replacing California’s biggest utilities

Seventy miles north of downtown Los Angeles, where the Mojave Desert gives way to the San Joaquin Valley, three newly built wind turbines stand atop a ridge overlooking State Route 58. Strong gusts emerge from the mountain pass below, making this an especially windy spot in one of the windiest parts of California.

A few new turbines aren’t normally a big deal in the Golden State, which has been building wind farms for decades.

But these particular machines are at the heart of a revolution in California’s energy industry, which for millions of people, homes and businesses could mean an end to buying power from monopoly utilities such as Southern California Edison.

The three wind turbines at the top of the ridge — and three others nearby — recently started generating electricity for Clean Power Alliance, a government-run energy provider that is replacing Edison as the power source for more than 1 million homes and businesses across the Southland. Twenty-nine cities have joined Clean Power Alliance, as have unincorporated areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Residents of those areas will start receiving electricity from Clean Power Alliance in February. Edison will still distribute power over the poles and wires of the electric grid, and the Rosemead utility will send out the bills. But the alliance will buy and sell power, set rates and decide what incentives to provide customers for reducing their consumption or going solar.

Areas served by community choice aggregators

Areas served by community choice aggregators (Los Angeles Times)

Clean Power Alliance launched for a small group of customers last year, rolling out electric service to city governments and 30,000 businesses in parts of Los Angeles County. But next month will serve as the alliance’s grand opening. By the end of February, it will be California’s fifth-largest power provider, after Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

That fact is especially striking given Clean Power Alliance’s start-up-like working conditions. The alliance has 13 employees and is based in a WeWork shared-office space in downtown Los Angeles, with living-room-style lounges and Instagram-worthy neon lights.

“We’re not a bunch of people who were running some other public-sector something or other. We’re bringing a business savvy to this that is really important for our size and our ambition,” said Ted Bardacke, Clean Power Alliance’s executive director and a former infrastructure director for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Clean Power Alliance customers can choose among three electricity rate plans: one with a 36% renewable energy mix that’s slightly cheaper than Edison’s base rate, one with 50% renewables that’s on par with Edison and one with 100% renewables that’s more expensive than Edison. They can also opt out of Clean Power Alliance service and return to Edison at any time.

Local governments across the state have been forming these so-called community choice aggregators, or CCAs, to reduce rates and increase the use of climate-friendly energy sources such as wind and solar.

The CCA push started in the Bay Area a decade ago and more recently spread to Southern California, where efforts are also underway to establish community choice programs in San Diego, Riverside County and other areas.

Community choice providers are different from municipal utilities such as the DWP or Burbank Water and Power. Unlike municipal utilities, they’re not responsible for owning or operating the electric grid. Their role is to buy and sell the electrons that flow through power lines controlled by investor-owned utilities such as Edison.

Advocates say CCAs are an improvement on investor-owned utilities because they shift control from private monopolies to local governments, giving communities the ability to set their own rates, buy as much clean energy as they want and find creative ways to encourage clean energy technologies including rooftop solar, electric cars and microgrids.

There are now 19 community choice programs operating in California, 14 of which have launched in the last two years, according to the Center for Climate Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Wind turbines generate electricity that is transmitted through power lines in California's Tehachapi Wind Resource Area.

Wind turbines generate electricity that is transmitted through power lines in California’s Tehachapi Wind Resource Area. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

What does community choice mean for clean energy?

Although CCAs are an increasingly popular option, the rapid expansion of community choice has caused some renewable energy developers to worry about potential unintended consequences.

California has tripled its use of renewable energy in the last 15 years, in large part by requiring utilities to replace fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable power sources. Most of the work has been done by Edison, PG&E and SDG&E, which serve about two-thirds of electricity demand statewide.

In 2017, Edison’s power supply was 32% renewable, PG&E’s was 33% and SDG&E’s was 44%, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The rise of community choice — and the loss of customers for the monopoly utilities — has fundamentally changed that model. State officials estimate that Edison, PG&E and SDG&E could lose 85% of their energy sales by the mid-2020s. With far fewer customers, they won’t need nearly as much clean electricity to meet the state’s upcoming targets of 60% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% climate-friendly energy by 2045.

Edison already has enough projects under contract or in development to meet the 2030 mandate, said Colin Cushnie, the company’s vice president of energy procurement and management. And with uncertainty over how many Edison customers will ultimately depart for CCAs, it’s not clear if or when the utility will sign more renewable energy contracts, which typically have a life span of 20 to 30 years.

“Since we’re meeting our statutory requirement,” Cushnie said, “we’re taking a hiatus at this point in time.”

Community choice providers are required to meet the state’s renewable energy targets too, and they’ve been picking up some of the slack as the monopoly utilities sign fewer contracts. Overall, CCAs have signed long-term deals for more than 2,000 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity, mostly solar and wind farms.

Clean Power Alliance’s six new wind turbines in Kern County are a small example.

Joshua trees and wind turbines near Mojave, Calif.

Joshua trees and wind turbines near Mojave, Calif. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“A lot of new steel has gone into the ground thanks to the CCAs,” said Don Vawter, director of origination and development for Terra-Gen, a New York-based energy developer that built the turbines for Clean Power Alliance.

But some renewable energy developers aren’t sure the CCAs can meet the state’s goals over the next few years. They say the newly formed entities don’t have credit ratings or much of a financial history, which can make it difficult to persuade lenders to fund construction of solar and wind farms.

The vast majority of the long-term clean energy contracts signed by CCAs so far have been inked by Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power, the two community choice programs that have been around the longest.

“All the new ones that are being stood up today are struggling to figure out how they can obtain creditworthy status and contract for power,” said Bill Miller, an executive at Anschutz Corp., which has been working to build a huge wind farm in Wyoming and sell the electricity in California. “They can do some near-term, short-term contracts … but to enter into long-term, reliable contracts is very difficult for them.”

Short-term contracts to buy clean electricity from existing projects can help CCAs meet their renewable energy goals for a few years. But in the long run, the state’s next climate change target — reducing carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 — will require huge amounts of new renewable energy capacity to be built.

The Large-Scale Solar Assn., a Sacramento-based trade group, estimated in September that CCAs needed to strike deals for an additional 5,000 megawatts of clean power by 2021 to meet the state’s long-term contracting requirements.

“There’s market uncertainty in terms of who’s going to buy, when are they going to buy,” said Rick Umoff, California director of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Assn., a national trade group. “It’s unclear if the CCAs are even equipped to buy the energy they need to meet the [renewable energy] targets.”

‘You have to figure out a way to get comfortable’

Community choice advocates say those concerns are overblown and don’t reflect the views of most renewable energy developers. They say the CCAs have met or exceeded the state’s clean energy targets so far and will continue to do so.

Nick Chaset, chief executive of East Bay Community Energy in Alameda County and a former chief of staff to California Public Utilities Commission President Michael J. Picker, noted that several of the country’s biggest clean energy developers, including NextEra and EDF, have done deals with CCAs. He said community choice programs have shown banks that customers will pay their bills and are unlikely to opt out of CCA service and return to the investor-owned utilities.

Chaset suggested that renewable energy trade groups skeptical of community choice were behind the times and haven’t caught up with the reality that their members are figuring out how to work with CCAs.

“They’re used to a certain system,” Chaset said, “and they’re struggling with the fact that the system is changing.”

It’s no longer just well-established CCAs that are signing long-term contracts. Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power, which launched in 2017 and 2018, respectively, have entered into three long-term contracts together, including deals with the developers Recurrent Energy and EDF for solar farms paired with battery storage.

The CCAs say those projects are the largest solar-plus-storage facilities ever contracted in California. Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay also signed a contract with Pattern Energy for 200 megawatts of wind power from New Mexico.

There are other examples of CCAs banding together to buy energy. Several CCAs have joined the Lancaster-based California Choice Energy Authority, which has negotiated contracts on behalf of its members.

Clean Power Alliance was able to get its first six wind turbines built because they’re part of a larger wind farm development, with more established buyers committed to buying most of the energy. But now the CCA is evaluating long-term contract offers from more than 50 developers, including proposals for solar, wind and battery storage.

The alliance might not have gotten so many offers a few years ago. But banks and energy companies are coming around on the CCAs, said Matt Langer, Clean Power Alliance’s chief operating officer and a former Edison employee.

“The developers have recognized that if you want to be developing renewable energy in California and the West, then who’s buying? It’s the CCAs,” Langer said. “So you have to figure out a way to get comfortable.”


Article written by Sammy Roth of the Los Angeles Times.  (January 25th, 2019)

Click here for original article. 

Government Shutdown Assistance

Lancaster Choice Energy offers assistance to furloughed federal workers who are also LCE customers.

The City of Lancaster is joining forces with the City of Palmdale to assist residents who are federal government employees during the current federal government shutdown.

Lancaster Choice Energy is offering assistance for furloughed federal workers who are also LCE customers. LCE customers who are furloughed workers or are working without pay will have deferred energy bill payments until 30 days after the shutdown has been lifted.

Call LCE at (661) 723-6084 for more information.

For the full press release and to learn about additional resources, see below.


Cities of Lancaster and Palmdale Join Forces to Assist Federally Employed Local Residents Affected by Federal Government Shutdown

The City of Lancaster is joining forces with the City of Palmdale to assist residents who are federal government employees during the current federal government shutdown.

“Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer and I are committed to the wellbeing of our residents – and are working together to take care of those in our community who are most affected by the government shutdown,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “This is a scary time for many federal employees who already work hard to make ends meet and are now faced with bills to pay and families to feed, and yet no paycheck. Regardless of your political opinion of the shutdown, it’s time for all of us to come together and be responsive to these needs – and help our neighbors and friends through this challenging time.”

To support federal workers in the community who have been furloughed or are working without pay, the Cities of Lancaster and Palmdale are implementing assistance programs, as well as listing all known resources available locally and nationally on their main websites. The two cities share a common landing page, https://goo.gl/R8hb2W, which provides links to their respective listings. These listings will be continuously updated as resources evolve.

“Our local residents are experiencing hardships not of their making and it is lasting much longer than anyone expected,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “The City of Palmdale is committed to working with the City of Lancaster to make sure our affected residents have access to City services and other available resources to help them make it through the impacts of the federal government shutdown.”

The City of Lancaster is deferring fees for Lancaster business licensing and parking citations, as well as recreation program registration fees for federal employees during the shutdown. Additionally, the City’s utility company, Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE), will defer federal employee customers’ energy bill payments until 30 days after the shutdown has been lifted. Food assistance is also available via Grace Resources.

The City of Palmdale will also be deferring payment of Palmdale parking citations and recreation program registration fees for federal employees within their jurisdiction. Palmdale’s SAVES food program and the HPRP Rental Assistance Program are additional resources available to Palmdale residents.

For contact information regarding Lancaster and Palmdale specific programs, or to learn about additional non-City resources for affected federal workers, please visit the shared Lancaster-Palmdale assistance page: Government Shutdown Assistance

Lancaster Choice Energy Featured on “Minding Your Business”

Join Lancaster Choice Energy’s Kathy Wells and Lancaster’s Chamber of Commerce in “Minding Your Business,” a local radio show. This week’s episode is all about Lancaster’s booming community choice aggregate, Lancaster Choice Energy!

 

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State Approves Lancaster Choice Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program Plan; LCE the First CCA in Southern California to Be Approved

More Than $1 Million in Funding to be Provided for Local Programs to Help Customers Find New Ways to Reduce Energy Use

At the Lancaster City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the City Council accepted funding for Lancaster Choice Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program Plan. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on April 26, the three-year plan authorizes nearly 1.2 million in funds from SCE’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio budget to fund local programs to help both residential and small business customers find new ways to lower their energy use and bills. Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) is the first Community Choice Aggregate (CCA) program in Southern California – and in Southern California Edison territory – to receive approval to offer these free energy efficiency programs to its customers.

“Lancaster is known for being a record-setting ‘City of firsts.’ We are pleased to announce that Lancaster Choice Energy is now the first CCA in Southern California to be approved by the CPUC for these innovative programs,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “These new energy efficiency programs will enhance our City’s sustainability efforts, while also helping LCE consumers save money.”

LCE allows customers to reduce their impact on the environment by offering most of its power from renewable resources. An even better way for customers to save the environment and their budgets is by simply using less energy in the first place. This is the goal of LCE’s new Energy Efficiency Plan.

One initiative of the two-pronged Energy Efficiency Plan is the Energy Advisor program, which will offer personalized energy advice for Lancaster homeowners. The Energy Advisor program will provide LCE’s residential customers with free energy surveys, which highlight ways to reduce their power usage. Advisors identify free and low-cost options available to residents, including weatherization, efficiency upgrades, and special financing programs for energy-efficient appliances and equipment.


The second component of the plan is the Small Commercial Direct Install program, which proposes energy efficiency solutions for small businesses in Lancaster. Small business customers will be offered free or low-cost energy efficiency retrofits designed to reduce their overall usage. By installing energy efficient lighting, refrigeration, and controls, a business can often lower the cost of running their business while reducing carbon emissions.

Marin Clean Energy, California’s first CCA, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Energy Network also showed support for LCE’s plan, filing a formal letter with the CPUC calling LCE’s plan “a good model for the rest of the state,” noting that it will add value for local ratepayers.

The new Energy Advisor and Small Commercial Direct Install programs are expected to launch in autumn 2018. For more details on the program, visit www.LancasterChoiceEnergy.com or call (661) 723-6084.