Today, we report on a big win in Mountain View and the conclusions drawn from three large studies of Local Choice Energy. A just released University of Massachusetts study, outlines extraordinary potential from LCE. The study follows studies done by UCLA and another by the National Renewable Energy Lab, each of which points to Local Choice Energy’s potential for creating local jobs, lowering rates and significantly accelerating progress in transitioning to renewables. But of course, the utilities will try to kill it with misinformation. Read On!
Feb 15 Huddle Cancelled Due to Illness. Join us next Weds, Feb 22. Link to register below.
Click to Register for Feb 22.You must register to attend.
Local Choice Energy is NOT a Pipe Dream
Studies have been conducted across the country of Local Choice Energy programs operating in eight states and over 1800 communities serving millions of people. These studies are all showing the same thing: Local Choice Energy works; it creates jobs; it lowers rates; it delivers renewable energy, it vastly accelerates our transition to renewable energy and it triggers an offensive utility response riddled with misinformation and lies. And so in today’s blog we unravel some of this and provide Facts from these three studies to counter their misinformation.
We ask that you use this information and communicate with your legislators and with Senate Judiciary Committee members (list at end of post) and in particular with the SJC Chair Senator Joseph Cervantes. Our ask is simple and should be stated civilly: we seek a hearing soon, while there is still time to move this through the legislature. And then we want your vote.
So today we share successes for you to share with your legislators. We will start with California
UCLA Study Describes California Successes Offers a Model & a Path Forward
Despite a lack of action at the federal level, the transition to carbon-free energy is becoming a reality across the United States. At the local level, community choice aggregators (CCAs) — which offer communities public control over their electricity purchasing decisions — are accelerating this transition. Through these electricity providers, member communities can choose how much renewable energy is offered to their residents and businesses. According to a UCLA study,
“Across California, 182 cities and counties have become members of one of the 23 CCAs. These CCAs have been effective at unlocking a market largely stifled by an investor-owned utility monopoly and have given an opportunity for cities and counties who want more renewable energy to do so. And over two-thirds of California CCA member communities — representing more than 6 million people — have a default electricity product with more than 90% carbon-free energy.”
No one can say that in NM. But it is not just in California, that Local Choice Energy or Community Choice Aggregation, as it is sometimes called, is transforming the energy environment across the nation.
Why LCE or Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Works!
The UCLA study found that….
CCAs can provide cleaner electricity at a lower rate than IOUs for number of reasons, despite being smaller and therefore having less of an economies of scale advantage.
- First, the price of renewable energy has dropped rapidly over the last few decades, enabling CCAs to purchase it at a lower price. IOUs bought long-term renewable energy contracts prior to the launch of CCAs, when renewable energy was more expensive.
- Second, as not-for-profit entities, CCAs have no shareholders, less overhead. and no multi million dollar salaries for execs. Some note that non-profit status also gives LCEs the advantage of cheaper financing.
- Third, CCAs have an active market incentive to bargain harder to keep costs low. IOUs can actually profit more by passing through unnecessary or especially high costs to customers, so they have less of an incentive to keep costs low. Finally, many CCAs choose to invest a portion of net revenues into rate stabilization funds. These factors combine to create a cost advantage for CCAs in California that allows them to procure higher amounts of renewable energy while remaining competitive.
- Another way CCAs can provide additional value to customers is through offering local energy programs that support both environmental goals and customer retention, an important factor for a CCA’s financial health. CCAs `have invested in a number of such innovative local energy programs. These typically provide financial and/or environmental benefits to customers and the community. They include rooftop solar and battery energy storage incentives, electrification, energy efficiency incentives, electric vehicle rebates, education, and more.
In NM, our IOUs routinely oppose, weaken or delay efforts to generate more renewables or conserve energy, e.g. court efforts to stall community solar after years of opposing the legislation.LCE’s would be legitimate renewable energy champions, while NM’s IOUs only support renewables in brochures and commercials. It is worth noting that only last year, PNM raised concerns of potential brownouts, surfacing their “go to” solution-fossil fuels: asking to maintain San Juan Generating Station beyond its scheduled July 1 closure date.
Despite historically opposing each other in the policy arena, the UCLA report found that “in most all of the CCE communities, CCE providers work collaboratively and cooperatively with local investor-owned utilities who continue to provide consolidated billing, transmission, and distribution of electric power to their shared customers.”
More About the Rates
In California, CCAs offer rate-payers different rate options depending upon the proportion of renewable energy in their mix. But without even going into the weeds on different plan options, note how much lower, CCA rates are when compared with the competing IOUs. Note for example, how at each plan option, CCA rates hover around $.10 a kilowatt hour, while IOU rates at each elvel are all north of $.30 per kilowatt hour. That is not a small difference.
- CCA rates in California with Clean Power Alliance (includes 32 cities, Los Angeles and Ventura counties).
- default product of 40% clean power ($0.10496 /kWh )
- opt-up product of 50% clean power ($0.10804 /kWh )
- opt-up product of 100% renewable energy ($0.11727 /kWh )
- ● Utility rates in California (SCE):
- SCE: Default Rate $0.31391 /kWh
- SCE Green Rate 50% Renewable: $0.30839 /kWh
- SCE Green Rate 100% Renewable: $0.30287 /kWh
- AVCE Core choice: $0.31053 /kWh
- VCE MORE Choice 100% Renewable: $0.31053 /kWh
The report goes on to conclude that: :
“With solar and wind energy prices declining rapidly, and fossil fuel prices becoming more and more volatile, CCE programs are emerging as promising cost-effective instruments to support the transition to sustainable energy and climate mitigation efforts.”
Just Published, University of Massachusetts Study Dispels IOU Misinformation
This study by a team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst focuses on opportunities and challenges associated with the implementation of Community Choice Energy (CCE) aggregation programs across Massachusetts municipalities.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study assessing in detail the performance of a CCE program in the United States by both analyzing market data as well as the self-reported experience of municipalities. The key results are the following:
“Administrative costs (after the creation of the CCE) and staffing capacity do not seem to be a constraint for municipalities. In fact, during interviews and focus groups, municipalities stated not having experienced any implementation obstacle related to administrative costs and staffing capacity.” Dispelling utility claims that jurisdictions can’t manage administrative challenges.
“CCE programs in Massachusetts provide numerous benefits including reduced rates, higher renewable energy levels, price stability and customer ownership and protection.” Dispelling utility claims that local economic development will falter due to higher rates and rate instability.
“Survey results indicate that about 80% of municipalities achieved savings by developing a CCE program. (This survey outcome matches the results of our market analysis, performed using publicly-available contract data from all municipalities in Massachusetts).” Underscoring the degree to which municipalities experience lower rates.
“Moreover, municipalities systematically reported obtaining additional benefits beyond their primary goal. For instance, among municipalities with “higher renewable energy levels” as their primary goal, the top three benefits reported include: “higher renewable energy levels” (83%), “reduced rates” (78%) and
“price stability” (65%).” These finings underscoring a cascading of benefits that are typical with CCA/LCE.
“We compared standard CCE package prices with monthly residential utility basic service rates for all municipalities with a CCE program as of July, 2021. Prices were compared from the beginning of the most recent CCE contract until October 2021.
UMass analysis indicates that
- “79% of municipalities achieved savings compared to utility’s monthly basic
service rates, with an average amount of savings corresponding to 0.88 cents per kWh (about 93 USD per household, per year). The savings for these municipalities amount to about $70,000,000 per year in total.” But over 1/3 of municipalities achieved even higher savings.
- “35% of municipalities achieved savings above 1 cents per kWh (about 106 USD per household, per year) and the maximum amount of savings corresponded to 2.55 cents per kWh (about 271 USD per household, per year).”
What’s more UMass analysis indicates that that those municipalities who move most quickly and fully to renewables enjoy even larger savings.,
- “89% of municipalities with a “green” standard CCE package (i.e., with a percentage of renewable energy certificates higher than the MA requirement) achieved an average amount of savings corresponding to 3.84 cents per kWh. The savings for these municipalities amount to about $33,500,000 per year in
In short, both the UMass and UCLA studies reached the same conclusions: While not without challenges, these challenges have easily been addressed and the rapid expansion of LCE/CCA is bringing rate relief to millions of customers while swiftly accelerating transition to renewable energy.
So how rapidly is LCE/CCA expanding? We turn to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) for more on this.
National Renewable Energy Lab Weighs In
“In this report, we seek to summarize the status of CCAs in the United States. We quantify CCA sales and customer bases by aggregating publicly-available data and CCA survey data. We summarize trends in CCA electricity portfolios with a focus on renewable energy procurement.” NREL found that energy choice is not a pipedream, but an effective, practical tool for increasing use of renewable energy, while ensuring lower rates for ratepayers. And, as consistent with both UCLA and UMass findings, energy aggregation is far from being an enviro fantasy, the model is expanding rapidly throughout the U.S.
“CCAs compose their electricity portfolios of numerous resources, including fossil fuel-based. generators as well as generators of renewable energy. We estimate that about 750 CCAs procured about 42 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity on behalf of about five million customers in 2017 in the eight states with CCA-enabling legislation: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia…. In addition to the eight states that already allow
CCAs, at least seven other states have considered allowing CCAs (Colorado, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah), and other states with restructured electricity markets could pass enabling legislation.”
Note that the 5 million customers was from 2017, the current number is far larger. In any case, the model could not continue to grow into other states and markets if it didn’t work. But the utility industry realizes it can’t defeat the LCE model with facts, they rely upon planting unsubstantiated seeds of doubt about the reliability of LCE renewable energy and the capacity of local jurisdictions to manage their own energy. Each in their own way, the reports dispel utility misinformation efforts.
What ‘s more, while the NM IOUs plant false seeds of doubt about grid reliability, it is good to recall that it was PNM who only last year was claiming that they needed to maintain San Juan Generating Station beyond its July 1 closure date, to ensure adequate power resources and to avoid brown outs last summer.
We encourage you to use this summary, to create your own message and share your support for SB 165, Local Choice Energy Act with your legislator and with members of Sen Judiciary Committee, its next committee stop. Brief speaking points and contact info for Sen. Judiciary members are provided after the Mountain View story on persistence that follows.
Sometimes Persistence Pays
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board approved a joint motion last week, to dismiss a request for a hearing on the merits for an air quality permit issued in October 2020 for New Mexico Terminal Services (NMTS) for a proposed hot mix asphalt batch plant that would have operated in the Mountain View neighborhood. The vote was unanimous last Wednesday, February 8.
The action taken by the Air Board ends a multi-year fight by community members in the Mountain View Coalition and attorneys from the New Mexico Environmental Law Center to prevent another polluting industry from setting up shop in a community primarily comprised of low-income people of color that has been designated by the EPA as an “environmental justice” community.
The Mountain View Coalition is made up of three groups that united to appeal the issuance of an air pollution permit to NMTS by the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department (EHD): Mountain View Neighborhood Association, Mountain View Community Action, and Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.
Community members organized for more than four years in an effort to prevent additional air pollution in the neighborhood and to protect community health. In spite of the many challenges of trying to organize during the Covid pandemic, the community increased the pressure on city and county officials to reverse the air pollution permit for New Mexico Terminal Services’ proposed asphalt plant at 9615 Broadway SE, just past the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, and north of Isleta Pueblo and I-25 as it heads west.
The Mountain View Coalition garnered more than 1,000 signatures to their petition (http://bit.ly/stoptheasphaltassault) addressed to elected officials to reverse the permit that EHD granted in October 2020. Coalition members mailed a postcard to all residents in Mountain View and the neighboring Pueblo of Isleta, and went door-to-door speaking with neighbors and sharing concerns. Friends of Valle de Oro created a StoryMap detailing the dozens of polluting industries already in the historic agricultural community (https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/df926541539f4c2c9d3aba77e58d17aa). They also published an OpEd in the Albuquerque Journal (https://www.abqjournal.com/2404174/is-citys-industrial-sacrifice-zone.html), made dozens of phone calls and hand-delivered letters to Mayor Keller, and held discussions with representatives from Isleta Pueblo that created a growing momentum of community members and allies fighting to protect the health and environment of Mountain View.
When you are right and work hard you sometimes win important battles. Well done Mountain View. You worked hard, persisted, protected your community and slew the bad guys. The grassroots organizing effort paid off. Persistence can yield results. The message: Stay Active, it is the only way we fix this mess.
Kudos to mountain View activists. You give us hope!
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Speaking points are straightforward. email and/or call your legislators and those listed below, members of the SJC, the last stop on the committee path before a Senate floor vote. To substantiate your points made with legislators, please send along a link to this post and encourage your legislator to review it. Our message:
- Ask the SJC to schedule and hear SB 165 Local Choice Energy as soon as possible;
- Ask legislators to ignore utility misinformation and consider that Local Choice Energy and/or Community Choice Aggregation programs collectively serve 1800 communities in 8 states with these communities almost universally save ratepayers money and transition to renewables far more quickly than investor owned utilities.
- According to studies conducted by UCLA and the Univ. of Massachusetts: These LCE communities enjoy lower rates, better price reliability, more reliable electricity provision and swifter transition to renewables.
- Passing legislation will only make it legal for local jurisdictions to choose to pursue Local Choice Energy, these communities will still need to approve choosing LCE over the existing IOU.
- BernCo Commission and Santa Fe County Commission unanimously voted to endorse Local Choice Energy because they see the economic and environmental benefits offered by LCE.
Senate Judiciary Contact Info
Meetings: Monday, Wednesday & Friday – 1:30 p.m. (Room 321)
- Chair: Joseph Cervantes (D). District 31 (Doña Ana). Room 319, 986-4861. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vice Chair: Katy M. Duhigg (D). District 10 (Bernalillo & Sandoval). Room 300B, 986-4726. Email: email@example.com
- Ranking Member: Cliff R. Pirtle (R). District 32 (Chaves, Eddy & Otero). Room 414D, 986-4369. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Member: Gregory A. Baca (R). District 29 (Bernalillo & Valencia). Room 109A, 986-4877. Email: email@example.com
- Member: Daniel A. Ivey-Soto (D). District 15 (Bernalillo). Room 320A, 986-4270. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Member: Mark Moores (R). District 21 (Bernalillo). Room 109C, . Email: email@example.com
- Member: Bill B. O’Neill (D). District 13 (Bernalillo). Room 300D, 986-4260. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Member: Mimi Stewart (D). District 17 (Bernalillo). Room 105A, 986-4734. Email: email@example.com
- Member: Peter Wirth (D). District 25 (Santa Fe). Room 119, 986-4727. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation, Uncategorized
History makes contemporary research unnecessary.
It shows that it has already been done and is still done now.
The people you want me to contact do not work for me, they work for big money.
I can not give them 100.000 votes because I don’t have $100.000.
We are all trapped in an Undemocratic Republic.
Some seem to have been better trapped than others and thus, continue to pursue the myths sold to them. Like believing we are in a Democracy and politicians represent ‘us the people’.