Agriculture + Environment

Panel explores community choice energy for Davis

By From page A1 | June 07, 2012

Special to The Enterprise

Now that Yolo County has approved studying formation of a Community Choice Aggregation agency for the county, Davis must consider whether to join the move.

For Davis, the answer was “yes” for joining SMUD when that was on the ballot a few years ago. But Community Choice Energy is not exactly the same thing.

A public workshop will explore Community Choice Energy, which amounts to an independent electric utility, for Davis from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at the Davis Senior Center, 646 A St.

Featured speakers are experts on CCA. They are:

* Bill Powers, a consulting engineer who authored the Bay Area Smart Energy Plan, 2020;

* Bill Julian, a legislative consultant who worked on the state legislation that enabled formation of local CCAs; and

* Shawn Marshall, a former Marin County mayor who was instrumental in forming the successful CCA, Marin Clean Energy.

The workshop is being organized by the Cool Davis Foundation, Valley Climate Action Center, and the city’s Natural Resources Commission.

The Yolo County scoping study of CCA, led by the county’s climate change consultant John Mott-Smith, has shown that local control of the county’s energy future is both feasible and necessary to achieve the county’s adopted climate action goals. It would be important to achieving in Yolo County the kind of greenhouse gas reductions that the plan requires.

Powers’ Bay Area Smart Energy Plan shows:

* A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 60 percent from the electricity sector, or 12 million tons per year.

* 25 percent of Bay Area homes and businesses would be “zero net energy,” through efficiency or creating the power they need on-site, leading to huge energy cost savings;

* Tens of thousands of new jobs building the energy infrastructure of the future; and

* Electricity cost stability in an era of projected rising prices.

These goals match well with those proposed for Davis in the recent Net Zero Davis study of UC Davis Energy Institute and the Valley Climate Action Center. Gerald Braun, associate director of the UC Davis Energy Institute, will summarize the Net Zero Davis study.

“The big selling point for Community Choice Energy,” according to Powers, “is electricity price stability. We are looking at an increase of 45 percent by 2020, according to PG&E’s own estimates. A lot of this will come from load dropping, because of energy efficiency and customer-produced solar power, in the face of huge utility investments in smart meters, huge remote wind and solar projects, and transmission lines.”

Community Choice Energy, Powers says, could keep prices down by relying on local sources of energy – through efficiency, local solar power and combined heating and cooling installations that recover waste heat and could use local waste biogas.

Mark Braly

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