PRPA and Green Mountain Power Plan for 100% Renewables by 2030

Platte River Power Authority in Ft. Collins, Estes Park, Longmont, and Loveland CO plans on 100% renewables by 2030. 

There are three residential projects in Fort Collins that are exploring the intersection between Zero Energy Ready Home energy efficiency standards, solar, storage and DERMS (distributed energy resource management systems) in very creative ways. I thought you should all know about these projects. They may create templates for new construction standards in the our region. If they do, that would be a significant contribution towards helping PRPA achieve its 100% RE goals.

The fourth project described below is a pilot program launched by Green Mountain Power in Vermont that installs Tesla batteries in homes in place of smart meters – an interesting possibility for PRPA communities that have lagged behind the early adopter, Fort Collins, and could allow them to leap-frog smart meters and go directly to a behind-the-meter storage system instead.
All you demand side management enthusiasts out there please take note!
1)  REVIVE in Fort Collins (completed)
    • 73 units planned, 37 townhomes completed
    • Meets the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) standard for energy efficiency, indoor air quality and water use. Homes built to the 2018 IECC code might get a HERS rating of around 55, on the good end.  ZERH houses tend to score around 48-55 on the HERS scale. The air exchange rate (a measure of how tight the thermal boundary is) for a 2018 code house is 3.0 ACH50; Revive houses scored around half that, 1.5 ACH50 (see slide below).
    • No gas; every unit has geothermal wells and solar
    • After one year of occupancy, the 37 townhomes produce 97% of energy consumed
    • Average up-front cost of meeting ZERH standard with geothermal + large solar array (the size of the array varies depending on the orientation of the home) = $27K
    • Average energy savings compared to same house built to 2015 IECC code =  $200/mth or $72,000 over a 30-year mortgage (see slide below).
2)  Waterfield  (planning phase)
    • 500 units (a Colorado firm, THRIVE, is the builder)
    • Will meet ZERH standard, will include solar and behind-the-meter (BTM) storage
    • Intending to be all-electric homes – no natural gas infrastructure
    • 10% affordable units
    • Partnering with NREL to install and test a DERMS system (Distributed Energy Resource Management System) so that the homes with BTM storage can communicate and interact with the grid.
3)  Montava  (planning phase)
    • 4,000 units (THRIVE is one of the builders for Montava; MANDALAY from Arizona is another)
    • Will meet the ZERH standard
    • Is considering all-electric houses with no natural gas infrastructure (this has not been finalized); might do geothermal (not finalized); will do solar.
    • Montava has hired one of the best New Urbanism design firms in the country, DPZ. They are looking at doing 10% of the units as traditional affordable housing – meaning units priced for families that make 80% of the area median income (AMI) and below – and adding smaller footprint homes to target the ‘missing middle” or workforce housing, families making 80-120% of AMI.
    • Mandalay will build one third of the Montava project.  They will bring a system they developed in Arizona whereby every home has solar and BTM storage. In AZ, Mandalay struck a deal with their utility, APS. APS gives them a special low rate for non-peak electric use that is about 40% of the normal rate and Mandalay signs a contract saying none of their homes will draw power from the grid during peak hours, 3-8pm. The solar array that is offered is sized to recharge the BTM batteries. Homeowners can increase the size of the solar array if they want. BTM batteries are used for on-peak demand. This system has been tried and tested in Arizona. Mandalay likes it – they say they make money from it and are ready to deploy this system in Colorado.
4)  Green Mountain Power
    • GMP, an investor owned utility, offers its customers two Tesla powerwall batteries for a flat fee of $30/mth in place of a smart meter. The Tesla batteries provide the utility all the data and analytics a smart meter would, and the battery is able to interact with the grid in a much more dynamic, interactive way than a smart meter can.
    • GMP customers with Tesla batteries have the option of signing-up for a flat per monthly charge for all of their energy use based on nine tiered use categories (chart below)
    • GMP has deployed 2,000 Tesla batteries in recent years. They expect to add 1,000 new homes with this program
    • Last year during a heat wave, the 2,000 batteries now in the field enabled GMP to save customers about $500,000 from reduced peak energy use.
    • The current program is expected to save ratepayers $3M over the life of the program
Additional information:
Mandalay project in AZ:
Green Mountain Power + Tesla
Green Mountain Power rate chart:

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 12.38.20 PM.png

Revive energy efficiency comparison:

REVIVE Code Comp.png

Revive ZERH costs and savings comparison. (The first $17K figure include geothermal. The average cost for meeting the ZERH without geothermal or solar is $4-5K and is expected to save homeowners about $400/yr):

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 12.47.13 PM.png

Green Mountain Power, which serves nearly ¾ of all utility customers in Vermont, is ramping up its plans to use only renewable power by 2030. The company has been a leader among US utilities when it comes to addressing the emissions created by generating electricity by conventional means.

Tesla Powerwall renewable energy Green Mountain Power

Starting in 2017, it offered many of its customers the option of installing a Tesla Powerwall residential battery for just $30 a month. One installed, the batteries were networked to act as distributed grid storage for the company. During a heat wave last summer that saw a spike in energy demand, the company was able to draw on the electricity stored in all those batteries to meet peak demand. It says it was able to save $500,000 in the process because it did not have to purchase more expensive electricity from peaker plants.

Now Green Mountain Power says it wants to accelerate its move to 100% renewable energy so that it gets to zero emissions no later than 2030. “There is so much we can accomplish together in Vermont to cut carbon, and at the same time increase reliability for customers in the face of increasingly frequent and severe storms. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, we have to act now, and take bold steps to cut carbon,” Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power, said this week.

“The report issued in October of 2018 shows we have just 12 years to bend back the curve on carbon. Green Mountain Power is determined that through innovation, collaboration and grit, we can make remarkable strides and be the example of the change we want to see and deliver this energy future to benefit the customers we serve.”

The plan calls for achieving 100% carbon free energy by 2025 and 100% renewable by 2030. The company will host a series of events to educate customers about all of the existing technologies available to them to transition to a cleaner, affordable and resilient future.

“As a customer-obsessed energy company, we’ve delivered on our promise to help customers transition to a community-, home-, and business-based energy system that is greener and more resilient through energy storage options like home batteries, and options for charging electric vehicles,” Powell added. “Our partnerships with Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont renewable energy community have been, and will continue to be, critical to making this happen for Vermonters. Our new vision is the next step.”

Part of that vision is an expansion of the residential storage battery program in partnership with Tesla. 2000 Vermonters have already taken advantage of the Powerwall program. “Our vision — our dream — is that there ends up being a battery in every home and business,” Mary Powell said this week. Her company has also supported the adoption of electric cars with a $10,000 rebate for drivers who buy a new Nissan LEAF.

The obvious question is, if Green Mountain Power can do this, why aren’t other utility companies offering similar programs? Yes, giving the utility company control over your Powerwall might sound scary, but with advanced algorithms coupled to weather prediction services, the odds of being left with no juice in your battery when you need it are small.

Kudos to Green Mountain Power for taking an affirmative stance regarding the threat of climate change in a way that helps rather than hurts the bottom line. Hopefully, executives at other utility companies will learn more about what this company is doing and decide to follow suit.


California Aggregators To Seek 10 GW Of Clean Power By 2030

May 1st, 2019 by 

California’s Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) are slowly assuming the traditional utility role of acquiring renewable energy generation for customers. While the role is fairly new, the CCAs nonetheless are now faced with the massive task of securing 9 to 10 gigawatts of new clean energy to meet the state’s 2030 ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

This procurement role for the CCAs was fortified on April 25, when a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) vote that requires CCAs to develop Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) as a roadmap of future demand and procurement planning.

“In our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) decision, we set out the optimal 2030 portfolio of supply- and demand-side resources needed to achieve our state’s ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets within the electric sector. Under Senate Bill (SB) 350, the portfolio also must ensure reliable electricity at lowest cost to ratepayers,” wrote Commissioner Liane M. Randolph, in a CPUC blog on April 25.

California load serving entities’ clean energy procurement plans. Source CalCCA

The CPUC vote also strengthens CCAs in the state. “The new IRP reflects a seismic shift in procurement responsibility to CCAs as customer load continues to migrate from Investor-Owned Utilities to local, not-for-profit community choice energy programs,” said Beth Vaughan, executive director of the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA), in a statement. “The plan shows CCAs are committed to advancing new, cost-effective, clean energy resources at the scale and speed California requires,” she added.

The policy goals of SB 350 include: reductions in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions commensurate with economy-wide reductions of 40% from 1990 levels by 2030; a Renewables Portfolio Standard of 50 percent by 2030; and energy efficiency, storage, vehicle electrification, and other electricity resources, according to the CPUC.

The bill also would authorize the CPUC “to consider a multiyear centralized resource adequacy mechanism, among other options, to most efficiently and equitably meet specified resource adequacy objectives,” the bill reads. The Senate passed the bill on April 25, after which it was sent to the Assembly.

CCAs will be responsible for about 90% of the energy procurement that will be needed by 2030 to meet the SB 350 target, CalCCA says. While the aggregators plan to make long-term investments in more than 10 GW of new clean energy resources including solar, wind, geothermal, and energy storage by 2030, Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) and commercial Energy Service Providers (ESPs) plan to invest in approximately 1 GW of new resources combined, CalCCA has determined. CCAs are the load-serving entities (LSEs) “with the vast majority of planned new resource purchases through 2030,” according to the CPUC.

Given the small size and short operating history of the CCAs, several of the organizations are banding together to acquire energy supply contracts. For example, Silicon Valley Clean Energy is working with Monterey Bay Community Power for a joint request for proposal for 800,000 MWh of annual carbon-free energy to help achieve RPS and reliability needs, according to Monica Padilla, Director of Power Resources at SVCE.

Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a community-owned agency serving the majority of Santa Clara County communities, acquiring clean, carbon-free electricity on behalf of more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates low and promote clean energy programs. Member jurisdictions include Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, and unincorporated Santa Clara County.

Monterey Bay Community Power is a Community Choice Energy agency established by local communities to source carbon-free electricity for Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties, and now San Luis Obispo county. As a locally controlled not-for-profit, MBCP is not taxpayer funded and supports regional economic vitality by providing cleaner energy at a lower cost, supporting low-income rate payers, and funding local renewable energy projects.

Launched in 2016, the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) represents California’s community choice electricity providers before the state Legislature and at regulatory agencies, advocating for a level playing field and opposing policies that unfairly discriminate against CCAs and their customers. There are currently 19 operational CCA programs in California serving approximately 10 million customers.