During the months of May and June, the counties of Kings and Tulare along with the cities of Hanford, Kerman, Corcoran, Kingsburg, Clovis, Dinuba, Selma, Lemoore, Parlier, Sanger and Reedley elected to take the final steps to proceed with Community Choice. The City of Fresno is expected to take action on July 17, 2007.
For Valley residents and businesses within the boundaries of the participating communities, this means they will have the chance to choose between remaining full customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) or Southern California Edison (SCE) or enrolling in the Community Choice program and receiving electrical generation from the San Joaquin Valley Power Authority (Authority) at lower and more stable rates.
"This Community Choice program is all about choice: choice for the customer and choice for our cities and counties. The councils' actions allow for customers to have that choice in electrical generation," said Thomas Haglund, deputy city manager of Hanford and chair of the Authority.
Implementation is expected to start in November 2007, serving all municipal facilities within the Community Choice service area. The program will phase in various customer classes over a year, making it fully operational in November 2008 by offering the benefits of the program to all customers within the service area.
"The Kings River Conservation District is pleased to have seen the city councils and county boards demonstrate strong leadership in moving forward Community Choice," said David Orth, KRCD general manager and Authority program manager.
Participation in Community Choice is completely voluntary. As provided by law, all customers will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they affirmatively elect to opt out. All current PG&E and SCE customers within the Authority's service area will receive information describing the program and will have multiple opportunities to express their desire to remain with PG&E or SCE, in which case they will not be enrolled in the Community Choice program.
The businesses and residents of the participating municipalities will be able to take advantage of the following Community Choice benefits once the program comes on line:
- Cost savings, estimated at $780 million for the region over an 18-year period;
- Stable and predictable rates for customers;
- Increased generation reliability in the central San Joaquin Valley;
- Opportunity to choose an energy provider;
- Regional empowerment to make decisions and plan for the future regarding energy issues that affect our businesses and residents; and
- Value added to the region through the development of new, local renewable energy projects, like solar, wind, biomass and small hydro.
For more information about the Authority's program, visit www.communitychoice.info.
Proposed Community Power Plant 25% below New Greenhouse Gas Standards
On May 23rd, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved regulations that limit the purchase of electricity from power plants that fail to meet strict greenhouse gas emissions standards.
By using state-of-the-art technology to supply clean energy to the Valley, the proposed KRCD Community Power Plant, a natural gas-fired, base-load power plant, will be 25 percent below these strict standards to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
"Working with the Legislature, the Governor has demonstrated a clear vision with this first-in-the-nation legislation to reduce emissions," said CEC Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. "His bold leadership is helping to reduce California's carbon footprint by ensuring a clean supply of electricity," continued Pfannenstiel.
The implementation of SB 1368 is part of the CEC's further implementation of AB 32 (Nunez), a landmark bill signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that calls for California to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by 25 percent by 2020.
New regulations, as part of SB 1368 (Perata), prohibit the state's publicly owned utilities from entering into long-term financial commitments with plants that exceed 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.
The CEC, in collaboration with the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Air Resources Board, established greenhouse gas emission performance standards for power plants by evaluating existing combined-cycle, natural gas-fired, base-load power plants across the West.
KRCD Announces Zero Emission Solar Power Plan
The Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) and Cleantech America, LLC (Cleantech) have entered into a multi-year agreement for Cleantech to provide up to 80 megawatts (MW) of utility scale, emission-free, peak solar power to the San Joaquin Valley Power Authority (Authority).
"The promise of Community Choice is to have local control of our energy destiny. This means providing a choice of energy providers, stable and predictable rates, and valued added to the region through the development of new, local renewable energy sources like utility-scale photovoltaic solar which is generated within our service area, close to our energy load," said David Orth, KRCD general manager. "Developing 80 MW of clean energy from the sun would take us a long way to achieving these goals while demonstrating the value of Community Choice," continued Orth.
Under the plan, KRCD and Cleantech will develop renewable solar energy for Community Choice customers throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Upon full build-out, KRCD's Community Choice Solar Farm would be the nation's largest utility scale photovoltaic facility by far, providing reliable, cost-effective green energy to Valley residents and businesses.
"This is a visionary step by Kings River Conservation District. The extraordinary economies of scale which can be achieved by facilities of this magnitude would have a dramatic effect on helping solar energy achieve grid parity," said Bill Barnes, CEO of Cleantech. "Solar on this scale would unquestionably attract many solar manufacturing, fabrication and related jobs to the San Joaquin Valley, and further promote the region's growing image as California's 'Solar Valley.' And because in-grid zero emission solar provides peak power when it is needed most, during the hottest times of day during the hottest times of the year, it supports increased generation reliability in the region,' added Barnes.
The memorandum of understanding calls for the facility to be developed in phases of 10 MW in 2009, 30 MW in 2010 and 40 megawatts in 2011, for a total of 80 MW. Currently, the largest announced facility in the U.S. is a 15-MW solar plant at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
The beneficial air quality impacts of the plan are significant. The avoided climate change emissions for an 80-MW solar farm are the equivalent to removing over 20,000 cars from the road [Source: U.S. Climate Technology Cooperation Gateway].