Oregon clean energy jobs bill: An economic engine and a decarbonization catalyst

by Silvio Marcacci, Forbes

2018’s “Green Wave” election has set the stage for Oregon to lead the United States on climate action in 2019 by enacting statewide cap-and-trade legislation and accelerating complementary policy in its biggest energy-consuming sectors.

Governor Kate Brown focused on climate action in her re-election campaign, and legislative leaders have added momentum to pass the state’s most significant climate policy opportunity – the Clean Energy Jobs Bill would cut emissions while generating hundreds of millions for statewide investments.

Read more:

“Creating the Clean Energy Future” – Symposium inspires innovation and camaraderie

by Niki Woodard, The Climate Center  |  March 9, 2016


Pictured above: Dawn Weisz (CEO Marin Clean Energy), Geof Syphers (CEO Sonoma Clean Power), Cathy DeFalco (Energy Manager, Lancaster Choice Energy), and Ann Hancock (Executive Director, The Climate Center)

Innovation, inspiration, and camaraderie emerged as themes defining
The Climate Center’s second Business of Local Energy Symposium,
held March 4, 2016. Titled “Creating the Clean Energy Economy,” the Symposium’s
keynote speakers and panel discussions focused on Community Choice energy and
how to optimize competition and choice for significant greenhouse gas
reduction, energy resiliency, and local economic gain.

The event was held in San Jose, California’s technology
innovation hub, and attracted a sold-out crowd of 350 people from all over
California, including 48 speakers who discussed Community Choice from diverse
perspectives and areas of expertise. The program was uniquely designed to inform

attendees along the
entire spectrum of Community Choice interests and expertise – those in the
early investigative stages, elected officials in the process of setting up a
program, and energy entrepreneurs developing technology to green the grid – to
spark creative discussions and innovative solutions.

Clean energy IS the future, and Community Choice is propelling
progress to meet carbon reduction goals at the speed and scale required. Today,
clean energy is a $1.4 trillion dollar global industry – almost twice the size
of the airline industry. Community Choice facilitates the public-private
partnership that ensures that the new clean energy economy is a revolution that
includes everyone.

With three plenary sessions and ten breakout panel
discussions, the Symposium’s content was remarkably rich. We look forward to
sharing more details with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we offer
some highlights from some of our speakers and attendees:

Galiteva, Board of Governors, California Independent System Operator, 
spoke about the
agility and ability of Community Choice programs to be progressive. She
suggested that programs can tackle the transportation and energy problems
together and suggested the idea of Community Choice programs giving customers
electric vehicles to promote vehicle-to-grid integration.

Peterman, Commissioner, California Public Utility Commission, 
spoke to the
contentious issue of the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) rate, essentially
an exit fee assessed on CCE customers, which she said is meant to serve as a
mechanism to keep customers indifferent to their energy provider. In response
to the “uniquely large volume of calls and letters” she received about the PCIA
rate increase, she encouraged participants to attend the PUC’s workshop on
March 8 to assess the fairness and effectiveness of the PCIA.

Ferron, Board of Governors, California Independent System Operator
board, spoke about today’s
positive energy trend to “decarbonize and decentralize.” He said that California
can “reduce its carbon output by regionalizing the grid.” While there are
regulatory and technical challenges to distributed generation like roof top
solar, he pointed to networked storage solutions like electric vehicles to
stabilize the grid. “I’m extremely optimistic about the future. We in
California are an example. As we work through the challenges, we can be a
guidestar for the rest of the nation.”

Weisz, CEO, Marin Clean Energy: 
“People are paying attention.
People are looking for solutions,” said Ms. Weisz said of the growth and
potential of Community Choice energy programs. Under her leadership, Marin
Clean Power, is preparing to launch a pilot program that incentivizes home
energy storage services for the grid.  

Syphers, CEO, Sonoma Clean Power: 
“To help the climate, you need
to not only add renewables, but you need to turn off the fossils.” Mr. Syphers
encouraged us to focus on the end goal of creating affordable energy that is
zero carbon and working backward from there – how do we get there? We need to
work together to get solutions off the ground and fuel switch at all levels of
human activity.

Klassen, Senior Strategic Advisor, Policy and Energy: 
As moderator on the Financing
panel, Mr. Klassen discussed the possibility of forming regional Joint Power
Authorities (JPA) that could aggregate several Community Choice operators and
make it easier to obtain financing. Ian Parker from Goldman Sachs agreed saying
that such an entity would reduce risk for institutional investors and make it
easier for them to lend.

Dolores Weller,
Director, Central Valley Air Quality Coalition,
said that she hopes that Community
Choice “can bring together unconventional partners” to meet the unmet needs of
residents in the Central Valley.

Vesser, Deputy Director for The Climate Center and organizer of
the event:
In his closing remarks, Mr. Vesser brought the energy discussion back to the looming threat of climate
change and our global challenge to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees
Celsius, or preferably, below 1.5 degrees. He commented on the historic Paris
agreement and called it an important first step. “Having admitted that we have
a problem is the first step in the biggest Twelve Step program that the world
has ever seen. The next is having a plan for recovery, no matter how

Not only was the event about creating a clean energy future,
but Symposium attendees generated their own energy in the room. The enthusiasm
and optimism circulating throughout the plenary sessions, breakout sessions,
and in the conversations between sessions was positively electrifying. If the
feedback that we’ve received from Symposium attendees is any indication of
action on the horizon, we have a lot to look forward to:

  • “Thank you for assembling such an expert
    and enthusiastic group and for such productive content.”
  • “A blueprint for the world!”
  • “Great job – very organized and timing was
    impressive. Lots of great information sharing.”
  • “I learned so much that I can bring back to
    my county as we consider and investigate CCAs.”
  • “Always so good, productive, fun and
    educational to get this community together. I also particularly appreciate the
    spirit of sharing, mutual support, collaboration that the CCP team imbues in
    the whole event.”
  • “Please do it again!”
  • “The work of not-for-profits like CCP and
    all of the CCAs is driving innovation in energy choice and technology finance –
    NOT Wall St.”
  • “A fabulous symposium…”

To all attendees, we reaffirm to you: it takes a village.
We are thankful to be working with you.


Pictured above: Break out panel discussion

Community Choice Takes Shape in Silicon Valley

By Barry Vesser, CCP  |  Nov. 12, 2015



San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra talks about his interest in Community Choice]

Momentum is building for Community Choice Energy (CCE) in
Silicon Valley. San Mateo aims to form a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), the
legal framework for a multi-municipality Community Choice program, in February
2016, and begin serving customers by fall 2016.
About 10 San Mateo cities are expected to join the county in forming the
JPA, with the remaining 10 joining later. 

In Santa Clara County, 3 cities – Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and
Cupertino – and the County are also forming a JPA. Nine additional, smaller
cities in the county are also considering joining. Santa Clara intends to begin
serving customers in the winter of 2016. The City of San Jose, due to its large
size relative to the other Silicon Valley local communities, will likely become
a single-city CCE, similar to the City of Lancaster, California’s third operational

The Climate Center’s role in helping spread
Community Choice in Silicon Valley has changed over time. We participated in many
workshops when Community Choice was first introduced to local policymakers, and
organized several forums for policymakers, staff, and businesses to share
lessons learned from Marin and Sonoma CCEs. We also worked extensively with
community activists.

Recently, our role has been more focused in San Jose. Last
month, the Center organized a business forum on Community Choice in San Jose.
It was hosted by Cisco Systems, co-hosted by SunPower and Recurrent Energy, and
moderated by former California Energy Commissioner Jeff Byron.

San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra, who spoke at the top
of the agenda, conveyed his clear interest in launching a CCE program in San
Jose, and asked the business community for their help to make it happen.

Joe Como, the Director of the California Division of Rate
Payer Advocates, provided a historical context for development of CCEs. He
explained that CCEs give communities more control over their energy supplies
and allow them to make investments in local energy infrastructure that create
jobs in the community.

Alex DiGorgio from Marin Clean Energy, the longest-operating
CCE in the state, emphasized that their rates are lower than PG&E’s, and
that they are offering 50% renewable energy to their customers compared with
PG&E’s 27%. In 2015 Marin Clean Energy saved customers an estimated $10.6

The forum closed with a business panel moderated by Don Bray
from Joint Venture Silicon Valley. Joe Carroll, Facilities Engineer at Keysight
Technologies, a large measurement technology company that spun off from Agilent,
said that the company saved about $300,000 in the first year with Sonoma Clean
Power. Matt Duesterberg, CEO of Ohmconnect, said that CCEs appear to be more
agile than traditional utilities, and so more able to take advantage of new
services offered by startup companies like his. Ohmconnect is conducting a
pilot program for Sonoma Clean Power to help residential customers reduce
energy use when rates are high.

In 2016, Silicon Valley will likely have two new CCEs that include as many as 30 cities. California as a whole benefits from the addition of new CCEs and the lessons  from each start-up’s approach. We will watch with great interest as Silicon Valley, the hub of innovation, uses CCE’s game-changing platform in their unique way.


[CCP Executive Director, Ann Hancock, talking about the benefits of Community Choice. From left to right: Jeff Byron, former California Energy Commissioner; Alex DiGiorgio, Marin Clean Energy; Ann Hancock; and Don Bray, Joint Venture Silicon Valley.]

Barry Vesser is the Deputy Director for The Climate Center and manages the Business for Clean Energy network. He can be reached at