AB 327: Beyond Net Metering in California

By Rosana Francescato

At a recent Local Clean Energy Alliance event in Oakland, Brad Heavner, Policy Director for the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), gave the scoop on what’s happening next with net metering in California and talked about the implications of AB 327, signed into law last year.

Initially, solar advocates opposed the bill. But without AB 327, net metering, which has resulted in several thousand megawatts of installed solarPV in California, would have expired at the end of 2014. The bill preserves net metering into 2017, but it contains a number of other more controversial provisions. As a result, reactions to the bill have been mixed.

But most importantly, AB 327 leaves the future of net metering up in the air.

4th Annual Clean Power, Healthy Communities Conference: A Powerful Gathering

On October 17th, 2013, 170 community leaders and renewable energy advocates representing 90 organizations convened at the California Endowment’s Conference Center in downtown Oakland for the fourth annual Clean Power, Healthy Communities Conference, hosted by the Local Clean Energy Alliance. Photographs of the Conference as well as videos of the sessions are available on the Local Clean Energy Alliance’s Conference website.

350 Bay Area Campaigns Confront the Fossil Menace

The last several months have witnessed an intensified opposition to fossil fuel expansion in the Bay Area. Lobbying the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and urging public institutions to divest fossil fuel company holdings are two of six campaigns that are being organized by 350 Bay Area a local, grassroots spin-off of 350.org, the international effort to return atmospheric Carbon Dioxide to 350 parts per million

Leaders of these two 350 Bay Area campaigns were featured presenters at the Local Clean Energy Alliance monthly meeting on May 28.

SWITCH –Off This Movie!

It is very important in the overwhelming avalanche of news and documentary sources that we receive on energy issues that we carefully scrutinize the sources of that information before we let them guide our thinking.

The case of the film, Switch is a prime example of this.

Switch is subtle and effective fossil-fuel industry propaganda. It pretends to support clean energy while subtly shifting the viewer's attention away from truly renewable strategies to accepting that fossil fuels, biofuels, nuclear, and other harmful sources will inevitably play a role in fulfilling future energy needs. In reality, the movie serves to slow down the transition to clean energy solutions and perpetuate fossil-fuel industry profits as long as possible.

Net metering: A net positive for California

As Susannah Churchill of Vote Solar explains, net metering “allows customers who install solar or other clean energy to get fair credit on their power bills for the energy they feed back to the grid.” The question, though, is what constitutes “fair credit,” and whether net metering customers are passing on to other customers an unfair burden of utility transmission and distribution charges.

This question was the main topic at the Local Clean Energy Alliance’s well-attended April 24 program on how California values solar PV.

FiT for California?

At the March meeting of the Local Clean Energy Alliance, Ted Ko from the Clean Coalition (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now) discussed barriers to the development of distributed electricity generation in California and other programs advocated by the Clean Coalition.

An energy future for California that is based on small-scale, local renewable energy generation could speed the transition to clean energy. Additional benefits include creating jobs and boosting the economy, providing stable utility rates and resilient sources of energy. Recognizing these benefits, Governor Brown called for the development of 12,000 megawatts of local renewable generation by 2020.

Yet progress has been slow at the state level. Where’s the hold up?

California? No Fracking Way!!

The extraction and burning of California's Monterrey/Santos oil shale deposit would set back by 80 years the targeted reduction of carbon dioxide under the state's Global Warming Solutions Act.*

This was but one of many revelations provided on February 26, 2013 by leaders of the growing opposition to fracking in California. With up to 15 billion barrels of oil estimated to be in California’s Monterey/Santos shale formation, fracking--the latest and most environmentally destructive oil extraction technology--is set to boom in our state.

* See Doing the Math....

Organizations Call on Brown to Oppose Fossil-Fuel Power Plants

The Local Clean Energy Alliance and twenty-six other organizations throughout California have signed on to a letter urging Governor Brown to oppose California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) recent approval of the Oakley gas-fired power plant in Contra Costa County, and stop the pending approval of other fossil fuel-based power plants in southern California.

These projects frustrate attempts to curb greenhouse gas production in California and undercut California’s ambitious renewable energy goals; goals that have been championed by Governor Brown.

East Bay MUD Abandons Exploration of Community Choice Energy

At its much-anticipated board meeting on Tuesday, December 11, East Bay MUD’s Board of Directors disappointed clean energy advocates by voting to discontinue further exploration of an East Bay Community Choice energy program. The decision came despite evident community backing for the agency to take leadership in establishing a Community Choice program.

Much of that community support was mobilized through the efforts of the Clean Energy and Jobs Oakland campaign, which will continue its efforts to establish Community Choice in the East Bay despite the vote. The campaign has been reaching out since July to Oakland community organizations and businesses, and to city council candidates and incumbent members regarding the benefits that could come from a Community Choice program. Representatives from many of these groups appeared and spoke at the Board meeting or wrote letters to the East Bay MUD directors in favor of moving forward with Community Choice.

November General Meeting –Greg Pahl on Community Power

The November general meeting of the Local Clean Energy Alliance featured Greg Pahl, author of Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects. Greg has written numerous books and articles on energy and has been involved in environmental issues for over 30 years.

Greg gave an engaging presentation on local clean energy projects to an audience of 25 people. He emphasized the need for community involvement, given that the government is not doing enough to respond to climate change. And he noted that communities are a natural fit for these projects, because unlike corporations, whose goal is profit, communities are motivated by serving the public good.


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