California’s first Community Choice Aggregation program MCE voted last week to commit $3 million to support resiliency projects for its customers. This major new investment is focused on funding local resiliency efforts in MCE’s four-county service area, specifically for critical facilities and sites serving vulnerable customers.
This $3 million commitment is in addition to MCE’s current $2+ million Local Renewable Energy & Program Development Fund, which has supported creation of 12 local renewable projects in MCE’s service area. These projects are now delivering approximately 25 megawatts of energy capacity—enough energy to power 12,000 homes annually.
MCE has already begun extensive outreach with Offices of Emergency Services, Public Health officials, and other community partners to identify the most critical sites and vulnerable communities to target for initial investments.
“MCE is committed to creating climate resilience within the communities we serve— building on our history of delivering community benefits and local energy projects,” said Dawn Weisz, CEO of MCE. “Our multi-pronged approach to resiliency will mirror the same best practices that we’ve relied on successfully over the past 10 years —leveraging strong community partnerships, focusing on vulnerable customers, and targeting our community investments to meet gaps and accelerate progress.”
The need for resilience
Since the first Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in June, 2019, MCE has been developing a comprehensive approach to supporting resiliency for communities and vulnerable customers. There have been six PSPS events this year that have impacted approximately 240,000 MCE customer accounts, or 50 percent of MCE’s accounts.
Other MCE resiliency initiatives underway:
• Hardening MCE’s San Rafael office to add energy storage and islanding capability onto its existing 80kW solar array and 10 public charging ports, allowing MCE’s site to function during power shutoffs, and provide electric vehicle charging and power to the building for public charging or other community needs.
• Adjusting MCE’s current rooftop solar program to include solar and storage incentives for existing solar customers.
• Identifying additional long-term investments MCE can make to reduce strain on the grid, including resource adequacy, demand reduction, and load shifting.
To oversee MCE’s resiliency and distributed energy program, Jim Baak recently joined MCE as Manager of Distributed Energy Resources. Baak is an experienced clean energy and electric utility industry professional with over 30 years of experience in the energy industry, including 14 years working in renewable energy, distributed energy resources, and behind-the-meter energy storage. Prior to MCE, Baak worked for STEM, and for public power agencies in North Carolina and Alameda, CA.
— Solar Builder magazine