Large-scale developer 8minute Solar Energy said this week it had signed power-purchase agreements with two Northern California community-choice aggregators for a 250-megawatt solar project located in the state, including 150-megawatt hours of energy storage.
8minute, which develops solar and storage, has already inked deals for projects with all of California’s large investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Electric & Gas. But the project announced this week is the developer’s first foray in the world of CCAs, which have increasingly pulled customers and thus demand from California’s traditional utilities.
Offtakers Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) have now worked together on seven renewables projects, five of which are solar-plus-storage. The CCAs announced two solar and storage projects built by NextEra and First Solar earlier this month. In April the two CCAs published a joint request for proposals seeking 2 million more megawatt-hours of energy delivered between 2021 and 2024, which also closed this week.
California’s CCAs — also called community-choice energy providers — have become a major driver of renewable procurement in the state as large investor-owned utilities have already met renewables commitments required by California’s renewable portfolio standard. Under California law, utilities must get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by the end of 2020.
Both MBCP and SVCE offer customers entirely “carbon-free” electricity, which includes renewables as well as sources such as large hydro. The 8minute project will serve between 7 and 8 percent of MBCP's total retail load, expected to hit 400,000 customers next year, and 6.6 percent of SVCE's load.
MBCP, which competes with PG&E for customers, currently gets 34 percent of its power from renewable energy — mostly geothermal, followed by solar — and plans to “meet or exceed” California’s renewable portfolio standard, spokesperson Shelly Whitworth told Greentech Media.
While CCAs generally work to win customers by undercutting utility prices, MBCP also offers a 100-percent-renewable electricity option, divided between wind and solar, for its customers willing to pay a premium. SVCE customers can choose between 50 percent and 100 percent renewables.
California’s crop of CCAs has so far signed more than 3.6 gigawatts of power-purchase agreements serving more than 10 million customers, according to CCA member trade group the California Community Choice Association.