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by Jeff St. John
December 07, 2020

California’s community-choice aggregators are contracting large-scale renewables-plus-storage projects and building up behind-the-meter resources at a record clip, boosted by their clean energy priorities and a measure of flexibility in rolling out new customer programs that the state’s investor-owned utilities lack. 

That could allow the city and county entities that serve about one-quarter of the state’s electricity customers to help provide the grid reliability that California regulators are desperately seeking before next summer to forestall a repeat of this August’s rolling blackouts. 

But CCAs face similar barriers as utilities and project developers to quickly adding batteries to large-scale renewable energy projects, as well as uncertainty to their long-term grid value. They also contend with statewide policy disconnects that solar-battery aggregators and demand-response providers say are holding back the full potential of those distributed energy resources. 

It’s unclear whether a newly launched order instituting rulemaking from the California Public Utilities Commission, seeking proposals to enhance the state’s grid reliability by August 2021, will be able to spur efforts that can meet that deadline. But changes to how batteries and demand response are valued could help. 

So says an October letter to state lawmakers and regulators from the California Clean Resource Adequacy Coalition, a group of CCAs and vendors Tesla, Sunrun, Enel X, Voltus, Leap and OhmConnect.