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Calif. aggregators to seek up to 20 GW of renewable energy, storage by 2030

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Calif. aggregators to seek up to 20 GW of renewable energy, storage by 2030

As California's local government-run community choice aggregators take on a larger share of the responsibility for purchasing power in the state, they anticipate signing long-term contracts for up to 20,000 MW of renewable energy and energy storage by 2030, according to a spokesperson for the California Community Choice Association.

That would account for the vast majority of new resources that community choice aggregators, or CCAs, investor-owned utilities and other load-serving entities together must procure to meet the state's 2030 retail electricity target of 60% renewable energy and is roughly double CCAs' anticipated acquisitions from a year ago. Since November 2019, CCAs have added power purchase agreements for 1,700 MW of new renewable energy and 882.5 MW of battery storage, the spokesperson said.

The advocacy group, which represents nearly two dozen operational CCAs that purchase power for more than 10 million people, released data Nov. 12 showing that the power procurement agencies so far have amassed more than 6,000 MW of new renewables and electrochemical energy storage. That includes 3,860 MW of photovoltaic solar, nearly half of which is paired with lithium-ion battery storage systems.

"These new totals show that community choice energy providers are continuing to make great progress in securing the energy resources California needs to build a clean, affordable, and reliable electric system," Beth Vaughan, executive director of the group, known as CalCCA, said in a Nov. 12 statement.

The total capacity of long-term renewables and battery storage contracts has grown from 1,000 MW three years ago.

Deal-making deluge

In their most prolific year of deal-making to date, 17 CCAs collectively boosted their number of contracts to 117, up 54% from one year ago, for capacity scheduled to come online by 2023. MCE Clean Energy, the state's first CCA carved out of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s Northern California service territory in 2010, accounts for 38 of those contracts, the most of any CCA.

The most active buyer in terms of capacity, Clean Power Alliance, has accumulated roughly 1,400 MW of resources, including several large solar-plus-storage facilities. Clean Power Alliance launched in Southern California Edison Co.'s service territory in 2017. East Bay Community Energy, which purchases power for Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay area, has 702.8 MW under contract.

As a whole, CCAs purchase electricity for 28% of investor-owned utility demand in shared service arrangements with subsidiaries of PG&E Corp. and Edison International. The regulated utilities continue to physically supply the power the CCAs procure and also maintain customer billing responsibility. San Diego Community Power, a new CCA carved out of the service territory of Sempra Energy subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric Co., will begin purchasing power in 2021.

Including planned startups, CCAs will purchase power for 36% of regulated utility demand in 2022, CalCCA forecast. Under state law, CCAs assume responsibility for customers in the local government jurisdictions where they are formed, unless customers opt out.