Jon Abendschein is the Resource Planner in the Resource Management Division of the City of Palo Alto Utilities. He spoke this afternoon with Etopia News about that Silicon Valley city’s adoption of a CLEAN (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now) program, under which city residents and businesses will be able to sell renewably-generated electricity to the municipally-owned utility under standard contracts for a set period of time.
According to the City of Palo Alto website:
“Palo Alto CLEAN (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now) is a program to purchase electricity generated by solar electric systems located in CPAU’s service territory, which coincides with the city boundaries. Programs like this, known in the industry as "feed-in tariff" programs, involve a utility paying a fixed price (tariff) for the power that is "fed into" their electric grid from local generation systems.
"Description of Palo Alto's Program
"The program will unfold over multiple years, but in the first year, 2012, it will involve the purchase of up to 4 MW of capacity from solar resources located in Palo Alto. In this first year there will be a minimum project size of 100 kW. The purchase prices the City will pay are as follows:
o 20-year contract: 14.003 ¢/kWh
o 15-year contract: 13.216 ¢/kWh
o 10-year contract: 12.360 ¢/kWh
“The City will begin accepting applications on April 2, 2012 and will award contracts at the end of each month, with the first contracts awarded on May 1, 2012.”
Mr. Abendschein said that the adoption of this CLEAN/FIT program was the result of “a lot of interest over the last few years.” The annual goal of 4MW set for 2012 will be reviewed at the end of the year, and new goals will then be set for subsequent years, according to the utility official.
The City of Palo Alto has adopted a municipal RPS (renewable portfolio standard) of 33% renewables by 2015. The State of California has a similar 33% standard, but won’t require it to be in place until 2020.
Abendschein mentioned that the CLEAN Coalition had kept close track of the program, had provided a lot of feedback, and had spoken to staff and policymakers about it.
Eight members of the nine-person Palo Alto City Council were in attendance on March 5th when the measure was adopted by a unanimous vote, he said.
Because the cost of the CLEAN program will be about “equal to the utility’s ‘avoided cost,’ there will be little or no ratepayer impact” from the adoption of this new arrangement, according to Abendschein.
He concluded by saying that “We’re trying to be creative and see to what extent we can get some of our energy from our own rooftops here in Palo Alto. That’s something we can all get excited about.”