Southern California Edison (SCE) has proposed 5 new Green Programs to the California Public Utilities Commission in an attempt to give customers options for directly tapping into and to support renewable electricity through their monthly electricity payments.
Replacing the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Programs
3 of the proposed programs give residential customers options for tapping into clean power through direct renewable generation, REC offsets and community solar programs. 2 of the programs give larger consumers options for cleaning up the footprint of their electricity consumption.
The new Green Energy Programs were proposed as the next generation of SCE’s existing Green Tariff Shared Renewables (GTSR) program on the premise that the GTSR was not able to effectively meet the needs of all customers based on the requirement that all program costs be absorbed by subscribers and not diluted into the broader SCE customer base.
SCE’s current GTSR program as it stands today gives customers options to procure green energy to offset 50% and 100% of their consumption and a more complex Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) plan for larger customers.
SCE has requested that the new Green Energy Programs be made available as soon as they are approved. It is, at the same time, seeking to sunset the older GTSR plans to make way for the new and improved offerings.
5 New Programs
The 5 new programs are below, from the filing with the California Public Utilities Commission:
- New Green Tariff – One-hundred percent of the customer’s energy needs are sourced by a portfolio of utility-scale renewables projects. Various aspects of the proposed tariff and cost recovery approach enable SCE to offer a rate that is expected to be more economic than the Green Tariff portion of the current GTSR program;
- Plus Green Tariff – SCE offsets the non-renewable portion of a participating customers’ load with the retirement of unbundled Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which match the non-renewable bundled energy SCE delivers to the participating customers. These customers will incur additional charges that cover the costs of the RECs;
- New Community Renewables – Electricity from a dedicated renewable energy generating facility will be procured to supply power to a defined community. One or more large business or government customers in the community must sponsor the facility and commit to purchase a minimum of 80 percent of the facility’s output, with the remainder made available to residential and small business customers in the community;
- Green Direct – Large business and government customers are supplied by a dedicated third-party renewable energy generating facility to meet some or all of their needs and renewable energy goals and pay the associated costs of the dedicated facility
- Customer-Controlled Renewables – SCE will offer Inter-Scheduling Coordinator Trades (ISTs) with large customers that are delivering renewable energy into the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) wholesale market and earning market revenues, and include those customers’ market revenues on their SCE bills as a bill credit.
CleanTechnica spoke with SCE’s green program lead, Jill Anderson, about the proposed programs and why she’s excited about the new offerings. The 5 new plans were crafted to give customers with different needs the option to directly purchase renewably generated electricity, she shared. This is especially important for customers in multi-family housing units or locations where they cannot install local renewables generation, like rooftop solar, on their property.
The new green tariff option allows customers to opt-in to a plan that ensures that 100% of their power is sourced directly from renewable production. Because the proposed new programs disconnect the requirement for SCE to recover all program expenses from program ratepayers, the rates are expected to be much closer to non-renewable rates for most customers.
Jill shared that some customers will even end up paying the same as they would on non-renewable rate plans though the majority should expect an increase. The pricing discrepancy highlights an opportunity for carbon taxes to put a price on the toll combustion-fired generation takes on our air quality and the additional carbon that is brought up to the surface and into our air, disrupting the carbon cycle.
We probed as to whether the new programs would simply monetize existing renewables assets by charging customers a premium for existing renewable production fed into SCE’s current mix or if it would truly result in incremental renewable capacity being installed. Jill shared that, “this will result in more capacity that is local,” especially for the new community solar program.
SCE’s new ‘Plus Green Tariff’ program provides more flexibility to the utility and provides offsets for any non-renewable portion of the customer load to be offset with Renewable Energy Credits. These units are disconnected from the actual kilowatt-hours of power and represent the fact that the power was generate from renewable sources. This coverage comes at a slight up charge versus SCE’s base rate to cover the cost
No Silver Bullet
The new programs were proposed by SCE to open up the ability for customers to opt-in to programs that allow customers to get their power from renewable sources at a rate that is more comparable to traditional rates than the GTSR rates. In doing so, the new program disconnects the requirement to absorb all of the costs associated with the program and renewable generation.
The new programs should ultimately be a good thing for the planet as it should result in an increase in renewable generation in SCE territory and bring in more revenue from customers to support the installation of more renewables, storage and infrastructure.