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April 11, 2019

IN THE KNOW: Sustain SoCal 10th Anniversary Conference: Energy Infrastructure

Trend Alert! Meridian’s Director of Construction, Becky Dansker Provides Takeaways Regarding “Community Choice Aggregation”

“Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a non-profit organization that assists cities in managing low-energy solutions and sourcing “off-grid” energy solutions. CCA will draft policy recommendations and initiate programs to reduce overall energy usage. California law had made provisions for CCAs 10-years ago to allow local cities to plan for “off-the-grid” solutions. There is funding from the state to start CCAs at the local government level and there are currently 19 CCAs in California with the last 10 being added in just the last four years.

When cities establish a CCA, the customers (both Residential & Commercial users) participate in the overall cost to perform the study. It can be charged over time, and if the City chooses, can be capped at a certain amount per user. For example, the study, which can be $250,000 for the initial report, will be broken up as a fee divided by millions of energy-users when the plan goes live.

The deliverable for a CCA is a new energy plan. The body that will execute the plan is typically a management-based 3rd party consultant. That consultant will perform monitoring and tracking of the plan implementation to see if energy goals outlined are being met.

As a developer this is particularly important because CCAs will add another level of approvals and compliance to our projects. Since the CCA will recommend energy use and restrictions, there will eventually be a first-level of approval, followed by research required by the Developer before power requests are made. For example, if the CCA determines that new commercial Surgery Centers need to move away from gas-generators and find renewable back-up power instead, this will need to be part of the new building specifications before PGE or Edison will agree to service your project. In fact, I spoke with a contact at “Clean Brite” who said because OSHPD-1 has not caught-up with alternatives to generators in Richmond, CA he installed both a back-up generator and a renewable back-up at that Kaiser.

ADVICE: If you see CCA in the local governmental approval process, add money for additional cost-saving items required for the project. The additional dollars will fund more time needed for your Electrical Engineer to provide spec reviews with the CCA, as well as money for the Contractor to install additional energy-savings components inside the building itself.

Energy-efficiency will continue to become an increased concern for builders and developers in California as more local utilities start to take on their own policy-making to determine what is allowed and feasible for compliance. And such, efforts to be mindful of local policy changes should be questioned when going into these cities and proposing new projects.” – Becky Dansker, Director of Construction