San Jose Clean Energy, EDP Renewables sign large solar-plus-storage PPA

Aug 9, 2019 05:19 PM ET
San Jose Clean Energy (SJCE) and EDP Renewables SA (EDPR), through its fully owned subsidiary EDP Renewables North America, signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for 100 megawatts of new solar energy and 10 MW of battery storage at the Sonrisa Solar Park in Fresno County, California. The project is anticipated to be operational in 2022.

This long-term agreement is the first of many SJCE expects to sign to meet customer demand for renewable energy, which will total 2,000 GWh annually by 2022. SJCE serves more than 328,000 residential and business customers and has a high participation rate (98.6%).

“100 MW of solar energy will enable San Jose Clean Energy to power nearly 36,000 homes each year with clean electricity — the same impact as removing more than 871,000 cars from our city’s roads,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Today’s investment will avoid more than 4.1 million tons of greenhouse gases from our air, bringing us another step closer towards meeting the aggressive emission reduction targets defined in our Climate Smart San Jose plan and securing a sustainable future for our community.”

Operated by the Community Energy Department, SJCE is San Jose’s Community Choice Aggregator (CCA). Through Community Choice, local governments like the City of San Jose buy electricity from cleaner sources, while the investor-owned utility (PG&E, for San Jose) continues to deliver the electricity over their transmission and distribution infrastructure.

“A long-term PPA produces power at a lower price than short-term contracts, so SJCE will see our operational costs decrease,” said Lori Mitchell, community energy department director. “Because SJCE is a government agency, these savings will be reinvested into our community through lower rates and community programs — instead of going to shareholders. This agreement is a win for the environment, a win for our ratepayers and a win for San Jose.”

The Sonrisa Solar Park will be EDPR’s first North American project to include both solar energy and battery storage. The project will bring economic benefits to the state by way of jobs, landowner and tax payments and money spent in local communities. With battery storage, solar energy can be generated during the day and distributed during the evening peak hours.

“Energy storage plays an important role in creating a more flexible and reliable grid system, and as storage technology progresses, EDPR will continue to pursue the inclusion of storage at additional projects within our portfolio,” said Miguel Prado, EDP Renewables North America CEO. “EDP Renewables is pleased to contribute to the increasing amount of clean power in California and aid SJCE in meeting its customers’ call for clean, emission-free energy.”

SJCE joins another local CCA, East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), in purchasing energy from EDPR’s Sonrisa Solar Park. EDPR’s agreements with SJCE and EBCE will enable 200 MW of solar and 40 MW of storage to be constructed at the project. Collaborating on power purchase agreements creates planning and economic efficiencies. CCAs are driving California’s clean energy future: in total, CCAs plan to contract for more than 10,000 MW of new renewable resources by 2030, compared to 1,000 MW pledged by California investor-owned utilities.

The agreement with EDPR reflects SJCE’s financial stability and growing financial resources. SJCE leveraged its $1 billion buying authority from the San Jose City Council.

“By empowering San Jose Clean Energy to manage our city’s power supply, we’re expanding our residents’ and business’ access to renewable energy, while also shrinking their utility bills,” added Mayor Liccardo.

SJCE’s default power mix GreenSource includes 45% renewable energy — 6% more than PG&E’s standard mix — at 1% lower rates. Customers can upgrade to SJCE TotalGreen service to receive 100% renewable energy. Nearly 1,000 customers have upgraded to TotalGreen.

“Renewable energy prices have fallen drastically over the last years, to the point that the average total cost to build and operate renewables is often lower than fossil fuels,” said Jeanne Sole, community energy deputy director of power resources management. “We’re excited to take advantage of these low prices and to include storage in our project to maximize the value of the solar generation for our customers and improve grid reliability.”

Increasing the amount of renewable and carbon-free energy powering San Jose is a key component of Climate Smart San Jose, the city’s climate action plan. The goal is to provide San Jose with 100% carbon-free power by 2021 and 100% renewable power by 2050.

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