Local Leadership Brings Momentum to Increasing Access to 100% Clean Energy

This is the first in a series of two blog posts where Clean Power Alliance highlights the impact of local leadership in addressing equity, climate change, and increasing energy resiliency. The first blog focuses on local leadership in bringing clean energy to local communities and the second on how local jurisdictions are decarbonizing buildings through building reach codes and workforce development.  

The transition to our clean energy future requires a commitment to change and a pathway to move forward in this critical shared effort. Communities throughout Southern California are actively addressing climate change and resiliency needs while growing the green economy to build a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for our region.

Municipalities are making intentional leadership decisions that will reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resiliency, provide local clean energy to underrepresented populations, and support workforce development efforts to expand local green jobs.

Senate Bill (SB) 100 established a landmark policy requiring renewable energy and zero-carbon resources to supply 100% of electricity in California by 2045. Local leadership is driving early adoption of these targets and delivering meaningful impacts to their communities. In 2022, eight Southern California communities made the decision to choose 100% Green Power as their preferred energy option– leading the way to reduce harmful emissions and provide a more sustainable environment for residents and businesses.

Beverly Hills, Camarillo, Claremont, Hawthorne, Los Angeles County, and Redondo Beach became 100% renewable energy communities in October. Businesses in Rolling Hills Estates and South Pasadena joined residents in those communities with 100% Green energy as their preferred option in 2022 as well. These communities join Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Culver City, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Ojai, Oxnard, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, Ventura, and West Hollywood in choosing 100% renewable energy as their preferred energy option. This year, the City of Alhambra is also selecting 100% Green as its energy option. Collectively, the 22 communities are projected to avoid approximately 4.6 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

“Going to 100% Green Power creates a sustainable future through the intentional actions of reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. Julian A. Gold, Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills, and Board Chair of Clean Power Alliance. “This decision will help protect the health and wellbeing of our residents and I’m proud that Beverly Hills is demonstrating that commitment to our community.”

By choosing 100% Green Power, these communities spur development of large-scale renewable energy, including wind, solar, geothermal and hydro in the state leading to rapid process in meeting SB 100 targets. Additionally, these communities now provide access to renewable energy to their entire communities, including those who previously did not have affordable access to renewable energy.

A recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study shows that in California only a fraction (12%) of solar installations occur in households making under 50k per year, signaling inequity in access to clean energy. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has authorized several statewide initiatives to bridge the gap for low-income residents. This includes Single-family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH), providing incentives for the installation of solar and battery systems, and the Disadvantaged Communities Green Tariff (DAC-GT) and Community Solar Green Tariff (CS-GT).  

Energy equity is vital to ensuring the clean energy future is available to all. The communities of Basset and Avocado Heights in the City of Pico Rivera will benefit from community solar projects coming online this year to make local renewable energy accessible to disadvantaged communities. Community solar programs nationwide bring more renewable resources to local areas and typically offer discounts to qualified low-income residents, providing access to renewables for the entire community.

Through the DAC-GT and CS-GT offerings, Southern California customers within the communities served by the local solar resources will be eligible to receive 100% renewable energy and a 20% discount, making clean energy more affordable. These small-scale community solar projects done in coordination with local nonprofit organizations, such as The Energy Coalition, increase the value for the local community.

“The Bassett Avocado Heights Advanced Energy Community is very happy to see both the ‘Beverly’ and ‘San Gabriel’ Pivot Energy projects coming to fruition,” said Craig Perkins, President and Executive Director of The Energy Coalition. “These projects are examples of the state of California and Clean Power Alliance working together to ensure hundreds of residents in disadvantaged communities have affordable access to clean renewable energy.”

Collectively local government and community leaders are creating a pathway for addressing climate impacts and strengthening environmental and economic resiliency for our communities – it’s imperative this momentum continues to deliver a higher quality of life for Southern California residents.

(posted 2/16/23)


About the Author

Joanne O’Neill serves as the Director, Customer Programs at Clean Power Alliance, leading a mix of programs promoting electric vehicles and buildings, demand response, energy resiliency, and low-income community solar. She has over 15 years of experience delivering customer programs within the utility and consulting space. This includes over 5 years of leading the California operations at CLEAResult, the largest provider of emission-reducing energy solutions across North America, and more than 10 years at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). When at PG&E, Joanne designed and implemented numerous customer programs and led the strategy for implementation of time-of-use rates.

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