Power procurement lies at the heart of why Community Choice Energy (CCE) is a great idea. California’s CCE business model allows local government entities such as RCEA to become the default provider of electric generation for ratepayers. Rather than being subject to decisions made by distant PG&E executives and state regulators, local governments including Humboldt’s can now bring those decisions home.
Since May 2017, RCEA’s CCE program has been serving some 63,000 customers with around 700 million kilowatt-hours of annual load and providing yearly bill savings relative to the PG&E generation rates customers would otherwise pay. Power procured by RCEA is resold to Humboldt County ratepayers. Electricity revenue from our CCE program is redirected into community-driven investments in energy projects, such as offshore wind and solar microgrids, and customer programs. Read more about where RCEA procures power for our customers on our Power Resources page.
RCEA’s power procurement is guided by the following goals:
- 100% renewable & carbon-free electricity by 2025 (Board resolution adopted in 2019)
- 100% of the county’s electricity needs met by local renewable resources by 2030 (Board goal adopted in 2016)
- 65% of State-mandated renewable procurement under long term contracts of 10+ years by the 2021-2024 Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance period (State’s SB 350 requirement)
Our Board of Directors is made up of locally elected officials, who decide what kind of power we buy, and under what terms we buy it. Community members have input on these decisions by attending our open monthly Board meetings or contacting their Board members. Meeting details can be found on our Board of Directors page.
Policy Basis Timeline
The Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s Board of Directors launched Community Choice Energy (CCE) in May of 2017 based on years of strategic planning and robust public engagement. The core goal is to maximize the use of local renewable energy while providing competitive rates to customers.
- In 2012, RCEA’s Board adopted a Comprehensive Action Plan for Energy (PDF) (CAPE) that established a vision for 2030 of Humboldt County as a net energy exporter and the majority of the community’s energy needs being met by local renewable sources.
- In 2013, RCEA finalized the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan (PDF) which assessed the technical and economic feasibility of the goals established in the CAPE by evaluating local renewable resources and costs of developing them.
- 2016, RCEA’s Board adopted Guidelines for RCEA CCE Program Launch Period Strategy and Targets (PDF) calling for the program to “Maximize the use of local renewable energy while providing competitive rates to customers.”
- 2016, RCEA’s Board adopted the Energy Risk Management Policy, which is updated annually and guides many of RCEA’s procurement practices. The current policy can be found on our Key Documents page.
- August 1, 2018, RCEA submitted its first Integrated Resource Plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), detailing its power procurement plans and their alignment with statewide power planning goals.
- March 28, 2019, RCEA’s Board adopted a resolution to procure 100% clean and renewable (PDF) electricity for our CCE customers by 2025.
- December 19, 2019 RCEA’s Board approved RCEA’s updated RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan, which was based on the CAPE and includes targets for renewable energy, customer solar and electrification of buildings and vehicles.
- September 1, 2020 RCEA submitted its updated Integrated Resource Plan to the CPUC.
- November 1, 2022 RCEA submitted its updated Integrated Resource Plan to the CPUC.
Our strategic planning page covers RCEA’s community engagement process for updating its RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan in 2019.
Integrated Resource Plan
RCEA’s biennially updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) describes how we plan to meet RCEA’s customer load at affordable rates with existing and new supply-side and demand-side resources over the next decade. IRPs are prepared in accordance with the CPUC’s compliance process and planning terminology.
Humboldt’s Electric Future
In early 2023, RCEA plans to build on its IRP and Strategic Plan with Humboldt’s Electric Future, an opportunity to inform the community about energy planning and collect input to advise RCEA’s next IRP. More information will be available soon.
RPS Procurement Plan
Pursuant to the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program, RCEA submits a draft and final RPS Procurement Plan to the CPUC on an annual basis. The RPS Plan details RCEA’s plans for complying with the RPS Program and includes a risk assessment of renewable resources in development. All RPS Procurement Plans can be found on the CPUC’s website.
Each year, RCEA performs a Summer Assessment, which describes expectations of electricity supplies and demand in the third quarter of the current year relative to the same period in the year prior, both across the California Independent System Operator grid and for RCEA’s customer demand specifically. The Assessment documents what resources RCEA has contracted that are or will be operational this summer, and the efforts we are taking to support grid reliability.
RCEA procures a combination of renewable and carbon-free resources that qualify for California’s RPS or otherwise do not emit greenhouse gases, including large hydropower. RCEA’s risk management policy prohibits inclusion of nuclear power, coal power, and hydropower from existing dams on the mainstem Klamath River in our energy portfolio. More information about resource types and specific projects can be found on our Power Resources page.
In addition to our Board’s goals described above, RCEA’s renewable energy procurement is driven by compliance with two key pieces of California legislation. SB 100 calls for electricity providers to increase the percentage of renewable energy in their mix over time, eventually reaching 100% renewable and carbon-free energy by 2045, with intermediate targets along the way. SB 350 requires electricity providers to ensure that, beginning in 2021, at least 65% of SB 100’s renewable energy mandate is under long-term contracts of ten years’ minimum duration.
Customers participating in our default REpower service typically receive around 40% renewable energy, while “opted up” REpower+ customers receive 100% renewable energy. RCEA’s renewable procurement is planned to increase steadily until all customers are receiving 100% renewable energy by 2030. RCEA procures this energy through short- and long-term contracts with existing and new renewable generators. Please see RCEA’s Power Resources webpage for a graphic of these targets and information on specific projects. These projects are procured under long-term contracts through competitive solicitations. Once they are all operational, these projects will provide about two-thirds of RCEA’s annual electricity supply. In addition to helping RCEA meet the SB 350 requirement described above , they also provide energy at lower and more stable cost than short-term contracts, thus enabling RCEA to continue providing customer savings on energy bills.
California is retiring fossil fuel power plants at an unprecedented rate in its efforts to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. In addition, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant that provides about one-fourth of PG&E’s electricity is scheduled to close by 2025 (though recent action by the State may extend operation to as late as 2030 to ensure grid reliability while more renewable energy and energy storage is brought online). To replace these non-renewable resources, California is accelerating development of clean resources that can provide power around the clock. While the state cannot meet its climate goals with distributed solar alone, RCEA supports rooftop solar and other distributed renewable energy technologies. We offer net energy metering, a feed-in-tariff for mid-sized renewable energy projects, and a Public Agency Solar Program to promote this approach. However, there are two concerns about relying only on distributed solar. One is cost – deploying the vast amount of renewable energy we need to meet countywide electricity loads only with small distributed systems would cost far more than the energy we can procure through the utility scale power purchase agreements. Another concern is over-reliance on solar energy. The energy from solar projects is delivered at midday, when the California grid is already experiencing a glut of over-generation from the state’s booming solar industry. This can be addressed through energy storage that makes solar energy available at other times of day, as RCEA has done with its solar plus storage microgrid project. However, adding storage significantly increases project cost and complexity. RCEA aims to develop a diverse power mix, including resources that produce electricity at complementary seasons and times of day to solar, such as wind and hydropower.
RCEA is a joint powers agency formed by and representing our local Humboldt County and City governments. As such, we have a stake in protecting the environment in Humboldt County as well as the communities that host our non-local energy projects. Impact on various environmental resources is factored into the evaluation process in each of RCEA’s power contract solicitations. Also, provisions are included in RCEA’s contracts that ensure power projects are developed and operated in accordance with environmental law and enable RCEA to cancel the contract in the event that the seller does not comply with environmental and other regulations. Ultimately, the potential for RCEA to buy power from a project is contingent on its approval by the authority having jurisdiction based on their evaluation of environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act.