Power procurement lies at the heart of why Community Choice Energy is a great idea. California’s Community Choice Energy business model allows local government entities such as RCEA to become the default procurer of electric power for our residents and businesses. Rather than being subject to decisions made by regulators in Sacramento and executives at PG&E headquarters in San Francisco, local governments including Humboldt’s can now bring those decisions home.
RCEA’s Community Choice Energy program (CCE) has been serving some 63,000 customers since May 2017, with approximately 700,000 MWh of annual load and providing yearly bill savings relative to the investor-owned utility generation rates customers would otherwise pay. Power procured by RCEA through short-and long-term contracts is resold to Humboldt County ratepayers.
Our Board of Directors is made up of locally elected officials, decides 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. The meetings are held on the 4th Thursday of each month at 3:30 p.m. and are open to the public. Under normal conditions, our meetings are located at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Office, 828 7th St., Eureka, CA 95501. During the pandemic, board meetings are being held ONLINE.
Electricity revenue from our CCE program is redirected into community-driven energy choices, including the development of an offshore wind energy industry in California with Humboldt Bay as a leading hub, and RCEA’s first solar-with-storage generation asset, at the California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport. Read more about these projects and others on our Power Resources page, which is included on the side menu. Our goal is to continue to capitalize on the energy expertise that exists on the north coast to develop sustainable local energy sources and jobs.
Integrated Resource Plan
Our biennially updated Integrated Resource Plan describes our electricity resource needs and guides our procurement process.
RCEA is pursuing the following procurement goals:
- 100% carbon-free electricity by 2025 (Board goal adopted in 2019)
- 100% local carbon-free electricity by 2030 (Board goal adopted in 2016)
- 65% of carbon-free procurement under long term contracts of 10+ years by the 2021-2024 compliance period (State’s SB 350 requirement)
Our strategic planning page covers how we updated our power procurement strategies in 2019 with the help of an extensive community engagement process.
2022 Summer Assessment
RCEA’s 2022 Summer Assessment describes expectations of electricity supplies and demand in Q3 2022 relative to Q3 2021, across the CA 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.
Redwood Coast Energy Authority established its community choice energy program in 2017. The program was launched with a goal adopted by our Board of providing 100% locally generated renewable electricity to our Humboldt County customers by 2030. In March 2019, our Board adopted a resolution calling for a 100% clean and renewable electricity mix by 2025. The makeup of this mix remains to be determined, but it is expected to include a combination of resources that meet California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and other resources that do not emit greenhouse gases, including large hydro power. RCEA’s risk management policy prohibits inclusion of nuclear power, coal power, and hydro power from existing dams on the mainstem Klamath River in our energy portfolio.
In addition to our Board’s goals, 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. Currently RCEA is procuring this energy through short- and long-term contracts with existing and new renewable power producers. These contracts are selected through competitive solicitation processes. Please see RCEA’s Power Resources webpage for information on specific projects.
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 for long-term contracts with Renewable Portfolio Standard-eligible resources, they also provide energy at lower and more stable cost than we are currently paying under short-term contracts while also helping RCEA maintain its commitment to 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. To replace these resources, California needs to accelerate its development of renewable resources at scale. The RCEA Board of Directors, with community input, has set ambitious targets to accelerate the state’s renewable energy transition.
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 at the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport. 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. Impact on various environmental resources are 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 their ability to be approved by the environmental agencies with regulatory and permitting authority.
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 that includes Humboldt County no longer being a net energy importer and the majority of the community’s energy needs being met by renewable energy sources.
- In 2013, RCEA finalized the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan (PDF) which further evaluated and reaffirmed the goal of Humboldt County meeting the majority of its electricity needs as well as a significant portion of its heating and transportation energy needs from local renewable resources by 2030.
- In 2016, RCEA’s Board adopted CCE Launch Period guidelines (PDF) calling for the program to “Maximize the use of local renewable energy while providing competitive rates to customers.”
- In 2016, RCEA’s Board adopted the Energy Risk Management Policy, which is updated annually and guides many of RCEA’s procurement practices. RCEA’s current ERMP can be found on our Key Documents page.
- On March 28, 2019, RCEA’s Board adopted the target of a 100% clean and renewable (PDF) electricity power generation mix for RCEA’s community choice energy program by 2025. Updates to CAPE are expected to be made by the end of 2019 to incorporate this new timeline.
December 19, 2019 RCEA’s Board of Directors approved the final version of RCEA’s updated RePower Humboldt strategic plan, including plans for power procurement through 2030.
September 1, 2020 RCEA delivered its 2020 Integrated Resource Plan to the California Public Utilities Commission, detailing RCEA’s power procurement plans and their alignment with statewide power planning goals.