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Bay Area Community Power Providers Team Up in Quest for Cheaper Clean Energy

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The sun shines over towers carrying electrical lines on Aug. 30, 2007, in South San Francisco, Calif.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images))

A coalition of California community power providers in the Bay Area and beyond are joining forces on bulk purchases of renewable energy.

East Bay Community Energy and other community choice aggregators, as the groups are called, buy cleaner power for their customers. Now, eight of these aggregators are combining to procure more clean energy and invest in battery farms, which store excess power harvested from the grid, at what they say will be a better price.

The group is already evaluating proposals to procure 500-megawatts of energy storage it hopes to bring online by 2026. That’s enough storage to keep the lights on in a neighborhood like West Oakland, with more than 9,000 homes, for an entire month.

The groups are mostly in the Bay Area; other communities like Santa Barbara and Humboldt County are also represented. All together, they cover more than 2.5 million customers and the equivalent of 40% of PG&E’s annual electricity load.

Jan Pepper, CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy, said the group’s members are “among the most ambitious [community choice aggregators] in pursuing clean power.”

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She says the drive toward constant, 100% renewable energy, “won’t be possible without reliable long-term energy storage, so it’s important we are concentrating our early effort toward making that a reality.”

The group can bring costs down by leveraging “economies of scale” and by creating “better negotiating power” and shared risk, she said.

East Bay Community Energy and Peninsula Clean Energy are joined in the initiative by Central Coast Community Energy, MCE in the North and East Bay, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, San José Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power.

CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s aggregator, is also pursuing membership.

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