Covering local governments’ push to cut electricity greenhouse gas emissions through creating community choice aggregators (CCAs), Voice of San Diego spoke with Near Zero’s Danny Cullenward:
In 2016, Marin and Sonoma bought about 12 percent of their power from the Grant County Public Utility District in central Washington. Grant County owns and operates two hydropower facilities; both are over 50 years old.
About a half-million megawatt hours of electricity from those facilities ended up in Marin and Sonoma, helping both CCAs tout how much greener they were than Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility monopoly in Northern California.
Back in Grant County, the amount of coal and gas used by the utility increased by about a half-million megawatt hours. Grant County seems to have sold off hydropower it needed for its own customers and replaced it with dirtier power.
That makes Marin and Sonoma’s transactions with Grant County look like “a textbook example of resource shuffling,” said Danny Cullenward, an energy economist and lawyer for Near Zero, a group trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These deals are called “shuffling” because they don’t increase the amount of green energy available and they don’t reduce the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.
But Cullenward said traditional utilities, not just CCAs, participate in shuffling.
“Ultimately, California needs to support the deployment and integration of new clean energy resources, not merely the re-allocation of existing generation,” he said in an email.
Voice of San Diego found the Grant County transactions by looking through regulatory disclosures Marin and Sonoma made to the California Energy Commission and similar disclosures Grant County has to make in Washington to state regulators and bondholders. Both Cullenward and Freedman reviewed the documents and agreed it was a concrete example of shuffling.
Read the full article, “In Rush to Buy Clean Energy, Coal and Gas Have Hidden Role” by Ry Rivard, on the Voice of San Diego website.