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Workshops Look at Clean Energy Solutions

With the suspension of proposed power plants in Goleta and Oxnard, a turning point approaches to transition the local economy to clean energy generated and managed by community organizations, public agencies and private industry.

The fight over local energy supply is reflective of the debate over statewide energy planning. The relative success of Southern California Edison’s (SCE) upcoming energy solicitation will largely determine the future of our regional energy economy.

In Oxnard, two large natural gas-fired plants will soon be retired, and SCE needs to meet those energy needs from new sources.

SCE's initial plan called for construction of The Puente Project, a large gas-fired plant in Oxnard intended to partially replace the retiring facilities, and the refurbishment of the Ellwood Power Station located within a now densely populated area.

However, extreme public opposition to the both projects, citing air pollution and environmental justice concerns, required SCE to reconsider renewable options for local energy development.

CleanEnergy805, a coalition of local and regional nonprofits, has formed to support renewable energy development through SCE’s energy procurement process.

On Feb. 28, SCE released a Request For Proposals (RFP) proceeding to meet local energy capacity needs in southern Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

This RFP is targeting local development of up to 308 MW of distributed energy resources for the Moorpark Sub-area encompassing both counties.

Development of such resources will deliver energy security and financial benefits to local landowners willing to site projects on their roofs, parking lots, or open spaces.

CleanEnergy805 is working to educate businesses, local governments, and property owners about the opportunity to generate revenue and increase local energy reliability, while supporting clean energy innovation to achieve the region’s energy and environmental goals.

County Supervisor Das Williams said of  SCE’s RFP: “This offers an enormous collaborative opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop renewables, provide consumers with economic benefits, and accomplish our community goal of reaching 100 percent sustainable energy by 2030.

"Given the lack of utility-scale renewable projects in our area and our geographic vulnerability and reliability issues, the chance to forge a path that would allow local renewable energy development and generation is critical,"  he said.

"I hope this solicitation produces a strong local response that would begin the process of collaboration between developers and landowners to create energy choices that are better aligned with our values as a community,” Williams said.

By participating in the RFP, site owners can significantly reduce energy costs and/or earn additional revenue by selling energy and other related services directly to the local energy grid.

A successful RFP will result in local communities benefiting from a more resilient electricity infrastructure, cleaner energy production, and better air quality.

Robert Perry of the World Business Academy, a CleanEnergy805 participant, said: “With the closure of Mandalay and Ormond Beach power plants, this area could become completely reliant on outside energy without a local energy solution.

"Local landowners have a unique opportunity to earn additional revenue from energy generation, while also keeping those revenues within the local economy for the benefit of municipal and county programs.”

Under the RFP, local property managers will partner with developers to bid into SCE’s solicitation. SCE will in turn select projects based on a “least cost/best fit” analysis.

SCE has announced a preference for renewable-energy projects in southern Santa Barbara County, but will accept bids for gas-fired generation in the area.

Clean Energy 805 hopes to connect developers with property managers interested in developing renewable energy projects so SCE will have an ample portfolio of renewable energy bids to consider.

April Price of the Community Environmental Council, another CleanEnergy805 participant, said, “We hope that SCE will act in response to the community’s overwhelming preference to develop local renewable energy projects.

"This RFP could be SCE’s chance to actively support the resolutions by Goleta and Santa Barbara to achieve a 100 percent renewable-energy economy.”

“SCE’s upcoming RFP is a tremendous opportunity to increase the resiliency of local energy system, increase the amount of renewables in Southern Santa Barbara County, create clean energy jobs, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said County Supervisor Joan Hartmann.

"I encourage both local site hosts and developers to participate in this process.”

CleanEnergy805 will host two free workshops for stakeholders to discuss the benefits of installing distributed, renewable resources through SCE’s RFP.

The workshop is free for local business managers, landowners, and government facility managers. Workshop dates and times:

Tuesday, March 13, 2:30-5 p.m.,CMC 6740 Cortona Drive, Suite 101 Goleta. Park in lot or on the street as available
(optional networking event to follow at M Special Brewery)

Thursday. March 15, 9 a.m.-noon, Ventura County Community Foundation, Pharos Community Room, 4001 Mission Oaks Blvd., Camarillo.

Visit CleanEnergy805.org for more information or to register for the workshops.

— April Price for CleanEnergy805.

 

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