A new report has found that expanding community choice energy (CCE) programs and developing larger-scale solar projects in California’s San Joaquin Valley could create 8,400 jobs and $845 million in economic activity between 2019 and 2024 if the region generated only 10 percent of its total capacity with solar. Under the most extreme and optimistic scenario, the report found that at 33 percent solar capacity, an estimated 27,600 jobs and over $2 billion in economic activity could be created during the same years.
CCEs are local renewable energy programs which generate and buy electricity for homes and business. CCEs set rates, develop projects and provide customers with energy efficiency programs. Investor-owned utilities, like PG&E, in the San Joaquin Valley, provide transmission, power distribution, grid maintenance and billing services for customers. California currently has 8 CCEs in operation. Out of 58 counties in the state, 28 have programs that are operational or in some stage of development.
“This report is intended to help San Joaquin Valley’s policymakers realize the vision of Community Choice Energy as a game-changing jobs-creator and economic powerhouse,” said Ann Hancock, the Center for Climate Protection’s executive director.
The report, Community Choice Energy: What Is the Economic Impact of Local Renewable Power Purchasing? issued by the Center for Climate Protection and Fosterra Clean Consulting, evaluated three potential scenarios for penetrations of large-scale solar deployment at 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent of region’s energy demands. The report put forth a variety of strategies that would create a more competitively priced energy market by directly procuring utility-scale projects and taking advantage of feed-in-tariffs.
With CCEs driving larger-scale solar development, the report predicts that the region’s total solar generation could exceed 13.66 million-kilowatt hours annually by 2020. CCE programs throughout the state are producing positive economic growth and customer savings. For instance, CCE Sonoma Clean Power in Northern California has saved customers an estimated $62 million on their power bills in only two-years of operation.
“We are pleased to see this study come out as it offers further support that adopting renewables, in this case via Community Choice Energy, builds economic strength in the Central Valley,” said Ismael Herrera, associate director of Fresno State's Office of Community and Economic Development.Tweet