Distributed Energy Resources

Alameda Municipal Power in California reaches 100% clean energy

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At the beginning of the year, Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) began providing 100% clean energy to all of its customers, making it one of a handful of cities to reach that goal.

For decades the California public power utility has had a focus on clean energy, deriving its electrical energy through a mix of geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and landfill gas resources.

By 2011, Alameda Municipal Power had exceeded California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirement and in 2012 the utility began to strategically sell some of its renewable energy to utilities struggling to meet the RPS mandate.

California requires electric utilities to derive 60% of their energy from renewable resources by 2030 and 100% from clean energy sources by 2045.

Even with the sales, AMP was supplying approximately 40 to 65% clean energy to its customers. AMP’s short-term sales of renewable energy ended in December 2019, making Alameda’s energy supply 100% clean. So, as of Jan. 1, AMP’s electrical supplies have been generated wholly from clean energy.

“We were hearing loud and clear from customers and board members that they wanted 100% clean energy,” Nicolas Procos, AMP’s general manager, said.

Reaching 100% clean energy supplies also moves Alameda closer to the city’s goal of reducing the community’s greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. The city’s goal includes emissions from sources other than electricity production, such as natural gas and transportation.

Even though Alameda is not yet at the 2030 goal, “we have some time and we are well on our way to meeting that target,” Procos said. And AMP is “doubling down” on programs, such as building and transportation electrification, to move the city in that direction, he said. For instance, AMP is about to launch a heat pump water heater program with heftier incentives, $1,500 as opposed to the previous $500 incentive.

The funds derived from years of selling bundled renewable energy credits from its clean energy portfolio left AMP with about $30 million that it is dedicating to programs such as energy efficiency and building electrification. AMP is also using funds derived from California’s low carbon fuel standard program to fund its transportation electrification program.

Funds from the sale of portions of AMP’s renewable portfolio have helped cushion the costs of reaching 100% clean energy and providing rebate and incentive programs, Procos said. And while the utility’s rates are a little higher than some other public power utilities, AMP says it is able to provide clean power at a rate 17% below investor-owned PG&E’s rates.

“Our little island has become a national trendsetter by greening its electricity mix ahead of major cities like Los Angeles, Boston and New York City,” Procos said in a statement.