by MCE and TRC
As a leading community choice aggregation (CCA) energy provider in California, MCE is taking a bold new step in its commitment to address climate change and support its local community. MCE launched an innovative Energy Storage Program this summer to provide energy resilience to its customers, preparing for expected public safety power shut-offs (PSPS) this fall. The program provides participating customers with behind-the-meter storage systems that will deliver back-up power during outages and lower customer bills during normal operations.
A New Program Approach
Energy efficiency and solar programs are nothing new for CCAs, but MCE’s behind-the-meter energy storage program model is cutting-edge even within the broader energy industry. MCE envisioned the program as key step towards its advanced energy mission and selected a team led by TRC to implement the program. MCE aims to achieve 15 MWh of energy storage in the program’s first 2 years and through a technology neutral design, scale up the program to achieve as much as 70 MWh in 5 years.
The MCE program allows customers to select qualifying energy storage systems from their trusted contractors—systems which are integrated and controlled through a centralized distributed energy resources management system (DERMS). Customers receive financial support to help cover the cost of their storage systems and pay nothing up-front, in exchange for allowing MCE to program their battery for smart charging and discharging. Customers may also choose financing offered by the National Energy Improvement Fund if there are still remaining costs to the customer.
Essential to the program is its support for MCE’s vulnerable customers. MCE is prioritizing energy storage systems for residential and commercial customers with low-income, disadvantaged community, medical necessity, and high-risk fire exposure factors as well as local government agencies providing critical resilience and/or emergency services to communities.
Benefits for the Local Community
The MCE program will provide important back-up power during PSPS and other emergency events. Further, it provides strong value during normal operations by shifting and shaping load away from peak periods to reduce customer demand charges and peak pricing. Managing load in this way also improves the overall grid health and supports effective MCE day-to-day operations and decarbonization strategies.
Further, MCE is committed to local economic and workforce development, and the program itself supports local solar and storage installers who identify, sell, and install energy storage to customers. The program implementation team also includes the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity—a non-profit organization who will working with the storage installer network to train, upskill, and facilitate employment for low-income Bay Area adults (50% of whom will be women) who face barriers to employment.
As Californians face challenging, uncertain times, solutions like behind-the-meter energy storage can give communities greater energy resilience. For citizens navigating the challenges of a pandemic and increasing climate risks, any step towards safety and security has tremendous meaning. Plus, the value and viability of programs like MCE’s extend beyond major outage events by fostering sustainability everyday through lower carbon emissions, reduced customer bills, and investments in the local workforce.
About MCE: As California’s first Community Choice Aggregation Program, MCE is a groundbreaking, not-for-profit, public agency that has been setting the standard for energy innovation in our communities since 2010. MCE offers cleaner power at stable rates, significantly reducing energy-related greenhouse emissions and enabling millions of dollars of reinvestment in local energy programs. MCE is a load-serving entity supporting a 1,000 MW peak load. MCE provides electricity service to more than 480,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents and businesses in 34 member communities across four Bay Area counties: Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, and Solano. For more information about MCE, visit mceCleanEnergy.org.
About TRC: TRC is an advanced energy services company working with cities, local governments, and utilities across California for more than 20 years. Their primary focus is making energy visions actionable—from resilient energy to decarbonization, efficiency, and sustainability. For more information, contact them at AdvancedEnergy@TRCcompanies.com.