June 28th, 2018: A plan for local clean energy development in the East Bay

The Clean Power to the People workshop on June 28, 2018 was a workshop on the newly released draft Local Development Business Plan (LDBP) that is key to East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Alameda County’s new Community Choice energy program, meeting our communities’ needs. It was also a call to action for community members and organizations to attend the July 18th rally and press conference to be held at the EBCE Board meeting, where  the LDBP is slated for adoption.


Representatives from about 15 different community organizations participated in the workshop held at the Sustainable Economies Law Center and organized by the East Bay Clean Power Alliance. Participants included community members and representatives of environmental justice organizations, faith communities, renewable energy businesses, environmental organizations, labor and others.


The goal of the June 28th workshop was to build support for the adoption and implementation of the Local Development Business Plan. East Bay Clean Power Alliance successfully pushed for the creation of the LDBP in the foundational documents of East Bay Community Energy. After a year of extensive engagement and input, the draft LDBP was released for review on June 4. The LDBP provides strategies, programs, and actions to help our East Bay Community Energy agency build local clean energy resources in a way that brings environmental, economic, and social justice benefits to our communities. It is key to keeping energy wealth in our communities.


The event started off with a discussion of energy in our everyday lives, leading to the idea of energy democracy, which inspired a wonderful video from Janelle Orsi at Sustainable Economies Law Center. Next, participants formed groups to revisit the stated goals of EBCE.
Some key LDBP proposals were also discussed: 
  1. Enhanced Net Energy Metering (NEM) – EBCE pays residents and businesses who can generate their own electricity for the excess energy they produce beyond what they use
  2. Collaborative Procurement – EBCE organizes many smaller projects into larger projects to reduce costs and risks and employ union labor
  3. Enhanced Feed‑in‑Tariff (FIT) – EBCE encourages local electricity generation by providing a standard favorable price to electricity producers for a period of about twenty years
  4. Energy efficiency - EBCE promotes energy efficiency projects that save on electricity bills, especially in low income communities
  5. Community Benefit “Adders” - EBCE pays higher prices for for electricity from projects that provide special community benefits, such as energy storage, projects in low  income communities, and projects that pay prevailing wages
  6. Community and customers as partners – EBCE develops programs in which the agency and community mutually benefit by working together to provide energy services that help the community
A few shortcomings of the draft LDBP were also discussed. In particular, the draft LDBP falls short of an actual implementation plan: it provides an excellent framework for local energy resource development, but it does not provide an explicit roadmap for implementing its recommendations. Instead, it proposes an ongoing process of review, analysis, and refinement, but lacks specific development targets, specific program priorities, and specific  investment commitments.
EBCE needs to say how staff will implement the LDBP at least in the next year or two.. This will be the theme of a rally and press conference outside the EBCE Board meeting on Wednesday July 18, 5:00pm at Hayward City Hall.
Many workshop participants agreed to attend the July 18th rally and press conference or send representatives of their organization. The workshop also helped participants develop simpler more direct ways to communicate the ideas of energy democracy and the goals of the EBCE to their constituents.