Value of clean local energy

Delivering a trifecta of economic, environmental, and resilience benefits

Clean local energy provides communities these benefits and more:

  • Avoids the expensive and inefficient long-distance transmission of power
  • Boosts local economies
  • Provides new power sources more quickly than central energy generation
  • Enhances resilience and energy security
  • Boosts energy independence

Avoiding expensive transmission infrastructure

Generating renewable energy in the communities where it is used avoids the expensive and inefficient long-distance transmission of power.

  • Massive transmission infrastructure — which is needed to get energy from large, distant power plants to communities where it is consumed — is expensive to site, build, and maintain.
  • In 2017 – 2018, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) cancelled $2.6 billion worth of approved transmission projects because faster-than-expected deployment of distributed energy resources (DER) and energy efficiency eliminated the need for this expensive transmission.
  • Long-distance energy transmission is inefficient — about 11% of all the energy bought in California is lost during transmission.

Boosting local economies

  • Developing clean energy locally creates jobs within the community — and it creates more jobs than developing traditional, centralized power plants.
  • Generating clean energy locally keeps dollars in the community. And it can give residents, businesses, and institutions a path to entrepreneurship in the fast-growing clean energy economy.
  • 2014 report showed that 1 MW (megawatt) of locally owned solar means as much as $5.7 million in lifetime economic benefits for a community
  • Developing clean local energy generation turns underused spaces such as parking lots, fields, and rooftops into energy-producing assets — without the controversy and cost involved in building large power plants on undeveloped land.

Coming online quickly

Clean local energy comes online more quickly than large, centrally located energy generation.

  • The 550 MW Topaz Solar Array took seven years to develop and construct.
  • During those same seven years, over 8,000 MW of distributed solar were installed in the U.S.
  • A well-designed Feed-In Tariff (FIT), like the one the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) launched in 2010, can accelerate deployment of clean local energy. Within just one day of program launch, SMUD received nearly enough bids to fill its entire 100 MW FIT. Within two years, 98.5 MW had been successfully installed.

Providing resilience

Clean local energy enhances energy security by providing for a more robust and resilient grid.

  • Our current system of large, centralized power plants is vulnerable to massive outages from severe weather, natural disasters, human error, and acts of terrorism.
  • Incorporating smaller, decentralized power plants diversifies the energy supply and reduces the risk of widespread power outages. With solar+storage, a community can keep critical services going even during widespread blackouts.

Boosting America's energy independence

Updating our power system will boost America’s energy independence.

  • A modern power grid incorporating clean local energy can fully support electric vehicles, reducing our reliance on foreign oil.
  • An intelligent grid can support high levels of renewable energy, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in favor of clean energy made in communities across America.

Recent news

The latest in clean local energy

Learn about our innovative projects and initiatives on our blog, and see what others are reporting about our important work.

School Zone: Solar

Noozhawk reports on a $40 million proposal to install solar energy, battery storage, and electrical vehicle charging stations across the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

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Will Your EV Keep the Lights On When the Grid Goes Down?

Greentech Media reports that battery packs in electric vehicles can help during power outages.

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Some wonder if electric microgrids could light the way in California

The Eagle reports how recent power shut-offs have energy advocates calling for a transformation of the state’s electric grid.

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