PCE and SVCE Trailblazing Reach Code Initiative Drives Decarbonization
Farhad Farahmand | January 5, 2021
California has passed landmark directives over the last several years to drive carbon neutrality by 2045 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and buildings. These directives have motivated local cities and counties to meet their climate action goals and prompted two community choice aggregators (CCAs)—Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE)—to provide resources that help communities deliver on these goals.
Resources for CCA Members
PCE and SVCE launched a trailblazing Joint Electrification Reach Code Initiative in 2018, which is featured in a new case study published by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The Initiative provides support to the CCAs’ 34 member agencies (city and county governments) as they consider and adopt new building electrification and electric vehicle infrastructure codes that exceed codes required by the state. These “reach” codes represent an important, local pathway towards statewide decarbonization. PCE and SVCE provided comprehensive resources to cities and counties in five phases as illustrated below.
To help local jurisdictions with code development and technical considerations, PCE and SVCE selected TRC as its lead consultant for the Initiative and subcontractor DNV-GL, given our considerable experience with statewide code development and cost-effectiveness as well as work with local government reach codes. As the Project Manager for this effort and on behalf of the TRC team, we have been thrilled to work with PCE and SVCE on their breakthrough Initiative. While individual cities had previously considered reach codes, a coordinated and large-scale regional effort like this had never been attempted and the Initiative presents a unique opportunity to catalyze decarbonization policy in California.
Seeing Decarbonization Success
The Initiative’s success can be seen in the number of PCE and SVCE member agencies that considered and ultimately adopted the reach codes. As of December 2020, 24 jurisdictions considered and 21 adopted codes that exceeded state standards, out of the 34 local governments in the CCAs’ territory. PCE cities that adopted codes included Brisbane, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, as well as the County of San Mateo. For SVCE, cities included Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale.
Together, these communities represent over half of all cities and counties which have adopted building electrification reach codes to-date in California. Moreover, other entities have been able to leverage PCE and SVCE Initiative materials for their own reach code efforts, including East Bay Community Energy, the City of San Luis Obispo, and the city of Santa Clara’s municipal utility Silicon Valley Power.
In terms of each jurisdiction’s individual accomplishments, many cities and counties adopted stronger codes than expected—and even developed a friendly competition that spurred jurisdictions to collective action. “For three or four months, we were all competing with each other about what we were going to put before our councils and get adopted.” said Howard Miller, Mayor of Saratoga and SVCE board member, according to the CPUC case study. “My own city went farther than I expected…I was pleasantly surprised and impressed.”
What’s Next for the Initiative?
PCE and SVCE’s Initiative sets a new precedent for CCAs and local jurisdictions to partner together in a unified regional effort to drive decarbonization through local reach codes. Today, the Initiative continues to provide resources for numerous jurisdictions still in the consideration phase as well as ongoing support to local government staff for code implementation and compliance.
Moreover, the Initiative has continued to expand its impact, with engagement from the building industry, state and regional energy programs, consultants like TRC, and advocates like the Building Decarbonization Coalition. Together, this group is providing technical assistance, roundtable discussions, and contractor training to support building decarbonization.
The case study published by the CPUC shares key insights and best practices from the Initiative, useful to those interested in adopting or promoting reach codes as a path to carbon reduction. For inquiries or more information on the Initiative, please contact Farhad Farahmand.
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