Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is the 5th largest rapid transit system in the US, serving San Francisco and its surrounding communities. BART riders take approximately 430,000 trips each weekday on the system. To transport those riders, BART uses approximately 400,000 MWh every year, making BART one of the largest electricity users in Northern California. With nearly 90% of riders agreeing that BART is an environmentally responsible form of transportation, BART leveraged this support to sponsor a bill in 2015 that would allow it to buy wholesale renewable energy directly. This bill’s passage allows BART to directly support California’s climate change goals by buying cost-effective, zero-emissions renewable power and further support their eco-conscious riders.
While BART now had the legal authority to buy its own renewable energy, several challenges remained. First, the organization needed to create a new wholesale electricity portfolio policy that included new renewable energy goals. This policy needed to be approved by the publicly-elected Board of Directors. Second, the Board also needed to approve any renewable energy contracts prior to their execution. And third, BART needed to find long-term renewable energy supply at stable, competitive prices, with minimal risks, and do so in the complex wholesale California energy market. California’s recent solar boom resulted in a high concentration of solar development which has impacted power pricing and changed the value and risk profile for both buyers and sellers. Lastly, regulatory changes both in California and at the federal level, and the looming solar panel tariffs, complicated the risk and financial analyses.
“Price was only one of the factors in our decision-making. 3Degrees helped us understand the relative risks and benefits across a number of projects, allowing us to find a cost-effective solution that also minimized our risk.”
–Holly Gordon, Sustainability Group Manager at BART
How we helped
Following the approval by the Board of the wholesale electricity portfolio policy, 3Degrees developed a customized RFP to meet BART’s special procurement needs and was responsible for organizing the full procurement process from hosting a bidders’ webinar to final project recommendations.
This was no small task: BART received proposals from over 50 projects with over 300 price and contract variations. 3Degrees led the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of all the proposals in close coordination with the BART team. The joint team created an initial shortlist for deeper analysis. We interviewed the shortlisted developers to gain a more holistic understanding of the projects and the teams, and through this process uncovered key project nuances that had a material impact on project viability and competitiveness. In parallel with the qualitative analysis, 3Degrees performed additional quantitative analysis on the shortlisted projects including carefully constructed “stress tests” to evaluate project performance under a variety of market conditions. By creating a range of scenarios that incorporated the unique needs of BART as well as the challenging characteristics of the California market, 3Degrees was able to identify and reveal clear trade-offs between the proposals. We ranked the projects based on their implied REC value, thus allowing for an apples-to-apples comparison of proposals of sometimes-widely varying characteristics.
Our comprehensive approach to analyzing the proposals culminated in the creation of a weighted scorecard which provided a transparent tool to assist the BART team in making their final selection. The combined BART and 3Degrees team came to an unexpected decision: BART would move forward with contract negotiations for two projects. In order to ensure this approach didn’t over complicate the process or add unnecessary time, 3Degrees led the commercial negotiations in close coordination with BART and their legal counsel, negotiating the two contracts in parallel.
- BART signed two 20-year PPAs, one for wind, one for solar for a total of over 106 MW
- When the projects come online in 2021, they will reduce BART’s energy costs
More on 3Degrees’ Transaction Center of Excellence
Groundbreaking bio-digestor project reduces greenhouse gases and improves lives in Vietnam
Animal waste can produce large amounts of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Run off from the manure also can impact water quality in nearby streams and rivers. While dairy methane digesters are a well known solution for large scale operations, a different solution was needed in rural Vietnam, where over 2 million families raise pigs on a small scale.
This project is run by a non-profit organization that uses its funding to establish new digester manufacturing franchises and to train local franchisees on how to build new digester projects. These small-scale digesters capture methane gas from animal waste related to small family animal husbandry in rural Vietnam. Captured gas is used for cooking and lighting in households.
The project has already built 150,000 biogas digesters, with a goal of completing 180,000 by 2018, and has helped 700,000 people in 53 rural Vietnamese provinces.
Environmental and Social Benefits
In areas that lack adequate manure management, biogas technology can help to address hygiene and odor issues and reduce the pollution of waterways. The clean energy produced by a digester can be used to power stoves for cooking, as well as appliances such as lamps and boilers. The generation of biogas also creates a valuable fertilizer by-product that increases farmers’ agricultural yields. Among the project’s co-benefits are:
+ reduced working time for women (searching for fuel) by 1.5-2.0 hours each day
+ increased crop yields by 5-20% due to use of organic fertilizer by-product
+ approximately 64,000 avoided cases of respiratory illness from indoor air pollution
+ new revenue stream for local masons constructing the digesters
The project has received multiple awards including the World Energy Award (2012), the Ashden Award (2010) and the Energy Globe Award (2006). The sale of Gold Standard carbon credits enables the program to train more people in digester construction and maintenance, thus reaching additional farm families.
3Degrees + Carbon Offsets
At 3Degrees, we are committed to bringing high quality carbon offset projects to the market, providing our customers with unique and meaningful projects.
Aggregated rooftop solar enables multinational corporate to meet renewable energy goals
A large corporation with facilities around the globe wanted to address their emissions from electricity in the Asia Pacific region. With 3Degrees’ help, the company signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from an offsite aggregated solar rooftop project spanning more than 500 buildings. New renewable energy opportunities are difficult to bring to fruition in many Asian nations, but we were able to identify and source this opportunity to support the client’s need for renewable energy and also support their energy load by integrating this project into their retail energy contract. Additionally, this deal structure had never been done locally before, positioning the company as a market leader.
Although the client had extensive experience executing renewable energy transactions in the United States, the client’s needs globally present fundamentally different challenges. Many of their facility loads are comparatively small, in nations with limited renewable resources or infrastructure and corporate purchasing is in its infancy.
Navigating energy markets in Asia can be particularly challenging and potentially risky due to rapidly evolving market conditions and regulatory environments. In this case, the location of interest had land constraints and a relatively small local renewable energy industry. These limitations made it impossible to use competitive commercial renewable contracts or to access cost-effective utility-scale projects. It required a unique solution with a deal structure that had never been executed in this region.
How we helped
3Degrees designed and executed a strategy to source renewable energy supply that could serve the client’s own facilities, as well as be available to trusted partners.To do this, we conducted market price and risk analysis based on historical price fluctuations and power market structure. Once the client understood the market and risks, we helped them develop a targeted list of project opportunities and conducted due diligence on the most suitable projects. With the targeted project concept and strategy agreed on, the client needed to develop direct relationships with local entities as this was a new concept and involved many stakeholders. To do this, 3Degrees provided introductions between the client, project developers, energy retailers and technology providers. With all stakeholders in agreement, we supported the client in the early stage of contract negotiations.
- Client signed a long-term PPA for power generated by an aggregated portfolio of commercial and residential rooftop solar PV; the power is delivered via a power retailer to the company’s facilities
- Installations spanned more than 500 buildings
- Reduced client’s energy costs as compared to the standard energy mix from their previous provider
- Client is now expanding its international renewable portfolio to other regions
More on 3Degrees Energy and Climate Consulting
Western Washington is an area of the country widely known for cloudy skies. As the popularity of solar power grew around the country, residents of the Pacific Northwest tended to look the other way, incorrectly classifying solar as not for me. In 2013 as PSE and their 3Degrees support team set out to grow the program, they thought the misconception over solar could actually be used to their advantage.
The effort, coined “Year of the Sun,” was a year-long campaign that positioned solar energy at the core of its marketing and outreach efforts. Of course the resource was always positioned as one of a mix of fuels but by leading with highly recognizable solar, customers could more easily make the jump to what defines “renewables” and get one step closer to understanding the choice before them.
The campaign plan emphasized multiple impressions that built off of one another along with strict adherence to branding styles across all channels:
- Digital and print media (paid and earned)
- Direct marketing through the mail and bill package
- Person to person outreach
- Solar and sunshine themed thank you gifts
By the end of the year, the campaign reached over 100,000 account holders and resulted in 10,000 new PSE Green Power program participants – the greatest increase over a single year in the history of the program. It also earned media attention in several local publications, hundreds of views of the Solar Works video and new social media followers. Traffic to the green power web pages also increased by 58%.
Once target participation and expanded awareness goals were met, the campaign was deemed a success. Just the same, winning an award doesn’t hurt. In 2014 the campaign was recognized at the Renewable Energy Markets conference for its effort in building the green power market as the first ever winner of CRS’ Leadership in Green Power Education.
3Degrees outreach team attended hundreds of events ranging from farmers markets and chamber meetings; and knocked on thousands of doors.
PSE’s Green Power Program is one of the largest in the country and consistently appears on NREL Top Ten lists for participation and overall sales. 3Degrees has partnered with PSE on their Green Power Program since 2009. Since then program participation has increased by 21,000 new accounts. A number of tactics including direct marketing and outreach are used throughout the year to manage attrition and ensure growth.
Wind Power Revitalizes Remote Community
In addition to pollution-free power wind farms, such as Rollins Wind in Maine, provide income stream to landowners and boost rural economies with tax revenue and stability. The project itself has a total capacity of 60 megawatt but the real story lies in the economics.
Located just outside four small communities in Penobscot county Rollins Wind is Maine-made energy without question. From planning through completion project developers First Wind, now SunEdison, was committed to maximizing the economics for Maine. During construction 97 Maine-based companies were engaged, including 19 in the immediate area, bringing an impressive $29 million to the state. Additionally, during construction restaurants were full and hotels were sold out thanks to the over 500 contractors utilized over the 2 year construction period – with as many as 200 full-time positions during peak construction, including day-to-day management roles.
The project continues to have positive incremental impact for the county. For at least 30 years Rollins is expected to provide an estimated tax revenue totaling $24 million to surrounding communities. This money creates stability for governments and reduces burden on tax payers. Lincoln, the projects nearest neighbor expects $260,000 every year for the next 30 years. “We can put up street lights with that… That’s money that we don’t have to ask taxpayers for,” said Town Manager Lisa Goodwin. Within the first year, Lincoln moved fast to take advantage of new-found funds to purchase needed equipment including a new plow truck, pickup, police cruiser, and completing necessary paving projects. “Having a wind farm in this community and its tax revenue helps us attract other businesses,” adds Will Labrie, Executive Director of the Lincoln Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We already had natural resources, but now we have improved infrastructure and a stable tax base.”
Wind power projects keep land usable for other activities
For some, the biggest opportunity comes from protecting lands from other development. “Wind power allows large landowners the opportunity to maximize the value of their land. That helps preserve large tracts of land for public use,” said Bob Meyers, Executive Director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. Without, landowners face increasing pressure to sell or subdivide. “If that trend is allowed to continue, we will see an erosion of outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Rollins Wind’s 40 1.5 megawatt wind turbines generate enough power for estimated 23,000 homes annually.
 http://wind.sunedison.com/projects/rollins/ https://youtu.be/AwvpwF7cg2U
See a sampling of the projects we work with: