2023 Reflect & Recharge Event Recap

2023 Reflect & Recharge Event Recap

In December, SVCE hosted “Reflect and Recharge,” a special end-of-year event for city/county staff, community stakeholders and elected officials to gather and discuss the state of the decarbonization movement – our efforts to transition to clean energy sources that replace the use of polluting fossil fuels.

Keynote speaker Panama Bartholomy opened the event with celebratory remarks on the progress made so far in building electrification efforts. “This year will be the second straight year that heat pumps outsell gas furnaces across the United States,” adding that they are the top-performing technology available on the appliance market. Bartholomy also commended our local communities for being the spark that set off the statewide movement that advances all-electric new construction with the technical support and leadership provided by SVCE to jurisdictions during the 2019 reach code efforts. He predicts community-led, neighborhood scale efforts as the path forward for decarbonization.

In a fireside chat with State Senators Josh Becker and Dave Cortese, the senators discussed their perspective from state government on the progress of the decarbonization movement. They see youth action as a powerful way to build momentum and create change, and they also highlighted how Silicon Valley is the place for innovation and continued technological successes that will push the movement forward.

Arne Olson of Energy+Environmental Economics presented information on the different pathways to decarbonization to reach the state goals of carbon neutrality by 2045. “What all of these [pathways] lead to is the electricity sector being the linchpin of the transition—the electric utilities with the distribution infrastructure and the CCAs and others that are procuring the clean energy resources that are going to lead us into the future.”

Olson emphasized that existing ways to generate energy from carbon-free sources will be able to meet future electricity demand but that achieving a fully zero-carbon grid will require new technologies to replace retired gas resources that currently provide reliable backup power.

Beth Vaughan, Executive Director of the California Community Choice Association, spoke about the impact that Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) like SVCE, have had on the state’s energy landscape. CCAs have procured almost 14 gigawatts of clean power and battery storage and committed over $25 billion to build and operate these resources. Vaughan notes that although energy utilities and CCAs are facing challenges with procurement mandates and changing climate conditions, she looks forward to increased regional coordination along the West to address these issues.

Each of these speakers highlighted the important role our local communities play in showcasing and advancing policies that support the necessary scaling of solutions to achieve our shared climate goals. SVCE and all stakeholders involved with the decarbonization movement can leverage the power of partnerships to help bring everyone along in the clean energy transition. Overall, 2023 was a year of progress, and as we collectively build success, we can continue to accelerate actions to combat climate change.