The Distance Local Energy Goes to Bring Power to the People
Study Comparing Energy Providers Finds Parallels to Local Foods Movement
By Kat Kerlin on October 12, 2020
"When you go to the grocery store, you can look at an apple and know if it was grown in Chile, Washington or somewhere closer to you by a quick glance at its sticker. But consumers have largely been in the dark when it comes to energy, and how far it has traveled to reach them.
A study published today in the journal Frontiers in Sustainability by the University of California, Davis, sheds light on the lengths alternative energy providers go to bring electrical power to customers.
Consuming electricity closer to its source can reduce greenhouse gases lost in the transport of electrons across the transmission and distribution grid. This can help increase efficiencies and create more self-sustaining, equitable communities. Similar goals are often shared by farm-to-table supporters.
'This study provides a quantitative foundation for a local energy movement, akin to the local food movement,' said co-leading author Rebecca R. Hernandez, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and a founding director of the Wild Energy Initiative in the John Muir Institute of the Environment, and Energy and Efficiency Institute.
The study compared three types of energy providers in California — community choice aggregations, or CCAs; cooperatives; and publicly owned utilities — to learn the distance purchased-energy sources travel to support their consumers, and the makeup of their energy resource portfolio, in 2017. Investor-owned utilities were excluded from the study."