Coastal Advocates Defend Marine Sanctuaries

President Donald Trump may want to expand offshore oil drilling, but it’s no surprise he’s facing pushback in a region known for being one of the most at risk of climate change and where residents are increasingly turning to renewable energy.

San Mateo County officials are urging the federal government to keep protections in place for three national marine sanctuaries spanning the surrounding California coastline.

In an April executive order, Trump requested a review of all marine sanctuaries established or expanded within the last decade — which includes the 2015 expansions of the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, as well as the 2008 expansion of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Explained as an “America-First” energy strategy, Trump seeks areas where offshore oil drilling could take place. But he will undoubtedly face vehement opposition from a region that places high value on its coastline.

 Trump touted it as a way to put the energy needs of American families first — but his order extends toward Bay Area communities where residents are requiring more of their power be delivered by renewables.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution describing Trump’s action as an “unneeded and unwarranted intrusion into settled law” while defending the three sanctuaries as vital to the ecosystem and economy.

Board President Don Horsley, whose district includes the coast, noted the region has a strong history of progressive environmental policies.

“In the state of California, we’ve been fighting to preserve our coastside for decades now, and I don’t want to see any oil drilling on the coastside or the potential of oil spills,” Horsley said. “While the federal administration starts talking about expanding the drilling of oil and gas, we’re really concerned that’s not the way to go. We think it’s better to be looking at renewable sources like solar and wind.”

The county has opted to lead by example, establishing a joint powers authority known as Peninsula Clean Energy. The community choice aggregation program has residents automatically signed up to for receive 50 percent renewables from Pacific Gas and Electric, with options to chose up to 100 percent renewables.

Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, as well as a dozen Silicon Valley cities have all adopted community choice aggregation programs. California has also been a leader in the electric car industry, with robust rebates provided for those looking to ditch their gas-powered engines.

Bordered by both a Bayfront and coastside, San Mateo County has also been described as one of the most at risk of climate change impacts. Billions of dollars of public as well as private infrastructure such as homes, airports, office buildings and wastewater treatment plants line areas where seas are expected to rise, according to a county vulnerability assessment.

Aside from Trump’s orders signaling a regression from local efforts, there are also fears that offshore oil drilling could harm sensitive ecological habitat on which the state and fisheries rely.

The sanctuaries support dozens of marine mammal species, many of which can only thrive in a biologically-rich ecosystem. They’re also part of vital migratory routes for whales and birds that hold international significance, as well as an important breeding ground and forging area for numerous protected species, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Debbie Ruddock, Half Moon Bay’s mayor and legislative affairs coordinator for the California Coastal Conservancy, said offshore drilling is rich for hazards.

She noted some old wells continue to leak into sensitive habitat, closing beaches and harming wildlife.

“In California, we have a $50 billion coastal economy and the components of that are tourism, but also commercial fisheries,” Ruddock said. “Anything that might pollute our ocean waters like offshore ocean drilling has potentially devastating impacts to the state’s economy, including the San Mateo County economy. It’s been found marine sanctuaries and protected areas have been very successful in regenerating Pacific Coast fishery stock and helping increase the survival of marine animals.”

The public has until July 26 to offer comments following Trump’s executive order, and Ruddock urged people to make their voices heard.

 “Removing protected status is only regressive,” Ruddock said.

The Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries more than doubled in size following NOAA’s 2015 decision under former President Barack Obama. Cordell, which is located just north of San Francisco, expanded from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. The Farallones, which stretch offshore from the northern tip of San Mateo County to Point Arena, was increased from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles, according to NOAA.

The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary stretches from Marin to Cambria, protecting 6,094 square miles of marine habitat that was also expanded under former President George W. Bush in 2008. It was originally designated in 1992 and provides an abundance of wildlife such as 34 marine mammals, more than 180 species of birds and 525 species of fish, according to NOAA.

Federal protections were expanded to the areas after years of input and research, prompting officials to question Trump’s attempt to unravel designations in a region that places indefatigable importance on its coastline.

“California residents and our state’s economy depend on a clean and healthy ocean. The Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries protect our fishing communities, our tourism industry and the world-renowned beauty of our state,” U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in an email. “Our sanctuaries are settled law and have broad public support. President Trump should leave them alone.”

Coastal Advocates Defend Marine Sanctuaries, by Samantha Weigel, The Daily Journal, July 15, 2017.

CleanPowerSF Brings Cleaner Electricity to San Francisco

Opinion

What if we could power our homes with 100 percent clean energy at competitive rates? San Francisco has a new default electricity provider called CleanPowerSF, and residents are being enrolled one neighborhood at a time. The change is automatic: unless you deliberately opt out, electricity served to your home will soon come from 40 percent renewable sources like wind and solar.

Over the past few decades, the cost of electricity from wind and solar has fallen dramatically. At the same time, demand for clean power has increased worldwide. These go hand in hand: as prices come down, more wind and solar are installed, and as demand increases, the technologies mature and become less expensive. Because of this virtuous cycle, one of the easiest ways to support clean power in California is to buy electricity from local wind and solar providers.

CleanPowerSF is a new Community Choice Aggregation program administered by SF Public Utilities, the same folks who provide our Hetch Hetchy tap water. Here’s how it works: CleanPowerSF buys electricity on behalf of SF residents and businesses, at least 40 percent coming from renewable resources like solar and wind. The power is delivered over the existing power lines, PG&E will continue to manage billing and your electricity rates are not expected to increase.

In fact, CleanPowerSF plans to offer lower rates, possible in part due to the low cost of new contracts for solar and wind energy. While there is no guarantee about future rates, the bottom line is that SF residents should not anticipate an appreciable change in their electric bill. Low-income discounts through CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline will continue to apply, as will rebates for energy efficiency.

When your neighborhood switches to CleanPowerSF, residents are put on the default “Green” plan, which provides 40 percent renewable energy. CleanPowerSF also offers a 100 percent renewable “SuperGreen” plan at a higher rate ($5-20 per month depending on your electricity use). By choosing 100 percent clean energy, you can increase demand for renewable energy and further support the continued growth of wind and solar power in California. When you receive a mailer from CleanPowerSF, give them a call and ask about upgrading your service to SuperGreen.

To be sure, most of us in San Francisco are perfectly happy with our present electric service. We appreciate the reliability and we know how to read our bill. But in moving to CleanPowerSF, we won’t notice any changes, as distribution service and billing will continue exactly as before.

If you’re concerned about the change, call up CleanPowerSF or visit their website. And if you can afford the SuperGreen 100 percent renewable plan, it’s a great way to increase your impact at a reasonable cost. CleanPowerSF presents an unprecedented opportunity: it has never been easier to support the rapid growth of renewable energy in California.

Aryeh Gold-Parker is a PhD student at Stanford University studying new materials for solar panels. He lives in San Francisco.

CleanPowerSF Brings Cleaner Electricity to San Francisco, by Aryeh Gold-Parker, San Francisco Examiner, July 10, 2017.

Harbor District Makes Switch to Clean Energy

The San Mateo County Harbor Commission voted unanimously at its June 21 meeting to adopt Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 program that uses only clean and renewable energy sources.

The switch would affect Pillar Point Harbor, the district’s administration office in El Granada and the Oyster Point Marina in South San Francisco.

District officials say using clean energy is one thing they can do to mitigate sea level rise and climate change, which is keenly important to the harbors.

 “The Harbor District is working on facility upgrades and maintenance efforts that are a direct result of climate change,” said John Moren, director of operations for the Harbor District in a statement put out by the district. “It’s great that we are doing our part to proactively reduce the factors which contribute to sea level rise.”

Harbor District Makes Switch to Clean Energy, Half Moon Bay Review, July 5, 2017.

PUC Will Consider Changing Energy Exit Fee

The California Public Utilities Commission has decided to review the mechanism by which Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and other investor-owned utilities are compensated when customers switch to community choice aggregators, such as Marin Clean Energy.

The utilities and the community choice aggregators agree that the current mechanism for compensation is flawed. They are at odds, however, over how it should be changed or what should replace it.

MCE, formerly known as Marin Clean Energy, and other aggregators must pay the utilities a “power charge indifference adjustment (PCIA),” a fee to compensate them for the energy they purchased to serve the departing customers. The fee was imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure that customers remaining with the utilities would not end up footing the entire cost.

In April, the utilities requested that the exit fee be replaced with another compensating mechanism.

“By all accounts, the current methodology for allocating costs and benefits among these customer groups is fundamentally broken,” the utilities wrote in their application.

The application went on to state: “The current approach forecasts costs based on administratively-determined estimates of hypothetical future market prices, with no true-up for actual costs. Because this complex process is not and cannot be based on actual, current market prices, it results in cost shifts between customer groups.”

ANALYZE COST

Last month, the CPUC declined the utilities’ request saying it was premature, but the commission has said it will consider the proposal in a more thorough review of the exit fee.

“The growth of community choice aggregation requires the CPUC to closely analyze cost sharing between customers who stay with a utility and customers who leave for a community choice aggregator,” said Commissioner Carla Peterman in a statement. “This proceeding will holistically examine cost sharing issues by taking into account the concerns raised by a wide range of organizations interested in this topic.”

MCE has about 255,000 customers. It serves Marin County and all of its municipalities; Napa County and its municipalities; as well as the municipalities of Walnut Creek, Richmond, Lafayette, Benicia, El Cerrito and San Pablo. On July 20, MCE’s board will decide whether to add Contra Costa County and eight municipalities in that county, which could add an additional 230,000 customers.

Regarding the CPUC review of the exit fee, Dawn Weisz, MCE’s executive officer, said, “We see this as a very positive development. We’ve been urging the commission to address the deficiencies in the PCIA since 2012. We’re very pleased that the commission will now be looking at the issue in a comprehensive way.”

RATE DIFFERENCES

In January 2016, the CPUC approved PG&E’s request for a steep increase in the exit fee, despite objections by MCE. The increase nearly doubled the exit fee and made PG&E’s overall rates at the time lower than MCE’s. Today, MCE’s rates are slightly lower than PG&E’s. Fifty-five percent of MCE’s “light green” electricity product comes from renewable sources while 30 percent of PG&E’s electricity comes from renewable sources. A typical MCE household pays nearly $13 a month in exit fees.

The exit fee is calculated annually and adopted at the beginning of each year based on a forecast of the projected costs of energy for the next year. It is based on the difference between the price paid by the investor-owned utility for the energy and the average market prices. All energy customers pay the fee regardless of whether they buy their electricity from a utility or a community choice aggregator, such as MCE.

“The problem is there is no transparency into the calculation and the contracts that the investor-owned utilities have in their portfolios,” Weisz said. “It’s a very black box methodology when you can’t see the contracts that our customers are having to pay for.

“We think that when the power is sold off into the market it needs to be sold at the highest value possible not dumped in the spot market, which is what we’re seeing,” Weisz said. “These excess energy volumes are being undervalued when they’re sold off in the market and that means that customers are having to pay more to cover the above-market cost of that power.”

EXCESS ENERGY

Weisz said the new methodology that the utilities are seeking approval for would allow them to continue selling excess energy for less than it is worth. She said the methodology would also allow the utilities to transfer excess energy contracts to community choice aggregators without allowing for price negotiation. And it would permit them to transfer renewable energy certificates (RECs) to aggregators.

Weisz said that while the utilities purchase these RECs bundled with the renewable-source electricity they represent, the transfer would automatically convert them into unbundled RECs.

“By law, the energy has to be delivered at the same time that the clean attribute is delivered and to the same party,” Weisz said.

An “unbundled, renewable energy certificate” is a credit that, when purchased, allows the buyer to legally claim ownership of 1 megawatt hour of renewable electricity. It has been “unbundled” from the actual renewable electricity that was generated.

MCE has been criticized in the past for using too many “unbundled” RECs to meet its targets for renewable energy use. Critics of unbundled RECs say they are often priced too low to finance the energy generation they represent. Over the last two years, MCE has curtailed its use of these RECs; currently they account for only about 3 percent of MCE’s renewable electricity.

PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras declined to respond to any of the issues raised by MCE.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with all parties through this process to ensure that all customers are treated fairly and equally,” Contreras said. “Everyone agrees that the current formula is broken and out-of-date, and that’s why it’s critically important to address these inequities in a timely fashion.”

PUC Will Consider Changing Energy Exit Fee, by Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, July 7, 2017.

San Ramon Council to Consider Joining MCE Clean Energy

The San Ramon City Council is set to hold a public hearing on the city’s proposed plan to join MCE Clean Energy as a community choice energy provider at its meeting Tuesday night.

In the wake of an online survey the city released a few weeks ago requesting community feedback on the plan, the council will review the community’s responses, and then, if applicable, conduct a public hearing that would introduce the ordinance approving the MCE joint powers agreement and authorizing the implementation of a community choice aggregation program.

If approved, the ordinance would be adopted at the council meeting on July 11, though the service would launch sometime next year, potentially in May 2018.

“It is the intent of MCE to promote the development and use of a wide range of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency programs including by not limited to solar and wind energy production at competitive rates for customers,” according to the proposed resolution up for adoption.

Community choice energy (CCE) programs were first implemented in 2002 as a way to allow Californians to choose their electric provider and the source of their electricity — especially for residents wanting to use renewable energy sources. A CCE provider pools consumer electricity demand within a certain region in order to procure energy and sell it to customers.

In San Ramon’s case, the CCE program would be responsible for purchasing power, but the actual transmission of electricity would still be provided by PG&E’s transmission lines, and customers would continue to pay for electricity and gas through PG&E.

After hearing presentations from MCE and East Bay Community Energy, the council instructed staff to start the process of joining MCE, while simultaneously reaching out to the community for direct feedback.

If adopted, residents could choose from a few different MCE plan options, all with PG&E’s base electric delivery fee of $54.25 and an additional $13.25 for choosing a different electric generation plan.

According to an MCE cost comparison chart within the council’s staff report, MCE Light Green, which uses 50% renewable energy, comes out to a total monthly cost of about $98. MCE Deep Green, which derives its energy from 100% renewable sources, would cost approximately $102 per month, while MCE’s 100% solar plan comes out to about $131.

Customers can also choose to opt out of MCE and remain with PG&E as their electric provider, which, by the same comparison chart, uses 30% renewable energy sources and costs consumers about $98 per month.

At any point, details the MCE plan, customers can opt out of MCE service or opt up to one of the 100% renewable energy options.

The online community feedback survey received 208 responses, with 49% expressing support for the city joining MCE and 51% opposing the proposal. More specifically, 18% of respondents said they would opt for 50% renewable energy through MCE, 34% chose the 100% option and 48% stipulated they would stay with PG&E for their energy provider.

Public comments were ambivalent; many expressed distrust of a new provider and cited needing further details before being able to appropriately respond to the survey.

“I’d like to see more information about costs and reliability of supply of renewable sources,” read one comment.

Another said, “Sadly, I don’t think this should even be discussed without fully presenting the costs for residential customers. Can customers who already have solar on their rooftops participate? Will those of us that have time of use rates be affected? If yes, how?”

A few were more enthusiastic, though: “Thank you for giving us this choice,” a respondent wrote. “Green, renewable energy choice is the direction of the future and I’m proud that my city is going in that direction.”

In other business

* The City Council will discuss the possibility of implementing an Interim Study Overlay Zone (IS Zone) for the Crow Canyon Specific Plan (CCSP) area. A high volume of applications for development projects in the CCSP this past year led the City Council and Planning Commission to hold a joint workshop back in April to talk about the potential impact of projects in the area, particularly regarding density concerns.

An IS Zone would require a “study plan,” crafted by the Planning Commission and City Council, that would identify land use issues of concern in the CCSP and concretize an overall vision for the area — potential projects would need to demonstrate that they adhere to the vision of this “study plan.”

The Planning Commission Ad Hoc Committee recommended that an IS Zone not be initiated, but rather that the council and commission proceed with a Specific Plan Amendment to focus on CCSP density issues at hand.

* The council is set to conduct a public hearing regarding a resolution to adopt the diagram and levy of assessments for the Landscaping and Lighting District. This is the third and final step required before the resolution can be passed, following the approval of an engineer’s report in May.

The district was formed in 1984 and has been re-established every year according to the Landscaping and Lighting Act of 1972. It includes two citywide zones and 17 special zones; residents within each zone pay an annual assessment to maintain public landscaping and street lighting within their respective zones.

Most zones will see an increase in assessment of $1.31 per unit, though a few assessments will increase by about $11, while other zones will be subject to decreases of up to $98.

* The council members will hold a special meeting immediately before the regular meeting, during which time they will consider Contra Costa County committee interviews along with appointments to the Contra Costa County Mosquito and Vector Control District board of trustees and to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee.

* Both meetings will be held at City Hall at 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road, with the special meeting taking place at 6 p.m. and the regular meeting an hour later at 7 p.m.

San Ramon Council to Consider Joining MCE Clean Energy, by Erika Alvero, Danville San Ramon, June 26, 2017.

Antioch Council Tables Proposal for Community Choice Energy Program

At the June 13 meeting of the Antioch City Council, councilmembers declined to move forward with a proposal that would have resulted in all current Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customers in Antioch being automatically enrolled as customers of Marin Clean Energy (MCE).

As explained in the City Staff report on the agenda item, in 2002, the Governor signed a law that allows any city in California, “to combine the electricity load of its residents and businesses in a community-wide aggregation program known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)” through a joint powers agency, such as MCE, which was established in 2008. Staff Report on MCE for Antioch Council 06-13-17

So far most of the 19 cities in Contra Costa County and the County have joined, with El Cerrito, Lafayette, Richmond and San Pablo currently being served. Concord, Oakley, Pittsburg, Danville, Moraga and the County have voted to join during the current inclusion period. As of the June 13th meeting, Martinez, Pinole and San Ramon were still deciding whether or not to join.

In 2009, the Antioch City Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.  Then, in May of 2011, the City Council adopted the Municipal Climate Action Plan, which outlines ways in which the City can meet the emissions reduction goals previously set, including through the purchase of renewable energy.

MCE’s energy procurement plan targets more than 50% renewable energy content.  PG&E’s standard energy procurement option is 32% renewable.  Data provided in the staff report estimated the cost of a user consuming 500 kWh per month to be $112.27 per month under the PG&E plan, and $111.97 under the MCE default plan.  The amount of emissions estimated under the MCE default plan is less than that emitted under the PG&E default plan.

However, PG&E also provides a “50% solar choice option” which, according to the documents, would provide for less emissions than the MCE default plan.

Both PG&E and MCE also have options available for customers that provide for 100% renewable sources, which bring estimated emissions to zero.  These plans are more expensive for customers, the PG&E plan estimated to cost $125.32 and the MCE plan estimated to cost $116.97 per month for the 500kWh consumer.

A provision in the MCE agreement would allow customers to opt out within 60 days at no charge, and to opt out beyond that time for a fee.

A staff presentation explained that a survey of residents asking their preference generated slightly over 100 resident responses, with approximately 55% supporting joining MCE, and 40% preferring to remain with PG&E.

Council members, though, expressed concern that many residents do not know about the proposed action to switch energy providers, or about their ability to opt out and stay with PG&E.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno said that, although he was a strong advocate of clean energy and the environment, he believed residents were not informed about the potential action they were contemplating, and how to opt out.

“I want to make sure that everyone is absolutely in the know,” he said.

Council Member Lori Ogorchock said there were, “only 130 out of 114,000 people in this survey.  People don’t know.  They have no clue.”  She discussed the idea that there is already choice to buy renewable energy from PG&E, and discussed the fact that many residents are on a fixed income.  “The reason I brought this up last time was to see if people truly knew what was going on.  And they don’t,” Ogorchock stated. “So, in good conscience, I can’t do this.”

Other discussion included Mayor Sean Wright asking how plans contemplated by MCE to build out additional renewable energy sites along the northern waterfront might impact future economic development, and Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe asking questions regarding residents who have already put in solar panels, and whether they receive credit for excess energy generated by them.

Following the discussion of the matter during the May 23rd council meeting Thorpe explained his opposition to joining MCE.

“This is about meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. But what they’re branding themselves as is creating jobs, giving residents choice and reducing their utility bills,” he said. “But there is no guarantee for those things.”

“I feel we as a city didn’t engage the public,” Thorpe added, asking “How are we going to change 33,000 houses’ energy provider without talking to them, first? I just think we should stop.”

Council Member Monica Wilson added her concerns, stating, “I didn’t hear from the others at EBCE (East Bay Community Energy in Alameda County) or from the public. I just didn’t think there was enough information. I just want to give everybody the chance to speak and to hear from the public, first.”

Following discussion at the June 13th meeting, Mayor Wright asked for a motion.  None was provided by any member of the City Council, so the item was tabled.

After the meeting, some members of the public who supported joining MCE, wanted to know if there was still a chance the council could change their minds.

Antioch’s Environmental Resource Coordinator, Julie Haas-Wajdowicz said “The city has to approve it by the end of the month (of June) to be included in this inclusion period. We have to wait for the next inclusion period. Based on the number of cities that are already included in this one, there may not be another inclusion period until after 2018.”

In response to what can be done if Antioch does not join, now, Dawn Weisz of MCE stated, “I think what we can do in the interim, is go through the process of Antioch submitting a letter requesting membership and to be added to the board. But service in the community would likely be delayed for a year or two.”

Haas-Wajdowicz suggested that the council should consider updating the Municipal Climate Action Plan.

Antioch Council Tables Proposal for Community Choice Energy Program, by John Crowder, Antioch Herald, June 22, 2017.

Napa County Buildings to Be Run on 100 Percent Green Energy

Napa County government is going Deep Green to power its many local buildings.

The county already receives 50 percent of its electricity from such sources as wind, solar and biogas. Now it is joining Marin Clean Energy’s Deep Green program with 100 percent renewable energy.

That’s just one more nugget tucked amid the half-billion dollar 2017-18 county budget passed last week by the Board of Supervisors.

“I think this is a great example of the county leading by example,” Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza said.

Napa County will see its annual electricity costs rise by 5 percent, or $100,000, because of the move. That didn’t faze supervisors.

“I’m strongly for Deep Green,” Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht said.

The county’s move could inspire residents and businesses to also go Deep Green, Wagenknecht said. He’s enrolled in the program at his house.

“Depending on how many kids are at home, it’s around $5 more (a month) for Deep Green,” he said.

Deep Green accounts for 1.43 percent of electricity usage in Napa County and its five cities, MCE spokesman Alex DiGiorgio said. The enrollment of county government, with its large buildings ranging from the South Campus to jail, will boost the Deep Green percentage to 3.7 percent.

“The county offices themselves are electricity customers,” he said. “When the county or a city takes action in this way, they often have a dramatic effect on greenhouse gas reduction in their jurisdiction.”

Napa County’s government switch to Deep Green will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,546 metric tons annually, DiGiorgio said. That is equivalent to the amount of carbon sequestered by 1,463 acres of forest in one year.

Marin Clean Energy is a nonprofit that provides electricity generated by renewable energy. It has customers in Napa and Marin counties and the cities of Richmond, Benicia, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

Customers are automatically enrolled in the Light Green 50-percent renewable energy program. Their other choices are Deep Green or to receive electricity from Pacific, Gas and Electric.

PG&E continues to deliver the electricity, read the meters, do the billing and do maintenance and repairs for Marin Clean Energy customers. The big difference is how the electricity is generated.

Marin Clean Energy says its Light Green rates are slightly cheaper than PG&E rates and its Deep Green rates are slightly more expensive. A $98.03 PG&E bill would compare to a $97.76 Light Green bill and $102.21 Deep Green bill. PG&E electricity is 33 percent renewable energy.

Some 91 percent of Napa County customers participate in Marin Clean Energy, as opposed to PG&E, DiGiorgio said. Of that amount, 99 percent are Light Green customers and 1 percent are Deep Green.

Marin Clean Energy has a list of what it calls its Deep Green champion businesses and government agencies. Included are Napa County’s Honig Winery, Hagafen Cellars, McEvoy Ranch, Paupaiz Coffee and Clif Family Winery and Farm, with Napa County soon to come.

Napa County has created a draft climate action plan for the unincorporated areas to comply with state regulations. One carbon-cutting recommendation is for county government to go Deep Green, so the Board of Supervisors has already accomplished that particular item.

Another recommendation is to encourage enough rural businesses and homeowners to go Deep Green to cut 4,005 metric tons of carbon annually. Possibilities include subsidizing Deep Green for low-income customers.

Napa County Buildings to Be Run on 100 Percent Green Energy, by Barry Eberling, Napa Valley Register, June 26, 2017.

You Just Saved Money on Electricity! Find Out How.

You Just Saved Money on Electricity! Find Out How.

Questions about your PG&E bill? When you see Peninsula Clean Energy, note this is not an additional charge. Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) charges replace what you would have paid to PG&E for electric generation. Peninsula Clean Energy saves you money while providing cleaner energy!

Watch this short video to fully understand the changes on your PG&E bill: You candownload the worksheet to calculate your savings and follow along from the PCE website : https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/residents.

Peninsula Clean Energy is a non-profit public agency launched by San Mateo County and all twenty of its cities to meet local environmental goals. PCE buys low-cost renewable energy such as wind and solar power on behalf of all electric customers county-wide, and passes 5% savings on to you. That’s about $24/year less in utility bills for the average household. This change happens automatically, making it easy to enjoy these savings.

Understanding Your Bill

Peninsula Clean Energy partners with PG&E. PG&E continues to maintain the wires, deliver your electricity, and send you one bill. One of the most important changes you’ll see on your bill is on Page 1, which used to list just one line for Electricity. This line is now divided into two parts:

  • Current PG&E Electricity Delivery Charges: This is the amount you pay to PG&E for maintaining the wires and delivering electricity to you.
  • Peninsula Clean Energy Electric Generation Charges: This is the amount you pay to Peninsula Clean Energy for purchasing cleaner electricity on your behalf.

This new line on Page 1 is not an additional charge. PG&E gives you a Generation Credit on Page 3 of your bill showing how much you would have paid for its electricity. You can use this credit to calculate how much you are now saving.

Note that PG&E recently increased its charges for Electricity Delivery and for natural gas for all its customers across California. PG&E also compressed its tier structure resulting in higher rates for customers who use less energy. These changes were enacted by PG&E throughout their California service area, are not related to Peninsula Clean Energy. These changes may result in your overall energy bills being higher this year than last, even while you pay less for electricity generation.

Environmental Benefit

Peninsula Clean Energy is helping cities, residents, and businesses meet their environmental goals! When the average household switches to Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECOplus product with 50% renewable energy, the greenhouse gas savings is equivalent to planting 10 young trees a year, every year.

Want to do more for the climate? Choose 100% renewable energy with ECO100. For the average household, the greenhouse gas savings is equivalent to planting 23 young trees a year, every year.

ECO100 rates are just one cent/kilowatt hour higher than ECOplus – that’s $2-4 a month for most households, less than a latte. Opting up to ECO100 is powerful and easy action you can take for future generations! Opt-up by calling 866-966-0110, or on our website at https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/opt-up.

Your Voice Counts

Peninsula Clean Energy is owned by you! As a non-profit local public agency, PCE is run by a Board of Directors made up of your local elected officials, one from each city in San Mateo County as well as two County supervisors. The board meetings every fourth Thursday of the month are open to the public. See PCE’s website for complete board information.

PCE also just appointed a Citizens Advisory Committee to ensure citizen participation to benefit the region. Congratulations to our local representatives! Click here for a complete roster and meeting information. Citizens Advisory Committee meetings on the third Thursday of the month are also open to members of the public.

Spread the Word

We know that utility bills can be confusing, and we hope our video helps. You can make a difference by sharing it with your friends, neighbors, and coworkers:

You Just Saved Money on Electricity! Find Out How.City of Millbrae, June 22, 2017.

Bringing the Birthplace of Wind Power into the 21st Century

I remember when my dad got his first “car phone.” It was bulky, required an antenna on the window and only worked once in a while. The iPhones we carry in our pockets today, made with three decades of product development, seem otherworldly by comparison.

There’s a similar technology comparison playing out across California.

American wind power was born in the Golden State, where the first large-scale wind farms were built in the 1980’s. Many still generate electricity today, more than 30 years later. But through a process known as repowering, companies are starting to replace vintage turbines with modern equipment.

The transition is akin to moving from a “car phone” to an iPhone.

NextEra Energy and Sonoma Clean Power just broke ground on a full repowering at the Golden Hills North wind farm, replacing 283 turbines from the 80’s with just 20 modern ones capable of generating significantly more electricity.

“[This] allows us to breathe new life into an old project, reduce the impact on the environment, and provide good jobs and meaningful economic benefits for the local economy,” said Daryl Hart, director of development for NextEra Energy Resources.

Other companies are repowering old California projects too. EDF Renewable Energy recently upgraded the Shiloh IV wind farm, originally built in 1989. Just 50 new turbines replaced 235 old machines while quadrupling the project’s capacity to generate electricity.

Elsewhere in California, 21 modern turbines replaced 145 vintage machines at the San Gorgonio project in Riverside County in 2015.

American innovation is on full display at these projects. Decades ago, wind power pioneers figured out a way to generate electricity out of thin air. Through research, entrepreneurship and hard work, today’s turbines are more cost-effective, more reliable, and generate vastly more electricity 22 times more electricity than an average turbine installed in 1990.

Bringing the Birthplace of Wind Power into the 21st Century, by Greg Alvarez, Into the Wind, June 2, 2017.

Fed up with PG&E? Electricity Alternative Coming to Concord

CONCORD — The city has joined Marin Clean Energy, a community choice energy agency that provides solar and wind-generated electricity sources to residential, business and government customers.

Concord residents will be enrolled automatically with Marin Clean Energy unless they opt out during the six-month enrollment period before the service goes live in May 2018.

MCE intends to roll-out a public outreach campaign later this year to educate residents about the company’s services and the process for opting out if they want to remain with PG&E.

Proponents say these alternative energy providers increase the proportion of electricity from renewable sources, reduce greenhouse gas emission; and provide competition, consumer choice and local control. PG&E owns and maintains the transmission lines and handles customer billing for MCE customers.

Operating since 2010, the San Rafael-based not-for-profit supplies power for Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Walnut Creek, Benicia and Lafayette as well as Marin and Napa counties. At least half of the company’s energy comes from renewable sources, but customers may choose to receive 100 percent green electricity for an additional $5 monthly charge.

“It was very important that we have an existing model that’s been functioning,” said Councilman Edi Birsan, explaining why city leaders chose MCE. “It’s also important that we start as soon as possible providing clean energy to our people.”

Mayor Laura Hoffmeister said MCE will give residents choice and help the city reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, as state law requires.

“One of the biggest ways we can also make inroads on this is by using an energy aggregate component that has an ability to provide electric energy in our community that comes from a large amount of non-greeenhouse sources, more green energy,” she said.

If Concord had joined MCE at the beginning 2015 and most residents enrolled, the city would have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 21 percent.

Joining MCE also may yield financial benefits for Concord utility customers in the form of lower electricity bills and cash rebates for solar panel owners who produce more energy than they use. Although MCE does not guarantee that its rates will always be lower than PG&Es, CEO Dawn Weisz said customers pay less about 70 percent of the time.

“We do tend to be able to buy power at more competitive rates and pass that savings along to customers because we aren’t paying shareholder profits,” Weisz said.

Recently, Oakley, Danville, Moraga and Contra Costa County leaders also agreed to join MCE. The company may open an office in Concord or a nearby city to serve the anticipated influx of Central County customers, Weisz said.

Last year, Concord, Pleasant Hill and several other cities partnered with the county to explore the feasibility of forming a separate community choice energy agency or join an established one. Although MCE is waiving its fee to join until June 30, Pleasant Hill is unlikely to do so at this time, according to Assistant City Manager Andrew Murray.

Fed up with PG&E? Electricity Alternative Coming to Concord, by Lisa P. White, The Mercury News, June 5, 2017.