A quiet, growing clean-power movement has been gaining momentum in San Mateo County over the past few years and this month it will benefit all San Mateo County residents. That movement is led by Peninsula Clean Energy, the new default electricity supplier for San Mateo County. PCE began enrolling customers in October, and by the end of April almost 300,000 customers countywide — from residents to tech companies to your local library — will be receiving electricity from PCE. This is good news for our county as we will all be receiving cleaner power at lower rates.
Peninsula Clean Energy is a joint powers authority comprised of the county of San Mateo and all 20 cities. The governing boards representing these jurisdictions all took action to join PCE without a single dissenting vote. Why? Because PCE allows each city to make substantial progress toward meeting their climate action plan goals, provides cleaner power at competitive rates, and will invest in local clean energy projects and programs. The county and each city has a representative on PCE’s board of directors which holds monthly public meetings. This local governance structure ensures public transparency and accountability.
PCE is the fifth Community Choice Energy program to launch in California. Community Choice Energy allows local governments to procure energy for their residents and businesses while power delivery, grid maintenance, metering/billing and customer service functions remain with Pacific Gas and Electric. Under this program, PCE is the default provider of electricity in San Mateo County and customers are automatically enrolled. However, customers always have the clear and simple choice to “opt out” at any time and return to PG&E service.
Peninsula Clean Energy is providing customers with cleaner power than PG&E, and at rates that are approximately 5 percent less than what PG&E currently charges. The default product, ECOplus, contains 50 percent renewable energy, 25 percent carbon free large hydropower and 25 percent system power (typically from natural gas plants). PCE customers are also given the choice to opt up to ECO100, a 100 percent renewable energy option, for a slight premium. Customers receive four written notices in the mail describing their options, and PCE is actively reaching out to local residents to build awareness of its new program.
All residents currently enrolled in discount programs such as CARE or medical baseline automatically continue in these programs with PCE. In addition, PCE offers an electric vehicle rate that’s more affordable than PG&E’s, and its solar net metering rates are more generous than PG&E’s. PCE customers also continue to qualify for all PG&E energy efficiency programs.
PCE is run by a small team of seasoned energy professionals. Its CEO, Jan Pepper, has more than 30 years of energy and utility experience with a focus on renewable energy contracting and financing. George Wiltsee, PCE’s director of Power Resources, also has been in the energy and utility industry for more than 30 years and spent the last nine years at Southern California Edison where he procured much of its renewable portfolio.
The timing is excellent for procuring clean power as costs for solar power are at historic lows and can now beat fossil fuel prices. In fact, PCE just signed a 20-year contract to procure 200 megawatts of power at very attractive rates from a new solar farm that will be built in nearby Merced County.
Peninsula Clean Energy is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and offering customer choice at competitive rates. We’re excited about what Peninsula Clean Energy has to offer and hope you are too. Please contact PCE’s staff or any of your PCE board representatives should you have questions or concerns. And please visit the PCE website at peninsulacleanenergy.com for more information.
Dave Pine and Carole Groom are members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and also serve on the board of directors of Peninsula Clean Energy.
OP-ED: Peninsula Clean Energy Now Serving Entire County, by Carole Groom and Dave Pine, The Daily Journal, April 18, 2017.