San Jose Approves Clean Energy Program

San Jose approved a program Tuesday to pool funds from residents to purchase energy from green sources, becoming the largest city in the country to do so.

Several other Bay Area communities have established such programs, known as Community Choice Energy programs. They are an alternative to purchasing power from the major state utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric in this case.

The City Council unanimously passed the program, which Mayor Sam Liccardo said would see San Jose purchase power from at least one alternative provider for “100 percent greenhouse gas-free” energy in the first two years.

San Jose began researching its program in 2011, a year after Marin County passed its pioneering clean energy program.

Other programs have started in the state since then in Sonoma County, San Francisco and San Mateo County. Silicon Valley Clean Energy, which covers 12 cities and unincorporated parts of Santa Clara County, began a program this year.

For San Jose, a city that produces 22.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the program was a win for environmental protection groups that have been lobbying for it.

“This is a really big deal,” said Center for Climate Protection deputy director Barry Vesser. “This is the largest city in California to adopt the program, and it’s going to change the energy landscape for the state as other counties come along.”

Alameda County, Davis and Yolo County, and Los Angeles County have also begun exploring their own community choice programs, according to a recent UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs report.

The center believes that by 2020, 60 percent of California’s energy market will be served by sources under community choice programs.

The programs, legally known as Community Choice Aggregation programs, allow utility customers to choose to buy their electricity from greener sources that are at times cheaper than PG&E. They can also choose to opt out of their community’s program and stick with PG&E.

PG&E said, “We respect the energy choices that are available to our customers, and will continue to cooperate with local governments as they consider pursuing (or) developing a CCA program.”

Nicholas Cheng is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: ncheng@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @nichocheng

Bay Area programs

Marin Clean Energy

Sonoma Clean Power

San Francisco

Peninsula Clean Energy

Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Sources: UCLA & Clean Power Exchange

San Jose Approves Clean Energy Program, by Nicholas Cheng, SFGATE, May 16, 2017.

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