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Silicon Valley Community Choice Programs Moving Forward: Two CEOs Hired

San-Mateo-Peninsula Clean EnergyPeninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, both newly formed, took substantial strides in recent weeks toward preparing their programs for launch. The nascent effort in San Jose is also moving down the tracks.

Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), encompassing all twenty cities plus the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, established its joint powers authority (the governance structure for the utility) in March. One of its board’s first decisions was to adopt a fast-track launch schedule that will start enrolling customers on October 1 of this year. To accomplish this rapid ramp-up schedule, in April they hired Noble Americas Energy Solutions to handle their data management services and call center. They also hired the marketing company Circlepoint to coordinate customer engagement.

At its board meeting on May 12th, PCE’s chair, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, announced the hiring of Jan Pepper as the organization’s first CEO. Pepper has a long history of work in the energy field including serving most recently as the Electric Division Manager of Silicon Valley Power (the city of Santa Clara’s municipal utility). Previously she worked as Assistant General Manager of Alameda Municipal Power, was the president of three energy companies, and served as a member of the board of directors of the Power Association of Northern California. Currently she also sits on the Los Altos city council.

PCE’s community choice energy program will feature several distinctive attributes:

  • The program will offer member cities the option to automatically enroll their residents and businesses into a default 100% renewable energy package. (The town of Portola Valley has expressed interest in this option and several other cities are also considering it.) Customers enrolled under this arrangement will have the choice of “opting down” to a less expensive, 50% default renewable energy package. It is currently estimated that customers living in average-sized residential homes who choose the 100% option will pay about $5 more per month than they presently pay for PG&E’s electricity.
  • Although the program will launch in three phases over PCE’s first year of operation, residential customers who are enthusiastic about joining will be able to do so as “early adopters” during the first phase of enrollment starting October 1.
  • PCE is encouraging the cities in its program to select the 100% renewable energy package for their municipal operations.

 

SVCE-logoSilicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE), which includes twelve cities in Santa Clara County, held the second meeting of its board of directors on May 11. During the meeting the board formally selected Tom Habashi as its CEO. Habashi served, until recently, as the Director of Roseville, CA’s municipal utility for a dozen years and prior to that, he was Assistant Director of Resource Management for the City of Palo Alto Utility for 14 years. He will start work for SVCE later this month.

Additionally, at its meeting, SVCE’s board selected Cupertino city council member Rod Sinks as its chair and Rob Rennie, city council member from Los Gatos, as its vice chair.

SVCE is taking a slower path to starting their program compared to the fast track selected by Peninsula Clean Energy. The board has not yet established its default renewable energy package and will do so after the first of the year. Following that, they hope to launch their program on April 1, 2017. They expect to do so in three phases but have not yet set the timing of those phases, which could be between seven and nineteen months. To help the board make decisions on these matters, this summer they will conduct a survey of residents and businesses in their service area. In coming months they will also explore various start-up financing options.

 

dh_siliconvalley_2_677x380_FitToBoxSmallDimension_CenterThe City of San Jose has issued its Request for Proposal for their community choice energy program.  Proposals are due on May 27.  San Jose is seeking proposals from qualified firms to provide consulting services supporting San José Clean Energy, including development of a technical study and assisting with community engagement planning and implementation. To avoid conflict of interest, the city has decided that the consultant who works on the technical study will be precluded from submitting proposals or bids as a prime contractor or subcontractor for the program. The technical study is planned to be ready by the end of November 2016. Link to the RFP.

 

What’s New with Community Choice Energy in San Jose?

By Ruth Merino, Chair of San Jose Community Energy

Community Choice Energy in San Jose is moving forward with approval for exploring the program from the City Council. This past year, San Jose Community Energy, a group of San Jose residents, worked closely with the Center for Climate Protection to advocate for a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program and perform community and business outreach. The Center for Climate Protection had already been doing advocacy and outreach work in San Jose for several years.

san jose community choice - vote

Green dots show “yes” votes for Community Choice

On March 1st of this year, the City Council took a significant step and approved a report from the City’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) recommending the issuance of a CCE Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP will be issued for an entity to provide comprehensive CCE development (including a technical study and community outreach), finance, launch, and to operate a CCE program at rates competitive with PG&E. The City Council also asked for an analysis and comparison using the technical study data of a “public option,” i.e., a CCE program to be operated by the City.

On March 29, the City Council approved Mayor Sam Liccardo’s annual City budget message, which included $300,000 and a proposal to modify the March 1st Council action. The budget allocation and modification would direct staff to release an RFP for a technical study, rather than a more comprehensive service-provision proposal with a technical study. The funding is to be included in the next budget, which begins on July 1, 2016. The Mayor’s budget message direction will be used by the City Manager in May to prepare the City’s next budget. The City Manager’s proposed budget will be considered for City Council approval at the end of June.

Mayor Liccardo noted in his budget message that as part of the process to explore CCE in efforts to achieve the City’s ambitious renewable energy goals, “a technical study must be conducted to determine the feasibility for launching a CCA [CCE] in San Jose. This critical analysis would analyze such issues as financial viability, energy loads, our customer base, rate competitiveness, governance models, renewable energy scenarios, and employment impacts.” We anticipate that the City Council will approve the funding in June and that the City’s ESD will issue a Request for Proposal and Qualifications for the technical study this summer.

Ruth Merino, head of San Jose Community Energy, and Margaret Bruce, our expert Silicon Valley consultant give thumbs up following the vote.

Ruth Merino, head of San Jose Community Energy, and Margaret Bruce,
our expert Silicon Valley consultant give thumbs up following the vote.

Ruth Merino is the Chair of San Jose Community Energy. If you are interested in learning more about SJCE, which meets monthly, please visit www.sanjosecommunityenergy.org or e-mail Ruth at info@sanjosecommunityenergy.org