When Communities Choose Their Energy, They Get a Better Deal

“Silicon Valley continues to lead the nation in the transition to a clean energy economy. In addition to driving innovation at some of the world’s leading cleantech companies, residents and businesses in the region will soon be able to participate in community choice energy programs providing new energy offerings from clean and renewable sources.

The Silicon Valley Clean Energy Authority was formed to develop just such a program. This new community choice program will serve business and residential energy customers in the cities of Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, Campbell, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill and unincorporated Santa Clara County. And it isn’t the only one in formation. San Mateo County and San Francisco have plans to launch community choice programs in 2016. In addition, the San Jose City Council will be taking up the matter shortly. In total, community choice energy programs are currently at some stage of development across nearly 80 communities in California.”

Read more from Jigar Shah and Russ Hancock in Green Tech Media.

Silicon Valley benefits from community choice in energy

“Big and positive changes are underway in Silicon Valley for renewable energy.

Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and their cities are voting to establish Community Choice Energy programs, laying the foundation for the 21st Century energy system. In place of the old, centralized, linear, fossil-fueled system, a new structure that is like an Internet of energy is emerging — intelligent and interactive, distributed, efficient, resilient and fueled by renewables.”

Read more from Jeff Byron and Ann Hancock, San Jose Mercury, February 26, 2016

Sonoma Clean Power continues to lead the way on clean power and low rates

sonoma-clean-power-logoSonoma Clean Power launched in 2014 with rates below PG&E. SCP’s standard plan is to set rates once per year. When it had its first chance to raise rates in April 2015, it chose to keep them unchanged from the previous year. This year the staff proposal is to actually reduce rates. As things stand, the average SCP customer generation rates are about 1% below PG&E’s comparable rates. The proposed rate reduction would double that savings.

On the greenhouse gas and clean power front, SCP has surpassed the state mandated 33% renewable content by 2020 with a 36% renewable energy content, six years ahead of schedule. SCP’s overall portfolio is about 80% greenhouse gas free, 48% below PG&E’s greenhouse gas content.

Unfortunately, the decades-long trend of the three large utilities to increase their rates, usually more than once per year, has continued. On January 1st a sharp increase in PG&E rates and increased PG&E fees on other service providers like Sonoma Clean Power, caused many energy customers to notice, as pointed out in a recent article in the Press Democrat. PG&E is on track to meet the state renewable energy standard by 2020 with a current portfolio that includes about 27% renewable energy.

The next Ratepayer Advisory Committee meeting will be on April 12th when the staff proposal will be reviewed one last time prior to going to the SCP Governing Board, and of course, Sonoma Clean Power’s meetings are open to the public. See you there!

San Bernardino County Energy Symposium Draws Desert Preservation Activists and Elected Officials

Woody at SBern Symp

Woody Hastings (front row left) and Bill Powers (front row right) share their experience and knowledge of the renewable energy model known as Community Choice Aggregation while state, county, water and business leaders listen and take note.

Photo caption: Woody Hastings (front row left) and Bill Powers (front row right) share their experience and knowledge of the renewable energy model known as Community Choice Aggregation while state, county, water and business leaders listen and take note.

About 100 community leaders and clean energy advocates convened for a Local Energy Symposium on January 25th, hosted by the Morongo Basin Conservation Association in Yucca Valley, not far from Joshua Tree National Monument. Earlier in the day, a smaller group of elected officials, water agency representatives, and other stakeholders attended a question-and-answer session focused on Community Choice energy.

It was great to be there with my colleagues Barbara Boswell of Lancaster Choice Energy and Bill Powers, legendary San Diego-based energy engineer, to share our thoughts about Community Choice with the desert community.

The purpose of the Local Energy Symposium was to seek an answer to the question, “Is Community Choice [energy] the smart renewable energy option for the Morongo Basin?” If the spirit of the question-and-answer period was any indication, there is a lot of promise for the Morongo Basin and surrounding region.

Local Radio Station Z107.7FM was on hand to report on the event and share some of the potential benefits of Community Choice energy. One of the top reasons that the region is interested in Community Choice is that they have not been benefitting from the large-scale solar and wind projects and transmission lines in the region. The hope is that with a local Community Choice agency, some of these projects could be developed in a way that creates local jobs and circulates more dollars in the local economy. Further down the road, it is hoped that such an agency would take on more of the decision-making about what kinds of renewable energy projects are developed in the service territory. The more power that is derived from local renewable sources, the less need for long distance transmission lines and towers marring the pristine desert views.

In other areas of San Bernardino County, the City of Fontana has contracted with Good Energy to produce a Technical Study for a possible Community Choice program. And the San Bernardino County Association of Governmentsis pursuing a countywide assessment.

Stay tuned for more exciting news and updates from the desert communities of San Bernardino County!


Energy Democracy: Inside Californians’ Game-Changing Plan for Community-Owned Power

Great article written by Al Weinrub covering the history and benefits of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). He covers the past, present, and future challenges facing CCA. He quotes Clean Power Exchange’s own Woody Hastings on community control and CCA potential for purchasing energy from cleaner sources.

“Nevertheless, the challenges of implementing Community Choice are many. Community Choice energy represents an assertion of community control over energy resources, similar to assertions of community control over water, land, and other vital resources. In the case of energy, and electricity in particular, that control could mean a transition away from fossil and nuclear power and a transition away from the centralized corporate renewable energy model: big solar plantations, big wind farms, and big environmentally destructive transmission lines.”

Energy Democracy: Inside Californians’ Game-Changing Plan for Community-Owned Power, by Al Weinrub, Yes! Magazine, November 12, 2015.