Valley Clean Energy holds ‘solar’ workshops

Valley Clean Energy will host two public workshops in October to review upcoming enrollments for PG&E customers who have solar panels.

The workshops, which are designed to review VCE’s solar policies and answer customers’ questions, are set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. in Davis, and again at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14, in the Council Chambers at Woodland City Hall, 300 First St. in Woodland.

Residents of Valley Clean Energy’s service area who had solar panels installed on their roofs or property prior to VCE’s launch in June 2018 have continued as PG&E Net Energy Metered customers. That’s about to change, as VCE begins enrolling these customers starting in January 2020.

VCE’s service area includes the cities of Woodland and Davis as well as the unincorporated area of Yolo County.

At its June meeting, the VCE board of directors voted to begin transitioning existing PG&E metered customers to VCE beginning in January. As a public power supplier operating under state rules for community choice aggregation, VCE follows the regulations regarding the automatic enrollment of customers. These NEM customers will automatically be enrolled in VCE service during their true-up month in 2020.

Enrolling on their “true-up date” allows customers to optimize the use of their energy credits at full retail value, said Mitch Sears, VCE’s interim general manager.

Metered customers will receive notices prior to enrolling with VCE, alerting them to the change. Two notices will be mailed — one during each of the two months prior to the customer’s enrollment date.

Customers who would like to enroll in VCE service prior to their annual true-up date may do so beginning in February 2020. But they should be aware of possible consequences, Sears says.

“It’s important that you know that PG&E will true-up your account prior to your enrollment in VCE, which means that any credits you have will be paid by PG&E at the wholesale level (slightly less than VCE’s rate) and your true-up date will be reset to coincide with the start of your VCE service,” Sears said.

“Before deciding to voluntarily opt into VCE service before your 2020 true-up month, be sure to review your PG&E bill to ensure that you won’t lose credits.”

Valley Clean Energy is a not-for-profit public agency formed to provide electrical generation service to customers in Woodland, Davis, and the unincorporated areas of Yolo County. Its mission is to source cost-competitive clean electricity while providing product choice, price stability, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reductions and reinvestment in the communities we serve.


Valley Clean Energy holds ‘solar’ workshops,  by Woodland Daily Democrat Staff, Woodland Daily Democrat, September 28, 2019.

Valley Clean Energy Tops Renewable Goals – Delivers Cleaner Energy at No Extra Cost to Customers

(From Press Release – Valley Clean Energy) – Valley Clean Energy, Yolo County’s public power supplier, reports that even cleaner and greener energy has been delivered to its electricity customers than was projected at last year’s launch.

“One of our core goals is to supply Woodland, Davis and unincorporated Yolo County with cost-competitive clean energy,” said Tom Stallard, Valley Clean Energy board chair and a Woodland City Council member. “I’m happy to report that this year VCE has exceeded this goal while still matching PG&E’s rates.”

An analysis of VCE’s 2018 power content revealed that the community choice energy program’s Standard Green electricity portfolio included 48 percent renewable energy (all from wind power sources) and was 85 percent carbon-free, Interim General Manager Mitch Sears reports. The majority of VCE customers receive Standard Green energy.

That exceeds original VCE program goals of 42 percent renewable energy, with 75 percent of the total carbon-free, Sears says.

By contrast, PG&E’s standard electricity product for 2018 was only 39 percent renewable, and the average for California as a whole was 31 percent, as estimated by the California Energy Commission.

The VCE board self-certified the upgraded UltraGreen power content at its meeting Thursday, Sept. 12, said Lisa Limcaco, VCE’s Director of Finance and Internal Operations. That option is 100 percent renewable, with 56 percent of the power generated by local small hydroelectric sources and 44 percent generated by wind power.

Limcaco said SMUD (the Sacramento Municipal Utility District), VCE’s contractor, has performed a detailed review of VCE’s power purchases for the 2018 calendar year and has verified the information on the UltraGreen Power Content Label.

The Standard Green product’s power content will be reviewed by a third-party auditor to verify that the content contained in VCE’s report to the California Energy Commission is accurate. The audit report will be completed and submitted by Oct. 1, Limcaco said.

The California Public Utilities Code requires all sellers of electric energy, including VCE, to disclose “accurate, reliable and simple-to-understand information on the sources of energy” that are delivered to their respective customers.

The updated Power Content Label will be available to VCE customers in October.

VCE supplies electricity to 55,000 customer accounts in Woodland, Davis, and unincorporated Yolo County. It is governed by a six-member board made up of elected officials from those jurisdictions.


Valley Clean Energy Tops Renewable Goals – Delivers Cleaner Energy at No Extra Cost to Customers, Press Release, The Davis Vanguard, September 14, 2019.

VCE Costs the Same as PG&E But Delivers More

It’s been a long hot summer, but those cool autumn days aren’t too far off…

And thanks to Valley Clean Energy, local electricity customers are not paying any more to run their air-conditioners than they would have paid under PG&E. At the same time, they are reaping the environmental benefits of a greener energy portfolio.

Community choice programs like VCE can keep their rates competitive by buying electricity through a process that encourages private energy companies to compete to provide clean, renewable power.

Partnering with SMUD, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, also keeps VCE’s rates in line with PG&E’s. SMUD has been doing the kind of work VCE requires for more than 70 years. It has the operational and technical expertise to offer VCE flexible, efficient solutions that will help it be successful over the long term.

Recent frustration over soaring summer energy bills has provided VCE an opportunity to remind its customers that the local utility may cost the same as PG&E but it delivers so much more:

  • Local control: VCE is governed by a six-member board made up of elected officials from the jurisdictions it serves — the cities of Woodland and Davis and the unincorporated area of Yolo County. The board and VCE’s all-volunteer Community Advisory Committee hold their monthly meetings in public, alternating between Davis and Woodland. Members of the public are always welcome.
  • Customer dividends: With no shareholder investors expecting dividends, VCE can “invest” in its customers by rewarding them for their loyalty and support. If VCE does well and meets its financial targets, our customers do well. Dividends will be credited to residential customers on their October bill and to non-residential customers on their October and April bills. The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020.
  • Community investments: VCE and its local partners won a $2.9 million grant last fall from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to install up to 60 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the region. The grant also provides for up to 10 mobile EV chargers and an electric bus serving the community.
  • Going green: VCE’s standard electricity service option is 42 percent renewable and 75 percent carbon-free. It is cost-competitive with PG&E’s standard product, which is 33 percent renewable. Our goal is to eventually increase the percentage of renewable energy in our standard service option.
  • Going greener: VCE customers also have the ability to opt up to the UltraGreen premium service, which is both 100 percent renewable and 100 percent carbon-free. Generated from completely renewable sources including solar and wind energy, UltraGreen costs 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour more than the standard service, so the additional cost typically ranges from $7 to $10 per month, depending on how much electricity is used.

Through Valley Clean Energy, we’re able to take giant steps toward a carbon-free future by purchasing our electric power from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass, bio-waste, geothermal and small hydro projects.

Thanks to Valley Clean Energy, our region’s electricity customers are moving in the right direction.

—Tom Stallard, a member of the Woodland City Council, chairs the Valley Clean Energy board of directors. For more information about VCE, visit


VCE Costs the Same as PG&E But Delivers More, by Tom Stallard, The Davisite, September 6, 2019.

SMUD set to buy PG&E’s only hydroelectric powerhouse on the American River for $10.4 million

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is moving forward with plans to buy a hydroelectric powerhouse and reservoir from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for $10.4 million.

In a joint statement, the local utility providers announced that the Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project — a dam, reservoir, spillway and powerhouse that generates electricity north of Placerville on the South Fork of the American River — would be changing hands after SMUD’s board of directors voted Thursday evening to greenlight the purchase.

The purchase is expected to be finalized in 2020.

PG&E said the power values and generation demand on the grid have been declining, so it has sought to get rid of small hydroelectric plants, especially those that are geographically remote.

The Chili Bar generator, which is the only hydroelectric project that PG&E owns in the American River watershed, provides “marginal economic electric generation benefits for PG&E customers,” the statement said. “In some cases, (PG&E) has transferred such projects to regional entities for a better fit.”

SMUD already owns 11 dams and eight powerhouses upstream from Chili Bar in its Upper American River Project — known as the “stairway of power” – so it has been coordinating with PG&E’s Chili Bar operations for some time, according to the statement.

Read more

Valley Clean Energy not ‘slamming’ customers: Agency warns against illegal practices

Valley Clean Energy — the official, locally governed electricity provider for Woodland, Davis and unincorporated Yolo County — is acting to reassure customers that recent reports of utility fraud are not connected to the agency in any way.

Valley Clean Energy began offering customers clean, low-carbon power in June 2018 and now serves more than 54,000 customers countywide. The nonprofit public agency reinvests its revenues back into the communities it serves.

The reassurance comes after last week’s warning from Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig that residents should beware of utility service providers who are switching customers’ gas or electric service without consent or authorization.

“Residents who filed complaints with the District Attorney’s Office did not know that their service provider was switched until they received a letter from their primary utility service provider confirming their request to switch to another provider for gas or electric services,” Reisig wrote. “None of the residents who filed reports authorized the change.”

Reisig added that the fraudulent switches, all of which affected Woodland customers, occurred in June.

Valley Clean Energy pools the electricity demands of the three communities it serves and purchases power with higher renewable and lower greenhouse gas content than is offered by PG&E, said Mitch Sears, VCE’s interim general manager.

PG&E continues to deliver the electricity, maintain the power lines, handle customer billing and respond to new service requests and emergencies, Sears added.

Customers who want to stay with PG&E for their electricity can opt out of VCE if they wish, he said, adding that VCE “will never fraudulently change a customer’s preferred utility provider.”

“This type of practice, which is called ‘slamming,’ is the method chosen by so-called ‘bad actors’ in the energy industry,” Sears said. “We are a locally controlled agency that would never engage in this type of unscrupulous activity.”

“We support the District Attorney’s efforts to notify VCE and PG&E customers about fraudulent energy-related activities and encourage anyone who has been switched to a new utility provider without permission to report it to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.”

Yolo County residents who suspect they have been “slammed” should call the DA’s fraud hotline at 855-4-YOLO-DA or 530-666-8180, or email


Valley Clean Energy not ‘slamming’ customers, by Woodland Daily Democrat Staff, Woodland Daily Democrat, August 7, 2019.

Valley Clean Energy reaches one year mark

A year into business, Valley Clean Energy recently took steps toward bringing goals set in its mission statement to fruition.

The nonprofit public agency launched in June 2018, providing clean electricity in Woodland, Davis and unincorporated Yolo County.

“Our original vision focused on providing certain benefits that customers didn’t feel they had under one provider including more local control, sustainability, competitive rates, customer choice and reinvestment in the community,” said Jim Parks, director of customer care and marketing.

Hitting on promises of competitive rates and local spending, a dividend program will begin in the fall — sharing company revenue with clientele when VCE meets financial goals. The money will be credited to residential customers once a year on their October bills and twice a year on non-residential customers’ October and April bills.

The board will determine the percentage of cash reserves that will be allocated to dividends “ensuring both optimal program health and customer benefit,” according to a release.

On VCE’s first 12 months, Parks said “Things have gone quite well … I would like to say it’s gone exceedingly well all the time, but there have been some bumps in the road.”

A concern that existed in fall was the possibility of a sizable Power Charge Indifference Adjustment exit fee increase that didn’t end up happening.

As of July, VCE’s residential rate for the standard service level, including the PCIA charge, matched Pacific Gas & Electric’s although it provides 42% renewable energy compared to PG&E’s 33%, according to Parks. Paying the same amount for greener power with the possibility of a bonus in the form of the dividend is a way the provider is highlighting its perks.

VCE’s standard service is also 75% carbon-free.

Another incident that caused “some worries upfront” was PG&E’s bankruptcy filing in early 2019. The two agencies are interconnected as PG&E handles transmission/delivery, billing, and some customer service in the area — essentially meaning VCE’s money flows through them.

In spite of the filing, Parks doesn’t seem too concerned.

“Moving forward, I don’t anticipate any big problems or issues,” he said.

VCE is the product of a California law passed in 2002 that allowed cities and counties to form Community Choice Aggregation/Energy programs to purchase electricity on behalf of residents and businesses, according to the business’ website. When it began last summer, VCE was one of 19 operational CCEs in the state.

Overall, people have been happy with what’s being offered, according to Parks.

The biggest complaint he’s heard is that some folks don’t like the fact that they were automatically enrolled, a policy that is pursuant to the law. Serving a population of roughly 163,000, the opt-out rate is 7.7%, Parks said.

The company has spoken with representatives from the cities of West Sacramento, Winters and Stockton as well as Butte County about their interest in joining forces. The process of getting involved includes the completion of a feasibility study and about a year waiting period.

As of now, VCE is “beginning discussions on how we can give back to the community,” Parks explained.

A recent release stated that existing PG&E solar net energy metering customers who have not been enrolled in VCE service yet will begin being automatically registered beginning in January. More information will be available at public meetings scheduled for October and in mailers sent directly to those who will be affected.


Valley Clean Energy reaches one year mark, by Heather Kemp, Daily Democrat, July 31, 2019.

SMUD Reaches 1,000 All-Electric Homes Milestone

July 8, 2019 — SMUD and nearly two dozen homebuilders have teamed up to build more than 1,000 all-electric homes over the next two years in several neighborhoods in the community-owned electric utility’s Sacramento County service territory.

The homes are included in the SMUD Smart Home program and are part of a broader electrification effort by SMUD, the first of its kind in the USA. The innovative program designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions kicked off last fall. Another thousand homes are projected to be contracted for by the end of 2019. The program has enrolled a range of builders—from small local infill, to some of the largest national production builders.

When Santa Monica-based Watt Communities, one of the premier homebuilders in the west, committed to participate in the SMUD All-Electric Smart Home program, the agreements pushed the program past the 1,000-home-commitment milestone.

Watt Communities’ has planned two all-electric developments located in north Natomas. The 57-home “Mystique” community and the 257-home “Artisan Square” community will also include solar roof panels. Mystique is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, while Artisan Square is expected to be ready by the end of 2021.

SMUD provides considerable incentives to builders for including appliances and equipment to make the homes all-electric. These include heat pump heating and cooling, heat pump water heating, and induction stoves—appliances that are more energy efficient and can deliver lower overall energy bills.

SMUD is providing Watt Communities $5,000 per home in incentives. The energy performance of these efficient homes stands at an average of 14 percent better than what is required under the current California energy code. The project will also implement magnetic-induction cooking technology, providing a safer, efficient and more convenient alternative to gas and electric resistance cooktops. “Watt Communities is proud to partner with SMUD to offer our homebuyers the benefits of unique energy-efficient features that will result in yearly savings,” said Mike Von Quilich, vice president of Operations for Watt Communities.

High-performance SMUD Smart Homes are more energy efficient and deliver lower overall energy bills when compared to conventional homes. For example, heat pump water heaters reduce utility bills by approximately $40 per year compared to gas tankless water heaters. Instead of using gas to create heat, heat pump water heaters use a refrigerant cycle to transfer heat from surrounding ambient air into the hot water tank. They also cool the area where they are located, usually in the garage. Induction stoves cook twice as fast as gas stoves. They also use less energy than traditional gas stoves and offer precise, digital control of the temperature, plus they have no open flame. The absence of combustion in all-electric homes results in greater occupant safety and improved indoor air quality.

Bottom line: customers with all-electric homes in SMUD’s service area are well positioned for a renewable energy economy and can typically save $400 compared to homes that rely on gas for space heating and hot water. Each customer’s savings will depend on the specifics of the home and how they operate their home.

These homes will help community-owned SMUD meet its aggressive commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 and surpass the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals of 80 percent by 2050.

The SMUD Smart Home program offers design assistance and financial incentives to builders and developers of up to $5,000 for new single-family homes, and up to $1,750 for new multifamily units, built to be all-electric.

SMUD customers who own existing homes in the SMUD service territory can also qualify for up to $13,750 for existing homes that convert from gas to electricity. There are also rebates available from SMUD for traditional efficiency measures such as duct sealing, insulation and windows.


SMUD Reaches 1,000 All-Electric Homes Milestone, by Smart Grid Observer Staff, Environmental XPRT, July 8, 2019.

SMUD expands services to Silicon Valley Clean Energy

SMUD announced new services for community choice aggregators (CCA) including program design and implementation. Silicon Valley Clean Energy a community-owned agency serving Santa Clara County communities and providing 270,000 residential and commercial customers with clean, carbon-free electricity will be the first CCA to use SMUD’s differentiated services.

“We have been successfully delivering more than 100 innovative programs to our customers for decades and will leverage our design research, data and outcomes to help SVCE implement a suite of programs that save customers money while reducing carbon emissions,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Arlen Orchard.

The program services that SMUD will deliver will help local communities reduce carbon pollution while delivering engaging customer experiences. SVCE programs are focused on promoting energy efficiency and grid integration, as well as electrifying transportation, buildings and homes.

“As a leader in customer satisfaction and innovative design, SMUD is uniquely positioned to help us deliver customer programs,” said Girish Balachandran, SVCE CEO.  “As community-owned agencies, we share deep commitments to our customers and aggressive carbon reduction goals. We look forward to providing value-added programs that help our customers and the environment.”

SMUD’s current power supply portfolio is 50 percent carbon free, and its new Integrated Resource Plan has goals to be carbon neutral by 2040. SMUD is doing this by expanding its renewable power supply and providing rebates and programs to its customers that reduce carbon emissions. Programs that include energy efficiency rebates, home electrification contractors, electric vehicle incentives and more are helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent by 2030.

SMUD has been providing core administrative services to Valley Clean Energy and East Bay Community Energy since 2018, including call center, billing, data management, wholesale energy, and financial and business operational services. This will be the first time SMUD provides a CCA with expanded program design and program operation, making SMUD a complete provider.

SMUD’s programs have won praise throughout the industry from J.D. Power for being the Highest Ranked in Customer Satisfaction with Business Electric Service in the West. And SMUD continues to maintain its status as the most trusted brand in trusted brands and customer engagement studies by Market Strategies International.

“We are glad to be strengthening our portfolio of services with a proven model of success,” said Orchard. “By providing complete services to other providers, we are effectively working to improve the quality of life for our neighbors throughout the state.”

This new contract with SVCE is estimated at $600,000 and will be managed through SMUD’s Community Energy Services Department that works to support CCAs.

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned, not-for-profit, electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 70 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit

About Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a community-owned agency serving the majority of Santa Clara County communities, acquiring clean, carbon-free electricity on behalf of more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates competitive and promote clean energy programs. Member jurisdictions include Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale and unincorporated Santa Clara County. SVCE is guided by a Board of Directors, which is comprised of a representative from the governing body of each member community. For more information, please visit


SMUD expands services to Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Press Release, Electric Energy Online, June 26, 2019.

SMUD leads charge on electric cars

Working to get the word out about electric vehicles, SMUD in partnership with the city of Elk Grove, held a “Tacos and Test Drives” event outside Elk Grove City Hall on June 8.

Attendees got to test-drive (or, if they preferred, test-ride) electric vehicles from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Nissan, Tesla, and Toyota.

“(Tacos and Test Drives) is a great way for folks in the community to come out and get behind the wheel and take a test drive and ask questions,” said John Grindrod, program manager for SMUD’s Residential Drive Electric Program. “It’s low-pressure and they can drive a variety of vehicles at the same time. It’s the prime motivation.”

Additionally, he said, “Elk Grove is prime SMUD territory, so it’s been tremendous to have the partnership with the city and the various departments.”

Involved in the movement toward electric vehicles (EVs) since their early iterations, SMUD sees three benefits to the vehicles: EVs create zero emissions when driven so their usage improves local air quality; EVs generate fewer emissions overall compared to gas-powered vehicles; and EVs generate revenue for SMUD.

Grindrod said SMUD is involved with setting up public chargers around town and is interested in promoting electric vehicles. As the fuel source for electric vehicles, SMUD receives funding from a state program aimed at switching gas engines to electric, Grindrod said.

“It really lines up with SMUD’s environmental goals. That’s a prime reason we’re out here,” he said.

Grindrod sees the event as an opportunity to educate the public that electric vehicles “are powerful” and “are as beautiful as any car out there.”

Besides the environmental bona fides of EVs, Grindrod said EVs offer practical benefits like requiring less maintenance than their gas-fueled equivalents because they have fewer moving parts and generate less heat. He said that leads to fewer breakdowns.

Also, EVs use a regenerative braking system, in which a generator slows down the car, both recharging the batteries and reducing wear on the brakes.

Other selling points include that EVs never require an oil change and can be charged in the garage.

“We just say your garage is your gas station. … We’re glad to have EVs on our radar and are able to educate the public about all the benefits,” Grindrod said.

Financial incentives for purchasing an EV, Grindrod said, can bring the cost down by $10,000 to $11,000. Most EVs qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Additionally, Grindrod said, the state of California has a clean vehicle rebate of up to $2,500 for residents.

Under a SMUD program, customers who buy or lease a new plug-in electric vehicle can get $599 cash, roughly the amount the average Sacramento EV driver spends on charging at home for two years. Or they can receive a free car charger.

Members of SacEV, an EV enthusiast car club, came to Tacos and Test Rides to show off their cars and answer any questions from the public.

SacEV member Peter Mackin, the owner of a 2013 Tesla Model S, said when his car was new it had a range of 265 miles. He said his car gets about three miles per kilowatt hour so it costs 6 cents per mile to run it.

“I like that it’s quiet, clean and it’s very quick,” Mackin said.

Providing test-drives on behalf of the Nissan of Elk Grove dealership, driver Jake Yu said the nationwide best-selling Nissan Leaf is the first mass-produced electric car.

“To me, they’re the most cost-effective, have the most features. It’s tried and true. It’s low on maintenance, low on repairs.”

He said at the dealership, they get a lot of requests for test drives of the Leaf.

Asked what he thought of the Tacos and Test Drives event, Yu said, “Today’s going amazingly. Today, straight-up, people were waiting in line 20 minutes for a test-drive.”


SMUD leads charge on electric cars, by Monica Stark, Elk Grove Citizen, June 12, 2019.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Signs Long-Term Solar PPA

Lendlease, an international property and infrastructure group, has joined forces with the Sacramento County Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in California to execute a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for Rancho Seco Solar II.

The 160 MW solar facility will be located on the premises of the decommissioned Rancho Seco Nuclear Generation Station site and, upon completion, will be the largest solar facility in Sacramento County, Calif., says Lendlease. The project is the company’s first energy development in California.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with one of the largest community-owned municipal power suppliers in the country and to help them achieve their renewable energy goals,” says Craig Carson, general manager of Lendlease energy development. “Lendlease is focused on developing unique and innovative energy projects to meet our customer’s needs.”

Rancho Seco Solar II is scheduled to begin construction later this year and be completed by the end of 2020.

“This project supports the strategic direction of the elected SMUD board of directors, as well as California’s renewable energy and greenhouse-gas emission goals,” says Amanda Beck, SMUD’s senior project manager. “The addition of this clean, carbon-free generation resource will optimize the delivery of locally generated solar energy.”


Sacramento Municipal Utility District Signs Long-Term Solar PPA, by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry, May 31, 2019.