Explaining what MCE is all about

The recent public interest and controversy about a proposed solar field has reminded us that we as a community must come together to make choices that are good for the environment, good for our quality of life and good for our economy.

First though, we want to make sure we are all using the same facts about the role of MCE (formerly known as Marin Clean Energy) in supplying clean electricity to Napa County’s electricity customers. Some basics:

The name: Marin Clean Energy is, at this point, sort of a misnomer. Think “My Clean Energy” instead.

MCE is a not-for-profit public agency, a “community choice aggregator,” composed of member municipalities from around the North Bay. Members include all communities in Marin County (where it started), all communities in Napa County, the city of Benicia in Solano, and 14 communities in Contra Costa County.

MCE is one of several community choice energy suppliers across the state, including Sonoma Clean Power, serving Sonoma and Mendocino counties; Clean Valley Energy, serving Davis and Yolo County; and CleanPowerSF, serving San Francisco.

MCE is governed by a board of directors of elected officials, each of whom represent the communities they serve.

The job: MCE buys electricity generation supply for customers. PG&E still delivers your electricity. Typically, the reasons utility customers stay with MCE is because they’ve historically been slightly cheaper than PG&E while also getting more of their energy from renewable sources (economics and environment, hand in hand). MCE also offers a 100 percent Deep Green option for electricity that is currently less expensive that PG&E’s 100 percent renewable option.

The way it works: MCE buys renewable energy in the marketplace – as PG&E does—and uses its revenue to incentivize local solar installations, to increase the amount of locally-generated renewable energy available to its customers. Each of these projects must fulfill and conform to local regulations and the normal permitting process to be eligible for MCE’s contract.

MCE is not involved in finding and developing sites for projects, but is always interested in supporting local renewables if the project is approved by the community and it meets their requirements.

MCE’s energy portfolio is at least 50 percent renewable. Much higher that the 30 percent of PG&E’s portfolio that is from renewable sources. Given that the vast majority of Napa County’s customers are served by MCE, that 50 percent means that we have made significant progress toward our greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Especially now, with the county redrafting its Climate Action Plan this could be an excellent time to explore strategies for well-considered development of local renewable energy generation. For example, creation of renewable energy zones to identify the best and most appropriate locations for solar in advance of any particular project.

In short, the challenge is not that Napa customers get their electricity from MCE, nor that MCE is developing local sources of renewable energy generation. The challenge is finding the best locations to carry out this good idea. Astute use of renewable energy will be a significant resource in meeting our climate action goals and powering our communities with clean energy.

Dave Whitmer

Chair, Board of Directors

Sustainable Napa County

Brad Wagenknecht

Napa County Supervisor, District 1

MCE Board of Directors

 

Explaining what MCE is all about, by Dave Whitmer and Brad Wagenknecht, Napa Valley Register, September 19, 2018.

Solar energy array proposed at Silveira Ranch property

A Novato-area ranch may become home to a small-scale solar energy farm that would generate enough energy to power roughly 1,000 homes, according to the project applicant.

The San Francisco-based Renewable Properties’ proposal is in early planning stages, according to company President Aaron Halimi.

Halimi said this will be their first solar project in the county, but said the company has completed several projects throughout the country.

“This is an opportunity for members of the community to get behind local solar,” Halimi said. “Climate change is a global problem that requires local solutions and we’re proposing this project in Marin County because we believe Marin County is a community that prioritizes the adoption of renewable clean energy. This has been properly sited to take that into account.”

Should the project ultimately be approved, the local community choice aggregation Marin Clean Energy would purchase the power through its “feed-in tariff program.”

“MCE supports local renewable energy and jobs in our community,” said David Potovsky, Marin Clean Power’s power supply contracts manager. “Our Feed-In Tariff program provides the opportunity for local developers — once they have secured county and community approvals for their project—to sell their energy to MCE under a long-term contract.”

Renewable Properties plans to install about 11,310 solar modules and 66 string inverters — which convert direct current, or DC, energy produced by the solar panels into usable alternating current, or AC, energy — on the Silveira Ranch nestled on the eastern side of U.S. Highway 101 north of Novato near the Marin-Sonoma county border. The property is owned by the trust of Lorraine and the late Anthony Silveira, according to county records. Halimi said Renewable Properties will be leasing the property.

The Silveiras’ attorney, Richard Bowles, said the proposed solar array is in no way affiliated with the Silveiras’ other ranch property near San Rafael, which is off limits to commercial development under a 10-year agreement with the county made last year.

The array as proposed would produce 3 megawatts of AC power and 4 megawatts DC power, Halimi said. The array would interconnect to an existing onsite Pacific Gas and Electric Co. distribution system, according to the county’s summary of the project. Renewable Properties also proposes to build energy storage infrastructure.

In addition to providing more renewable energy to the local and state energy portfolios, the project will also create local construction jobs and be an investment into the community, Halimi said.

Halimi said the proposed construction site has traditionally been used for cattle grazing and that some constraints on the site make it unsuitable for other types of development. There are several wetland areas and streams near the site, according to Halimi and a preliminary layout of the project, but Halimi said their design includes the necessary setbacks that will avoid disturbing this habitat.

Building permit applications have not been submitted to the county yet, with the project in its pre-application phase in which county agencies are providing feedback on the proposal, Halimi said.

Because of this, Halimi said they do not have a set timeline on when construction is expected to start.

Meanwhile, Halimi said they are eyeing Marin County for other local projects, which he said are also in the very early planning stages.

 

Solar energy array proposed at Silveira Ranch property, by Will Houston, Marin Independent Journal, September 18, 2018.

MCE Launches Electric Vehicle Programs, Offers Competitive Rates

SAN RAFAEL and CONCORD, Calif. — MCE has launched a generous rebate program to lower the cost of installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at workplace and multifamily properties. The program also offers rebates to low-income qualifying customers on the purchase or lease of new and used EVs.

“Transportation is the largest greenhouse gas-emitting sector in our service area and in California,” said Dawn Weisz, CEO of MCE. “This program is grounded in our mission and is focused on our customers — particularly those in underserved communities, reduces vehicle-related emissions, and provides greater access to EV charging where people live and work.”

EV Rebates for Low-Income Qualifying Customers

MCE is offering a $3,500 rebate for low-income qualifying customers to purchase or lease either a new or used EV. Additionally, MCE can help qualifying customers combine this rebate with Federal, State, and local incentives for a total discount of up to $12,000 for a new EV or $9,000 for a used EV. The final price of a used EV could now be as low as $2,000 after rebates. Qualifying households must receive MCE service and either be enrolled in California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA), or have an annual household income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

EV Charging Station Rebates for Workplaces & Multifamily Properties

MCE’s EV charging rebate program covers both large and small charging projects (from two to 20+ ports), allowing market rate and low-income multifamily properties and workplaces of any size and sector (including local government agencies) to save on hardware and installation costs — up to $2,500 per port. MCE will provide technical assistance in the application and installation process.

MCE’s EV program aims to add over 500 charging ports and 100 EVs to low-income households within MCE’s service area by March 2019. Improving charger access (particularly for renters and commuters) and reducing the purchasing price of EVs addresses two of the top barriers cited for owning an EV.

“MCE’s rebate program supports EV adoption by providing much-needed charging infrastructure, while making EVs less expensive than fossil-fueled cars for people who may not have the budget for car ownership otherwise,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor and California Air Resources Board Member, John Gioia. “Replacing a single gasoline-powered car with an EV eliminates an average of 4.6 metric tons of air pollution, which is like avoiding a trip of over 11,000 miles in a car.”

MCE’s EV Charging Rates

MCE’s residential EV rates are lower than investor-owned utility rates, providing EV drivers a cost-effective way of charging their car at home. MCE’s EV rates are flat, based on the time of day when a car is charged, with incentives for charging during off-peak usage hours, like at night when charging is least expensive. This helps to support the grid by shifting load away from times of the day when usage is high and there is more strain on the grid towards times when generation is plentiful and overall usage is low.

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About MCE: MCE is a not-for-profit, community choice electricity provider that provides all customers with electricity supplied from 50% to 100% clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal, and hydroelectric at competitive rates. MCE provides service to approximately 470,000 California customers in Marin County, Napa County, unincorporated Contra Costa County, and the cities of Benicia, Concord, Danville, El Cerrito, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek. For more information about MCE, visit mceCleanEnergy.org.

Solano opts to join with alternative power provider

FAIRFIELD — All residents and businesses of the unincorporated area of Solano County will have a new electricity provider starting in 2020.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to join Marin, Napa and Contra Costa counties, as well as Benicia and 19 other cities as part of the Marin Clean Energy joint powers authority.

MCE was the first and is one of 18 community choice aggregator agencies that purchase power and offer it for what has been a lower rate than Pacific Gas & Electric Co. typically offers.

The group also has a greater percentage of power coming from renewable sources, and has one program in which 100 percent of the power comes from wind or solar sources.

MCE’s primary program gets 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, water and landfill cogeneration. That compares to 33 percent from PG&E.

Residents do have the option to opt out and stay with PG&E.

The action comes a day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that will require 100 percent of electricity to come from cleaner sources by 2045.

 

Solano opts to join with alternative power provider, by Todd R. Hansen, The Daily Republic, September 12, 2018.

San Jose First City In California To Receive Platinum Leed Certification In Environmental Sustainability

San Jose has received platinum LEED certification in a pilot program for green cities offered by the U.S. Green Building Council, council officials said.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a distinction awarded to cities that reduce carbon emissions, ensure clean air and water and focus on “green” buildings and sustainable development.

The distinction recognizes three specific San Jose projects: the city’s Zero Waste Strategic Plan, the city’s new transit metric, Vehicle Miles Traveled, and Climate Smart San Jose, a plan to reduce air pollution and save water among other healthy aims.

In implementing these projects, the agency said San Jose officials proactively sought community input by sharing information in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Mayor Sam Liccardo thanked the council for recognizing San Jose’s “steadfast” commitment to environmental health by awarding it the highest rank of LEED certification.

“While national leadership continues to abdicate its environmental responsibilities, San Jose will persist in its efforts to fight climate change and build a more sustainable community,” he said in a statement.

The certification will give San Jose access to Arc software, which tracks data about sustainability and environmental health in a central platform.

San Jose is the first city in California to receive the certification, and will receive a grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation along with five other cities in the United States.

City officials did not disclose the grant’s value, but said the funds will go toward sustainability efforts. Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; Atlanta, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago, Illinois are also grant recipients.

 

San Jose First City In California To Receive Platinum Leed Certification In Environmental Sustainability, by Bay City News Service, SF Gate, September 10, 2018.

Many Bay Area residents already meeting Jerry Brown’s carbon-free energy goal

California is setting an ambitious goal to source all of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. Governor Brown signed a bill Monday in Sacramento that also calls for the state’s utility companies to generate 60 percent of their energy from renewable sources-wind, solar, hydro-by 2030. That’s a 10 percent increase in the existing mandate. However, there’s no penalty for the carbon-free goal if not met.

“It’s not going to be easy and will not be immediate, but it must be done,” said Brown. “California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change.”

Residents in many parts of the Bay Area are already getting their power from renewable sources. They’ve also achieved the Governor’s carbon-free goal.

The main provider of clean energy in the Bay Area is a collection of seven community agencies, including Silicon Valley Clean Energy. In just over a year’s time, it is already meeting the Governor’s goal of carbon free electricity by 2045.

“From the time that we first began our service in April 2017, our default product has been carbon free and 50 percent renewable,” said Pamela Leonard, community outreach manager at Silicon Valley Clean Energy.

270,000 households and businesses in 12 South Bay cities plus unincorporated Santa Clara County still have PG&E hook-ups. PG&E also handles billing. However, Silicon Valley Clean Energy sources renewable power to attain the 50 percent benchmark.

“We get most of our solar energy from Central California and our wind from Southern California,” explained Pamela Leonard. “A lot of our hydro resources are from the Pacific Northwest. But recently, we signed a 15-year agreement for a new wind energy project, which is 200 megawatts which is enough power for about 77,000 homes, and it’s a new project that’s being developed in New Mexico that will tie into California’s grid.”

Solar production is abundant during peak times, sometimes exceeding demand. Renewable energy experts have been looking into batteries to store solar-generated energy for use on overcast days or at night. However, the technology is still under development.

Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s first report card, to be issued soon, will show it has delivered 3.6 billion kilowatt hours of carbon-free energy, resulting in 1.1 billion pounds of carbon emissions avoided. Customers have also seen a $16.5 million savings on their bills. Emissions have been reduced 16.6 percent from its 2015 baseline.

The average residential customer is paying $4 per month less than what PG&E charged. There is also an option to choose 100 percent renewable energy, instead of 50 percent, for about $1 more per month than PG&E rates.

The Bay Area’s largest city, San Jose, is also working on its own community renewable energy service. The launch of residential service is projected to start next spring.

 

Many Bay Area residents already meeting Jerry Brown’s carbon-free energy goal, by David Louie, ABC 7 News, September 10, 2018.  

Why PUC should protect clean energy innovation

Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have made major strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through our respective Community Choice Energy agencies. Peninsula Clean Energy launched in 2016, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy followed in 2017. These agencies are responsible for buying our electricity, while PG&E still delivers power, maintains lines and sends bills.

In 2017, our combined 32 cities, towns and numerous unincorporated county communities avoided 1.7 billion pounds of carbon from buying clean power. In 2018, our 560,000 customers will collectively save $37 million through lower electricity rates – additional spending power that stays in our region.

A decision before the California Public Utilities Commission threatens our progress and innovation.

The Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), is an “exit fee” charged by investor-owned utilities, like PG&E, to customers that switch to another electricity provider such as Community Choice Energy. The fee compensates utilities for power they bought in the past at prices that are now above-market. The calculation methodology of this fee has been the subject of a long-contested regulatory battle.

On Aug. 1, the PUC issued a proposed decision to reform the PCIA. It provides a balanced approach as it maintains the exit fee at reasonable levels, while transitioning to a longer-term solution. The proposed decision is a step in the right direction and supports the legislative intent of the law that created Community Choice Energy in 2002 (AB 117), which provides customers with competitive, clean energy options and transparency through local governance.

However, a couple of weeks later, an alternate proposed decision was issued that significantly favors the utilities and would greatly harm Community Choice Energy programs. The alternate would disrupt energy markets, creating rate instability for millions of California ratepayers already served by the growing Community Choice Energy movement in over a dozen counties from Humboldt to San Diego. If approved, the alternate proposal will reduce competition and choice for California consumers and rule in the favor of private, corporate interests.

The PUC is scheduled to vote on this matter Thursday. We urge commissioners to adopt the original proposed decision that better balances all customer’s interests, whether they are utility customers, or a community choice customer.

The alternate decision, if adopted, would have an immediate destabilizing impact on energy markets. It could potentially affect the launch of some newer community choice programs, curtail the development of new renewable energy projects, and limit Peninsula Clean Energy’s and Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s ability to invest in local energy programs.

Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy are accelerating energy innovation through local programs that will continue to lower greenhouse gas emissions and advance our state’s climate goals. Such programs include advancing electric vehicle adoption and piloting new energy storage technologies.

Collectively, the two agencies have secured long-term agreements for new renewable energy developments. Peninsula Clean Energy has contracted for a new, 200-megawatt solar farm in the Central Valley under a 25-year power deal. Silicon Valley Clean Energy signed onto a 15-year deal for a new 200-megawatt wind farm in New Mexico that will directly deliver clean power to California’s electric grid. These projects provide enough power for 150,000 homes annually and stand as proof that Community Choice Energy providers are making long-term investments and creating hundreds of clean energy jobs.

Our agencies, while new, already have a proven track record of advancing our clean energy economy decades ahead of state mandates. We must continue making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and investing in new clean energy development and technologies. True to our Silicon Valley spirit, we want disruptive innovation, not disruptive regulation.

Dave Cortese represents District 3 on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and is a member of the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Board of Directors. Dave Pine is president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and is a member of the Peninsula Clean Energy Board of Directors.

 

Opinion: Why PUC should protect clean energy innovation, by Dave Cortese and Dave Pine, The Mercury News, September 8, 2018.

SF mayor sets aggressive goal to shrink city’s carbon footprint to net zero by 2050

Mayor London Breed is expected to announce Wednesday that the city will set a more aggressive course for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, including requiring all buildings constructed starting in 2030 to be net-zero carbon emitters.

Shrinking the carbon footprint of the thousands of spaces that make up the city’s built environment is seen as vital to San Francisco’s efforts to become entirely carbon-neutral by 2050.

According to San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, 46 percent of the city’s carbon emissions can be traced to electricity and gas used in homes and office buildings.

“If you look at where our emissions are coming from, they’re coming from the energy use inside buildings associated with water, heating, cooling — the operations of our built environment,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the environment department.

To date, San Francisco’s green-energy policies have helped cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 1990 levels — the equivalent of taking around 400,000 cars off the road, according to the Department of the Environment. Notably, those emissions cuts have paralleled a 20 percent population increase and 111 percent growth in the city’s economy.

Broadly speaking, the city’s 2030 emissions goal for new construction will mean making buildings more energy-efficient and powering them with electricity generated from renewable sources. But the details of the city’s action plan around cutting emissions remains a work in progress.

Raphael said her department will publish a plan this year “that will spell out how we go from today to the 2030 milestone and then the 2050 milestone.”

She added that the department is not yet “at a point where we can make recommendations to our elected officials on exactly what needs to happen, when. But we are at a point where it’s not a mystery — we know what needs to change — we’re not yet sure of the levers and mechanisms to make that change happen.”

Reducing the city’s abundant reliance on natural gas is one of the environment department’s biggest targets, Raphael said. Most of what’s considered natural gas is methane, which can trap 86 times more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

“We call it a super pollutant,” Raphael said. “The notion of tackling natural gas is a fairly urgent one.”

As a practical solution, Raphael’s department recommends replacing hot water heaters that run on natural gas with more efficient electric models.

Breed is expected to roll out the climate announcements Wednesday alongside Raphael and other city leaders at the Moscone Center, where a major international climate summit will be held next week.

The roof of the convention center will soon be the home of the city of San Francisco’s newest solar panel array. On top of the 2030 construction net-zero goal and the new solar array, Breed is also expected to announce that the city will begin issuing more “green bonds” used to finance clean-energy projects.

And to highlight clean-energy transportation, Ford Go Bikes will be free for the public to use on Green Thursday, Sept. 13.

The announcements also follow an ambitious zero-waste goal issued by Breed last month that would send no garbage to landfills, or at least as little as possible.

The three-day Global Climate Action Summit, which begins Sept. 12, will convene environmental experts and elected officials from across the globe to promote the idea of taking steps to address climate change at the local level.

Locally driven climate initiatives have become more important, city officials say, because of the Trump administration’s reluctance to confront global warming or even expressly acknowledge its existence. The drive to take action locally began to crystallize seriously after the president’s controversial decision last year to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

“What’s significant about this summit is that it’s a recognition that the responsibility and the opportunity to protect the planet does not lie solely with national governments,” Raphael said.

Dominic Fracassa is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dfracassa@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @dominicfracassa

SF mayor sets aggressive goal to shrink city’s carbon footprint to net zero by 2050, by Dominic Fracassa, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 5, 2018.

Marin climate change events to coincide with San Francisco summit

Christiana Figueres, architect of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, is set to be the featured speaker at a climate change event at College of Marin that is timed to coincide with next week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

The Sept. 15 event at the college is one of several Marin events taking place next week that are affiliated with the summit.

Spirit Rock Meditation Center will host a program titled “Loving the Earth: Healing the Planet though Mindful Engagement,” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 15.

And on Sept. 11, the day before the summit begins, San Rafael-based MCE will participate in a related event in San Francisco along with CleanPower SF and the California Community Choice Association.

The Global Climate Action Summit, the brainchild of Gov. Jerry Brown, will showcase the actions states and regions, cities, companies, investors and others have taken since the Paris conference to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also point the way forward to what needs to be urgently accomplished to avert catastrophic climate change, organizers say.

The College of Marin event,  “Getting to Paris Without Stopping in Washington,” at 5:30 p.m. also will highlight what states and localities can do to meet global climate goals despite the U.S. withdrawal from the UN Paris Climate Agreement last year.

Figueres, a former Costa Rican diplomat, was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change following the failed climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009. She is credited with helping to engineer the 2015 Paris Agreement, which was signed by 174 countries.

“Every day, local leaders make decisions to meet their city’s needs,” Figueres said in a statement. “I ask that these leaders consider climate, and seek solutions that are good for their communities, contribute to national goals, and take the global economy one step closer to low carbon and high resilience.”

Other speakers at the College of Marin event will include Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Marin supervisors Kate Sears and Damon Connolly; Novato Mayor Josh Fryday and CalEPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez.

Connolly said Tuesday that he and Sears will be talking about “Drawdown: Marin,” a  countywide climate action initiative focused on promoting six of the most feasible actions for addressing climate change. Connolly said the county is in the process of forming working groups for each of the six areas: renewable energy use, low-carbon transportation, energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure, local food and food waste, agriculture and carbon sequestration and climate resilient communities.

A project manager, hired to oversee the effort, is scheduled to begin work Sept. 10, Connolly said.

Huffman said he will talk a bit about the battles he’s fighting on the frontline in Congress in response to a range of actions by the Trump administration.

Prominent among those actions is the Trump administration’s plan to revoke the Environmental Protection Administration waiver that permits California to enforce stricter air-pollution rules than those set for the nation by the 1970 Clean Air Act.

“The state of California is going to sue to challenge that, and there are about 13 other clean-car states that have followed California’s lead that I’m sure will join that litigation,” Huffman said.

Huffman said he will also talk about the importance of the midterm elections.

“A Democratic House would be a huge check on Trump’s ability to dismantle our environmental protections,” he said.

Dawn Weisz, MCE executive officer, said that at her Sept. 11 event, “We’ll be talking about how community choice programs around the state are benefiting communities and reducing carbon impacts.”

Weisz said examples will include local renewable projects and programs that serve disadvantaged and low-income communities.

The event begins at 12:30 p.m. at the office of SPUR, formally known as the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, at 654 Mission St. in San Francisco. It will include optional tours of Solar One, MCE’s  60-acre solar farm in Richmond, and Waste Management’s state-of-the-art landfill gas-to-energy plant at the Redwood Landfill in Novato.

“We are the first generation to see the impacts of climate change and the last generation that can change the progression of climate change,” Weisz said, “so it is our responsibility to do everything we can at this time to halt climate change as quickly as possible.”

Huffman said he often gets asked how he perseveres given the raft of bad environmental news these days.

“The news is consistently bad; it can be overwhelming,” Huffman said. “We are running out of time to prevent the worst impacts and many people are tempted to just be overwhelmed and despair.

“My answer is always the same,” he said. “Despair is overrated; it doesn’t solve anything. Yes, I wish we’d done all this years ago. The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, as they say, but the second-best time is right now.”

 

Marin climate change events to coincide with San Francisco summit, by Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, September 4, 2018.

Breed and Oakland, San Jose mayors urge state PUC not to raise clean power fees

The mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose have banded together to urge the California Public Utilities Commission to reject a proposal they fear could substantially raise the fees that people pay when switching their electricity provider from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to a city-run program like CleanPowerSF.

On Tuesday, the mayors — London Breed in San Francisco, Libby Schaaf in Oakland and Sam Liccardo in San Jose — sent a letter to the PUC to express “substantial concerns” with a proposal the commission is scheduled to vote on Sept. 13 that could raise the fees for leaving PG&E by as much as 25 percent.

The fees are added to energy customers’ bills every month in perpetuity when they join city-run power programs to repay investor-owned utilities like PG&E for older power plants and continuing contracts to provide power.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is gradually enrolling city customers in its CleanPowerSF program automatically. The program uses a cleaner mix of energy generated from renewable sources. Customers can opt out of the program, however, which would prevent them from having to pay the so-called exit fees and stay on as a PG&E customer.

But the proposal to raise the exit fees, introduced by state PUC Commissioner Carla Peterman, “would reduce our investments in long-term renewable resources … and hinder our efforts in local development and customer programs,” the mayors wrote, adding that the costs would be unfairly borne by lower-income customers “in disadvantaged communities.”

“CleanPowerSF is central to San Francisco’s efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and make our electricity 100 percent carbon-free by 2030,” Breed said in a separate statement. “This proposal makes it more expensive for San Franciscans to choose clean energy over dirty fossil fuels.”

— Dominic Fracassa

Email: cityinsider@sfchronicle.com dfracassa@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @sfcityinsider @dominicfracassa

…..

Attachments:

Mayors PCIA Letter

San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland Mayors PCIA Press Release:

California Public Utilities Commission PCIA Proposal

Alternate Proposed Decision Letter

 

Breed and Oakland, San Jose mayors urge state PUC not to raise clean power fees, by Dominic Fracassa, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 2018.