When we flip a switch or plug in our phones, we don’t usually think about how or where that power comes from. From customer to source, our power structure pre-dates thoughtful consumption: The first electricity grid was built 100 miles north in San Francisco in 1879, 15 years before the radio was invented.
California still relies on a lot of antiquated energy infrastructure, making it challenging for a state of 40 million people to put fossil fuels in the rear view mirror. I’m committed to making it happen.
For the last year, Monterey Bay Community Power has been changing where our power comes from, starting by delivering carbon-free electricity to customers in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. MBCP started two years ago, when a coalition of community leaders decided that tackling the issue of sustainable power was too important to kick down the road any longer. We wanted to source clean energy, deliver it to households and businesses, and if possible, do it at affordable rates that saved them money.
MBCP is a unique agency that under California’s Community Choice Aggregation model can buy electricity from renewable sources wholesale and deliver it to customers in our region using PG&E’s existing infrastructure and delivery systems. Exactly one year ago, MBCP started delivering clean power to commercial customers in the tri-county region, and residential service started last July. This month, we celebrate the agency’s first birthday.
It’s been an exciting first year. We paid back loans to each of the three member counties, served over 270,000 customers, and bought 2,400 gigawatt-hours of power from sources like solar, hydro and wind.
All that clean energy meant less carbon emissions. In 2018, MBCP reduced an estimated 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. For a non-scientist like me, that roughly translates into taking 64,000 cars off the road for one year. The most exciting part? Not only are we consuming energy more thoughtfully, we are re-investing in energy infrastructure for clean energy sources to benefit us and our planet for decades. Two solar projects that we have broken ground on will generate enough power for 32,000 homes. That is significant for our customers, but also doubles the long-term megawatt capacity from renewable energy facilities across the state’s 18 other CCA agencies like ours.
MBCP is a local organization looking to the future. We’re already talking about micro-grids that will take energy infrastructure even further. Ultimately, we want to be building infrastructure that can last for the next 140 years and beyond while supporting true economic development for the Monterey Bay region. Last year we were able to give our customers rebates totaling $4.4 million. That number will continue to grow each year.
The future is carbon-free in the Monterey Bay region.
Monterey Bay Community Power celebrates its one-year anniversary and looks to the future., by Steve McShane, Monterey County Now, February 28, 2019.