North Bay Roundup

Here is what has been happening in the North Bay lately:

MCE Clean Energy has been busy adding seven new municipalities — Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga, and Yountville  — to their joint powers authority (JPA). Dawn Weisz CEO, of MCE, says that by adding to the cities to the JPA, their customers could start seeing rate reductions up to 8 percent on their monthly bills. As JPAs like MCE grow larger, they are able to negotiate lower costs from electricity companies who provide renewable energy.

This new partnership will bring 94,000 more customers to MCE’s current base of 170,500, bringing their potential new customer total to 264,500 and increasing their load by roughly 50 percent.

MCE has also been busy partnering with local businesses to bring more solar power to the grid. The Buck Institute in Novato, CA recently added a 1MW solar array to their carport rooftop. The power from this system is equivalent to the power that it would take to provide energy to 300 homes per year. The total cost savings for the Buck Institute should total around $300,000, or near 30 percent of their energy costs per year. And according to Ed Mainland (Secretary, Sustainable Novato, State Sierra Club Energy-Climate Committee), union workforce labor was used to build this project from IBEW Local 551 electricians. He also told us that nine other comparable MCE local distributed solar projects totaling 19 MW are currently underway in Marin and elsewhere.

Partnering with MCE, College of Marin has just completed installation of Tesla batteries that could potentially save the college over $100,000 annually on energy spending. Not only do these batteries offer cost savings, but they can help to balance the grid and bank additional power generated by renewable sources that would otherwise be wasted.

In Sonoma County, Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) has hired two new employees. They hired a program director, Jan McFarland, who has more than 30 years of leadership experience in government and environmental management. Carlos Gomes will be working as an Energy Analyst for SCP and has more than 10 years of experience in finance. Carlos came to SCP from Powerex Corp. a leader in North American wholesale energy supply.

SCP’s board of directors voted May 5th to spend $3.5 million on green energy programs, including expanding electric car adoption throughout Sonoma County. The board also voted to allocate $4.7 million to their reserves which now total $10.7 million. The total budget for the 2016 fiscal year is $151 million and they board will continue to allocate funds for green programs throughout the year.

Within two years of launching in May 2014, SCP has served Sonoma County residents well. SCP has saved them an average of 2 percent off of their monthly energy bills totaling almost $50 million dollars collectively. They have been able to keep rates lower than Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), even after a recent decision of the California Public Utilities Commission to allow PG&E to increase the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) exit fees for Community Choice Aggregation customers.

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