OAKLEY — The City Council backed a resolution Tuesday to join Marin Clean Energy and will bring the final application for approval on May 23.
Three council members voted to go with Marin Clean Energy, the first community choice energy program, as opposed to East Bay Community Energy, which is still being formed.
Councilmember Claire Alaura voiced her opposition to the choice, saying that she did not see the need to rush a decision.
“East Bay Community Energy isn’t up and running yet and this is a binding agreement,” Alaura said. “I don’t feel we are giving the city and the citizens the opportunity to know what EBCE could do for us. It’s true, we could wait a little longer, but some things are worth waiting for.”
Both entities are what is known as a Community Choice Energy program, which is a collaboration of local governments pooling energy demand for lower rates and greener energy.
Under community choice energy programs, if a household uses 500 megawatts of power, a provider such as MCE will then feed 500 megawatts of power in a customer’s chosen renewable mix.
MCE provides customers the option of having 50- to 100-percent of their electricity come from renewable sources. PG&E still delivers the power, maintains the power lines and handles customer billing.
To date, MCE has over 250,000 customers, with approximately 90,000 coming from Contra Costa County, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Richmond.
11 Alameda County cities, including Berkeley, Oakland and Fremont, joined together to form East Bay Community Energy.
“When we’re talking about size, sometimes having a big organization can be a liability,” said Dawn Weisz, chief executive officer of Marin Clean Energy. “… The projects we’ve been able to build are bigger. We’ve built more local projects than every CCA in California combined.”
The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors also voted May 2 to direct staff to seek membership in MCE.
Councilmember Randy Pope criticized MCE for a letter addressed to county board of supervisors that agreed to a seven-trade project labor agreement with the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council.
“You’re agreeing to pay inflated wages. You’re agreeing to make it a jobs program rather than an energy supplier,” Pope said. “I would prefer MCE get the best clean energy for the most affordable prices for its ratepayers.”
Rates for MCE’s 50-percent renewable energy come out to $97.76 a month for an average home that uses approximately 445 kilowatt-hours. This breaks down to $54.25 for electric delivery and an added $13.25 in fees from PG&E. MCE’s 100-percent renewable plan amounts to $102.21 a month. A 30-percent renewable energy plan from PG&E would cost $98.03 a month for the same customer.
All energy customers in Oakley will be automatically enrolled in the MCE program. If customers want to stay with PG&E’s electricity generation, they must opt-out through MCE’s website at www.mcecleanenergy.org/opt-out/
The resolution will come back for final approval at the City Council’s meeting on May 23.
Oakley Moves to Join Marin Clean Energy, by Aaron Davis, The Mercury News, May 10, 2017.