San Ramon Council to Consider Joining MCE Clean Energy

The San Ramon City Council is set to hold a public hearing on the city’s proposed plan to join MCE Clean Energy as a community choice energy provider at its meeting Tuesday night.

In the wake of an online survey the city released a few weeks ago requesting community feedback on the plan, the council will review the community’s responses, and then, if applicable, conduct a public hearing that would introduce the ordinance approving the MCE joint powers agreement and authorizing the implementation of a community choice aggregation program.

If approved, the ordinance would be adopted at the council meeting on July 11, though the service would launch sometime next year, potentially in May 2018.

“It is the intent of MCE to promote the development and use of a wide range of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency programs including by not limited to solar and wind energy production at competitive rates for customers,” according to the proposed resolution up for adoption.

Community choice energy (CCE) programs were first implemented in 2002 as a way to allow Californians to choose their electric provider and the source of their electricity — especially for residents wanting to use renewable energy sources. A CCE provider pools consumer electricity demand within a certain region in order to procure energy and sell it to customers.

In San Ramon’s case, the CCE program would be responsible for purchasing power, but the actual transmission of electricity would still be provided by PG&E’s transmission lines, and customers would continue to pay for electricity and gas through PG&E.

After hearing presentations from MCE and East Bay Community Energy, the council instructed staff to start the process of joining MCE, while simultaneously reaching out to the community for direct feedback.

If adopted, residents could choose from a few different MCE plan options, all with PG&E’s base electric delivery fee of $54.25 and an additional $13.25 for choosing a different electric generation plan.

According to an MCE cost comparison chart within the council’s staff report, MCE Light Green, which uses 50% renewable energy, comes out to a total monthly cost of about $98. MCE Deep Green, which derives its energy from 100% renewable sources, would cost approximately $102 per month, while MCE’s 100% solar plan comes out to about $131.

Customers can also choose to opt out of MCE and remain with PG&E as their electric provider, which, by the same comparison chart, uses 30% renewable energy sources and costs consumers about $98 per month.

At any point, details the MCE plan, customers can opt out of MCE service or opt up to one of the 100% renewable energy options.

The online community feedback survey received 208 responses, with 49% expressing support for the city joining MCE and 51% opposing the proposal. More specifically, 18% of respondents said they would opt for 50% renewable energy through MCE, 34% chose the 100% option and 48% stipulated they would stay with PG&E for their energy provider.

Public comments were ambivalent; many expressed distrust of a new provider and cited needing further details before being able to appropriately respond to the survey.

“I’d like to see more information about costs and reliability of supply of renewable sources,” read one comment.

Another said, “Sadly, I don’t think this should even be discussed without fully presenting the costs for residential customers. Can customers who already have solar on their rooftops participate? Will those of us that have time of use rates be affected? If yes, how?”

A few were more enthusiastic, though: “Thank you for giving us this choice,” a respondent wrote. “Green, renewable energy choice is the direction of the future and I’m proud that my city is going in that direction.”

In other business

* The City Council will discuss the possibility of implementing an Interim Study Overlay Zone (IS Zone) for the Crow Canyon Specific Plan (CCSP) area. A high volume of applications for development projects in the CCSP this past year led the City Council and Planning Commission to hold a joint workshop back in April to talk about the potential impact of projects in the area, particularly regarding density concerns.

An IS Zone would require a “study plan,” crafted by the Planning Commission and City Council, that would identify land use issues of concern in the CCSP and concretize an overall vision for the area — potential projects would need to demonstrate that they adhere to the vision of this “study plan.”

The Planning Commission Ad Hoc Committee recommended that an IS Zone not be initiated, but rather that the council and commission proceed with a Specific Plan Amendment to focus on CCSP density issues at hand.

* The council is set to conduct a public hearing regarding a resolution to adopt the diagram and levy of assessments for the Landscaping and Lighting District. This is the third and final step required before the resolution can be passed, following the approval of an engineer’s report in May.

The district was formed in 1984 and has been re-established every year according to the Landscaping and Lighting Act of 1972. It includes two citywide zones and 17 special zones; residents within each zone pay an annual assessment to maintain public landscaping and street lighting within their respective zones.

Most zones will see an increase in assessment of $1.31 per unit, though a few assessments will increase by about $11, while other zones will be subject to decreases of up to $98.

* The council members will hold a special meeting immediately before the regular meeting, during which time they will consider Contra Costa County committee interviews along with appointments to the Contra Costa County Mosquito and Vector Control District board of trustees and to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee.

* Both meetings will be held at City Hall at 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road, with the special meeting taking place at 6 p.m. and the regular meeting an hour later at 7 p.m.

San Ramon Council to Consider Joining MCE Clean Energy, by Erika Alvero, Danville San Ramon, June 26, 2017.

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