Survey Finds Valley Residents Favor Green Power

Most residents want a choice

Clean Power Exchange, a program of the Center for Climate Protection, found that residents of the San Joaquin Valley favor alternative energy sources.

 In a just released survey about local and renewable energy, Clean Power said electric utility ratepayers in the San Joaquin Valley – from San Joaquin County to Tulare County – are interested in alternatives to the current energy system.

Based off the survey, a majority of ratepayers want a choice regarding their electricity service, and they want electricity generated locally with revenues reinvested into the local economy, said Clean Power, a company which promotes green energy.

Those who participated in the survey also recognized the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and believe it is important that their electricity come from clean sources. A supermajority also indicated they are willing to pay something more for electricity generated from cleaner sources.

“Energy is a lot like water in that it is a resource upon which our lives and economies are built,” said Mike Dozier, executive director of the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State. “People in the San Joaquin Valley understand that we need to make some real changes to ensure a sustainable future-both economically and environmentally. There’s no better time to explore that here than now.”

Ratepayers across the state have been watching their cost of electricity steadily rise for over 30 years, increasing at a rate of about 4 percent per year. Meanwhile, state legislators are ramping up requirements to slash greenhouse gas emissions and increase the state’s portfolio of renewable energy sources.

“We conducted this survey in the San Joaquin Valley to find out what ratepayers are thinking as the energy landscape changes so rapidly,” said Ann Hancock, executive director of the Center for Climate Protection, the non-profit organization that manages Clean Power Exchange. “We were pleased that folks in California’s heartland are similar to people throughout the state, meaning concerned about climate change and very interested in local solutions to lower emissions.”

According to the survey, 71 percent of ratepayers both in Visalia and in the Valley, which includes the counties of San Joaquin, Fresno, and Tulare, and the cities of Stockton, Fresno, and Tulare, believe it is important for electricity to come from clean sources, while only nearly 30 percent are willing to pay more for clean power.

Other findings of the survey:

t 73 percent of ratepayers in Visalia and in the Valley believe it is important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 72 percent in Tulare County

t 69 percent of ratepayers in the Valley want a choice in how electricity is generated compared to 65 percent in Visalia and 67 percent in Tulare County

t 68 percent of ratepayers in the Valley want local, clean and renewable energy owned by the community compared to 71 percent in Visalia and 67 percent in Tulare County

t 69 percent of ratepayers in the Valley are supportive of local electricity when money is reinvested locally compared to 70 percent in Visalia and 69 percent in Tulare County

t 21 percent of ratepayers in the Valley refuse to pay more money for clean power compared to 30 percent in both Visalia and Tulare County

t 34 percent of ratepayers in the Valley are dissatisfied with their bill compared to 26 percent in Visalia and 28 percent in Tulare County

t 61 percent of ratepayers in the Valley are satisfied with their bill compared to 70 percent in Visalia and 66 percent in Tulare County

Hancock said the results make it clear that the San Joaquin Valley is on board and ready to take advantage of Community Choice Energy, formerly known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), which is a local energy program governed by cities and/or counties, that buys and generates electricity for its businesses and residents.

“It introduces choice and competition into the monopoly energy industry, giving local jurisdictions the independence to deliver innovative programs and lower rates to their residents and businesses,” she said.

The program is also being employed in other parts of the state such as in Marin County, Sonoma County, the City of Lancaster, and the City of San Francisco, with plans on launching another program in San Mateo County later this year and several others in 2017.

Hancock said organizations like Community Choice Energy are providing a lot of competition to monopolies like Southern California Edison (SCE).

“These new, locally-controlled, not-for-profit agencies have been proving since 2010 that cleaner electricity can be provided at lower rates than the large utilities,” said Hancock, whose organization helped launch Sonoma Clean Power.

SCE said its position on CCA programs is neutral.

“California law permits cities, counties, or a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) whose governing boards have elected to act as CCAs to purchase and sell electricity on behalf of utility customers within their jurisdictional area(s),” SCE said in a statement.

Community Choice Energy sounds so promising that local policymakers in the Valley are interested in exploring the renewable energy program as a long-term solution to stabilize electricity rates and lower emissions.

“We have a lot of concerns in Tulare County and energy rates is one of them,” said Steve Worthley, Tulare County Supervisor. “I’m interested in exploring the economics of this new program for our residents.”

Survey Finds Valley Residents Favor Green Power, by Myles Barker, The Porterville Reporter, September 2, 2016.

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