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City to Further Explore Options on Community Choice Aggregation

San Clemente City Councilmembers briefly discussed the potential of starting a feasibility study on Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), which is a process of customers choosing where their energy comes from, even though it’s delivered through existing infrastructure.

Advocates of renewable energy have lauded the CCA model as a way to curb the state’s dependence on non-renewable fuels and fossil fuels. Giving cities the choice as to where their energy comes from could open the door to more wind, solar and other cleaner energy.

There’s not a set timetable as to when the city may reconsider funding the feasibility study. Councilmembers said they would like to discuss the options with neighboring cities before funding the actual study, which would cost about $60,000 to $100,000, according to the city’s staff report.

 

San Clemente to Further Explore Options on Community Choice Aggregation, by Eric Heinz, San Clemente Times, November 29, 2018.

California’s community has chosen 2 GW of renewables

California Community Choice Aggregators (CCA) have signed 59 power purchase agreements now totaling greater than 2 GW of capacity.

Of the 59 projects, 43 of them were solar power facilities totalling 1,360 MW. The system sizes ranged from 60 kW through 200 MW, with just over 1 GW of the projects contained in the eight largest projects (all at or over 100 MW). The final two projects signed included a 15 year PPA on a 150 MW-AC, 45 MW / 180 MWh solar+energy storage power plant in Kings County, California, and the Big Beau solar+storage project – a 128 MW-AC with 40 MW/160 MWh battery storage in nearby Kerns County.

Twenty one of the projects – representing 980 MW – are slated to start in 2019 through 2023.

A full list of the projects, and the above map can be found here (.pdf).

For a more formal description of the CCA than this author is able to communicate, see how pv magazine reader Paul Fenn, “Creator of Community Choice Aggregation,” once described the CCA;

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) brings a new paradigm to energy markets, that otherwise put the ball in hands of sellers of energy, not buyers and certainly not communities. CCA gives buyers the leverage to negotiate with sellers, control to define what kind of energy they want, and control over rates and customer engagement. Traditionally, communities had to take over (purchase by issuance of bonds) the distribution systems to be able to decide what kind of power they want. CCAs open up control as a function of choice, not takeover, and use a city council-based process under state oversight to purchase their electricity collectively, and enroll customers on an opt-out basis so residents and businesses are unwilling are not forced to participate. Americans in about 1500 U.S. cities are already getting their energy through Community Choice in California, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, and Rhode Island, which together consume about a third of the nation’s electricity.

Recently, Marin Clean Energy, a CCA from California, received an ‘Investment Grade’ Baa2 rating from Moody’s. The main driver seems to reflect, ‘the strength of the California Joint Power Agency (JPA) statute and the MCE JPA agreement be California Joint Power Agency statute.’ This legal structure in California, along with broader politics, gives confidence to Moody’s that the state will continue to support CCAs.

With the growth of CCAs, California has also moved to make sure the public grid’s costs are covered for those who choose to stay with their electricity provider. California regulators voted recently, 5-0 to implement higher priced exit fees for CCAs, as requested by investor-owned utilities. The fees will increase residential bills for members of CCAs by 1.7-5.2%.

 

California’s community has chosen 2 GW of renewables, by John Weaver, PV Magazine, November 27, 2018.

Council begins to explore Community Choice Aggregation

HANFORD — The Hanford City Council met Nov. 20 and held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to establish a Hanford Community Choice Aggregation implementation plan and statement of intent.

In a 4-1 decision, with Councilwoman Diane Sharp being the only “no” vote, Council decided to start the process of establishing a program plan and statement of intent.

During the public hearing, City Manager Darrel Pyle said the concept of Community Choice Aggregation was signed into law in 2002 and grants California Cities the right to combine the electricity load of its residents and businesses into a community-wide electricity aggregation program.

Right now, Pyle said most of Hanford is served by Southern California Edison, but the Industrial Park is served by Pacific Gas & Electric.

He said under a Community Choice Aggregation program, the incumbent utility — Southern California Edison or PG&E — continues to be responsible for electricity delivery and transmission, owning and maintaining the power and transmission infrastructure, reading the meter, and billing and collecting from customers.

The staff report on the issue said the only change under the program is that power consumed by customers is purchased by the Community Choice Aggregation, with the revenues collected staying in the city to benefit the citizens and businesses.

Pyle said a technical study that was conducted said Hanford customers would receive and increased opportunity to choose the type of electricity they prefer to come into their home, like renewable energy or a lower-cost option.

In addition to the financial benefits, he said the Community Choice Aggregation structure results in the Hanford City Council having full control of rate setting, budget approval, policy setting and program direction.

Officials said any Hanford customers who wish to stay with the incumbent utility provider have the ability to opt out of the Community Choice Aggregation.

“What we’re offering here is competition,” Vice Mayor Sue Sorensen said.

An additional fund would be established in the city’s budget and operate like the water or sewer fund, with reserves that would not affect the general fund, Pyle said.

Sharp said she felt like the city has enough on its plate and she didn’t feel comfortable with the level of risk going into this new business, but Council members like Sorensen and Mayor David Ayers said they were interested in the possibilities available in providing different options to residents and would at least like to begin moving forward at this point.

A motion made by Sorensen to begin the process of establishing an implementation plan and statement of intent was passed with support from Ayers and Council members Martin Devine and Justin Mendes.

Due to the many steps involved, if the council continues to pursue the option — which they are not obligated to do — anticipated implementation is not expected until May 2020 or later.

Town hall meeting

A town hall meeting that was previously scheduled to take place tonight, Nov. 27, to discuss a proposed homeless service center in downtown Hanford has been canceled.

Ayers said out of respect for the three new council members that were recently elected, he requested the meeting be postponed until the three new members are situated on the dais. He said after that point, the new council can decide when the meeting is to be held.

“They’re going to be the future decision makers,” Ayers said.

There was a general consensus from the rest of council to go ahead and postpone the town hall meeting.

“As we carry forward, I think it’s going to be important that we carry forward with that team that will be making those decisions for the next two years,” Sorensen said.

In the meantime, escrow has not been opened on the proposed building and Pyle assured Council that nothing will be happen until after a town hall meeting is conducted.

 

Council begins to explore Community Choice Aggregation, by Julissa Zavala, Hanford Sentinel, November 27, 2018.  

SF’s city-run power program challenges state board’s decision to raise customer fees

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and other municipal power providers are challenging a controversial decision by state energy regulators to raise the fees customers pay when they switch from investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to programs like CleanPowerSF.

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to tinker with an arcane but important formula that determines the size of so-called exit fees — permanent charges that show up on electricity bills of customers who enroll in government-run energy services.

After that decision, the SFPUC estimated that CleanPowerSF’s monthly costs could rise by around $5 per customer, but the agency stressed that cost predictions will remain highly uncertain until PG&E finalizes its rates next month.

However, the SFPUC, which runs CleanPowerSF, has said it will absorb the impact from the fee increase, so customers’ electric bills won’t actually rise as a result of the CPUC’s decision. But that still means the agency would be on the hook for an extra $11 million in exit-fee payments to PG&E between Jan. 1 and July 1 next year — unless, of course, the decision gets reversed.

Barbara Hale, SFPUC assistant general manager for power operations, said the agency believes regulators misapplied and overlooked portions of state law in ways that artificially inflate the exit fees for government-run energy programs.

The CPUC has until mid-February to decide whether it will grant the requests for another hearing. If the state board denies it, the SFPUC and other municipalities could take their case to court. Hale said the agency and its attorneys are waiting to make any decisions about taking legal action.

“Is it worth the investment? We’ll have to figure that out,” Hale said.

The CPUC did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

San Francisco’s utility agency contends that the added costs could seriously imperil its ability to grow CleanPowerSF over time. The agency is gradually enrolling the city in CleanPowerSF automatically, but customers can choose to opt out.

About 43 percent of the energy mix in the program’s baseline comes from renewable sources, and there’s also a 100 percent renewable option. A planned mass enrollment push next year aimed at signing up 280,000 new business and residential customers is still on track, despite the CPUC decision.

The fees that the CPUC voted to raise last month are meant to offset the costs that utility companies incurred to purchase long-term energy contracts and other investments. PG&E, for instance, has spent billions of dollars buying and generating renewable energy since the early 2000s.

As government-run programs like CleanPowerSF continue to mushroom across the state, PG&E and other utilities say the rate increases are essential to ensure that the costs of those prior investments don’t fall unfairly upon customers who choose to stay, or have no energy alternatives to turn to.

But the SFPUC — as well as CalCCA (CalCommunity Choice Aggregation), which lobbies on behalf of the state’s “community choice aggregation” local energy programs — contends that state regulators are mistakenly factoring costs into the fee formula that make PG&E’s and other utilities’ expenses seem greater than they really are.

“We have to say what they’re doing isn’t consistent with the law,” Hale said. The SFPUC made similar arguments prior to the regulators’ vote last month, so their petition for a rehearing could be a long shot.

“Many of us — members of the Legislature, mayors of large cities, environmental groups — we all asked the CPUC to take a more balanced approach, and the CPUC essentially ignored our concerns,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, a longtime proponent of CleanPowerSF and similar programs.

Wiener said he and a “sizable group of senators and Assembly members” are in the early stages of discussions about a “legislative strategy” in 2019 aimed at ensuring that “CCAs can exist and function and grow and thrive.”

“I hope the CPUC takes this petition for a rehearing seriously,” he said.

Dominic Fracassa is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dfracassa@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @dominicfracassa

SF’s city-run power program challenges state board’s decision to raise customer fees, by Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, November 23, 2018.

SDG&E Is Looking to Leave the Power-Buying Business

In a dramatic sign of California’s changing energy market, San Diego Gas & Electric wants to stop buying and selling electricity.

In recent days, the company has asked lawmakers to introduce legislation that would let SDG&E reduce its role – while also pushing the state to enter the energy market in a big way.

The company’s vision could eventually require the state to buy out its long-term power contracts and possibly pay the company for several natural gas-fired power plants it owns.

SDG&E is pitching this idea as the company prepares to lose about half of its power customers within the next few years.

Last month, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he wants to form a “community choice” agency, known as a CCA, to buy and sell power on behalf of the city’s 1.4 million people. Other smaller cities across the county are likely to join that effort, creating an electricity buyer’s club that will compete with SDG&E and leave the company with more power than it can sell.

“We think it makes better sense for SDG&E to eventually move out of the commodity role,” said Kendall Helm, the company’s vice president of energy supply. “But it’s important to always provide clean, safe and reliable delivery to all customers in our service territory.”

That may sound like it’s bad for business, but it may be more of an opportunity. A well-run utility can make a steady profit from delivering power.

SDG&E – one of the region’s largest employers – makes most of its money that way, which is why its bottom line won’t be at much at risk if it stops selling power. The company already gets guaranteed revenue from the sprawling system of power lines and cables it’s built over the last century to each home and business in the region. It also delivers natural gas.

Instead, the company is looking to shed the risk it now faces trying to buy power for a customer base that is looking to jump ship.

“Signing contracts that are 10 and 20 years in length while the cities are discussing the possibility of joining together to buy their energy from a CCA provider will be tricky to say the least and thus we are looking at what the best options are for the near future related to our efforts,” SDG&E’s vice president for government affairs, Mitch Mitchell, said in a Nov. 14 letter to state Sen. Ben Hueso. (Disclosure: Mitchell sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

For years, most California power companies did it all – they owned both the power and the lines that delivered it to customers.

Now, following years of deregulation and changes in the industry, the state’s three big energy utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and SDG&E – no longer own all of the power they deliver. Much of their power comes from long-term contracts they signed with other companies.

Even that market is eroding as governments enter the energy market.

SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy, sees that and recently paid just under $9.5 billion to control Texas’ largest utility, Oncor, which only delivers electricity.

In the future, SDG&E could look more like Oncor.

The question is how to get there.

A draft bill, which Hueso’s office provided, shows what SDG&E is asking lawmakers to consider. The company urges the state to create a way for the company to sell off its long-term power contracts to a “state-level electrical procurement entity.” The first step would be a state-level task force to sort through all the issues involved, which would be many.

Matthew Freedman, a staff attorney for The Utility Reform Network, said there are already discussions about the state stepping in to help develop renewable power resources. But those discussions are about developing new power – like geothermal projects in Imperial County – not paying companies for existing contracts.

“That is the legitimate part of what SDG&E is teeing up, but I don’t think they are the right messenger,” he said. “Their motives are not pure on this, and what they have put on the table now is more of a manifesto than an actual proposal.”

For one thing, it’s not clear what state agency would step up to pay for all of this.

One power-buying entity already exists at the state level, a small division within the state Department of Water Resources known as California Energy Resources Scheduling. The division – known as CERS by the few people who know about it – was created in 2001, during the energy crisis, to buy and sell power to avoid rolling blackouts across the state. But in the nearly two decades since the crisis, only a skeleton crew now runs the division, mostly to ensure the state is fully compensated for the power it bought years ago.

There’s also the matter of the power plants SDG&E does own – four plants that generate power by burning natural gas. The draft bill would make sure the company is “fully compensated” for those plants in certain scenarios. This could put the state in the awkward position of paying for fossil fuel-fired power even though California lawmakers this year set a goal of having all electricity sold in the state come from renewable resources by 2045.

SDG&E said it’s already taking steps to minimize the number of gas-fired power plants it owns. For a while now, it’s been expecting that it would be forced to buy another gas-fired plant from Texas-based energy company Calpine for $280 million. The forced sale is part of a bizarre deal involving former California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey.

Helm said SDG&E has worked out a deal with Calpine that would not require SDG&E to buy the plant.

SDG&E gets the rest of its power – roughly three-fourths of the electricity it sells – from other sources, largely long-term contracts it signed with wind and solar farms across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It cannot make money on the power it buys and then resells from customers.

 

SDG&E Is Looking to Leave the Power-Buying Business, by Ry Rivard, Voice of San Diego, November 19, 2018.

Hanford to Hold Public Hearing on Adopting Community Choice

HANFORD — Despite the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, the Hanford City Council will still meet Tuesday night to hold a public hearing.

In addition to the consent calendar, items of which are considered routine and are voted on in one motion, Council only has one public hearing and no other items of new business on its agenda for the night.

The public hearing is on a proposed ordinance to establish a Hanford Community Choice Aggregation and approving implementation plan and statement of intent.

This type of plan combines the electricity load of its residents and businesses into a community-wide electricity aggregation program, known as a Community Choice Aggregation program.

According to the city staff report, under a Community Choice Aggregation program, the incumbent utility — Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas & Electric — continues to be responsible for electricity delivery and transmission, owning and maintaining the power and transmission infrastructure, reading the meter, and billing and collecting from customers.

The staff report said the only change under the program is that power consumed by customers is purchased by the Community Choice Aggregation, with the revenues collected staying in the city to benefit the citizens and businesses.

In addition to the financial benefits, the staff report said the structure results in the Hanford City Council having full control of rate setting, budget approval, policy setting and program direction.

During the public hearing, Hanford residents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns or support of the city moving forward with this plan.

Before the regular meeting, Council will hold a study session to discuss both reorganization in the Hanford Fire Department and a draft of the Kings County Association of Government’s Regional Active Transportation Plan.

 

Public hearing on Council agenda, by Julissa Zavala, Hanford Sentinel, November 17, 2018.  

California CCAs Achieve 2,000-Megawatt Milestone for New Renewables

Concord, Calif. – The California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) is pleased to announce that community choice aggregators (CCAs) in the state have signed long-term contracts with new renewable energy facilities totaling more than 2,000 megawatts (MW), reflecting a strong commitment by CCAs to drive clean energy and economic development in California and help the state achieve ambitious decarbonization and climate change goals.

CCAs achieved the 2,000 MW milestone in October when Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) approved power purchase agreements (PPAs) totaling 278 MW of solar coupled with 340 megawatt hours (MWh) of battery storage for two separate projects, to be built in Kern and Kings Counties. In 2017, CCAs in California had secured approximately 1,000 MW of new renewables under long-term contracts, so the figure has doubled in one year.

“This is a significant achievement for the CCA movement in California. It shows CCAs are ready, willing and able to sign long-term contracts with new renewable energy projects, fueling new sources of clean energy, job creation and revenues for host communities,” said Beth Vaughan, executive director of CalCCA.

California’s aggregators have signed a total of 59 PPAs with new solar, wind, biogas, and energy storage facilities, supporting billions of dollars in construction and thousands of jobs. All but three of the contracts are for terms of ten years or longer.

The renewable energy projects are located in 16 California counties – from Mendocino County in the north to Riverside County in the south, with one located in New Mexico. Several projects are already operating, while others will become operational between 2019 and 2021. A map of project locations and a list of contracts can be found here: https://cal-cca.org/calcca-renewable-energy-map-11-15-18-final/. The table below includes a sampling of projects:

Marin Clean Energy (MCE) initiated service in 2010 becoming the first operational CCA in California. There are now 19 CCAs serving approximately 8 million customers in the state and momentum is building. Ten CCAs launched in 2018 alone and many more are under development.

Despite their newness, CCAs are viewed as reliable and stable counterparties and are proving adept at securing cost-effective, long-term power resources. As a result, CCAs are able to serve their customers with electricity that is cost-competitive, and in many cases greener, with the supplies of investor-owned utilities.

“A key aspect of the value proposition offered by MCE and other California CCAs is the requirement that renewable and clean energy be a major component of the customers’ power supply mix,” Moody’s Investor Services said upon assigning MCE an investment grade credit rating in May. “This value is one of the most significant factors that provides strength to the long-term business model.”

As more CCAs begin procuring long-term resources, investments in new clean energy facilities will intensify. Clean Power Alliance and East Bay Community Energy, launched in 2018, are among the CCAs that are currently evaluating developers’ offers for new renewables projects in California. This fact sheet provides additional information on CCA power purchasing.

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About CalCCA: The California Community Choice Association supports the development and long-term sustainability of locally-run Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) electricity providers in California. CalCCA is the authoritative,

unified voice of local CCAs, offering expertise on local energy issues while promoting fair competition, consumer choice, and cost allocation and recognizing the social and economic benefits of localized energy authorities

For more information visit www.cal-cca.org.

SV Clean Energy Signs Major Contracts for California’s Largest Solar-Plus-Storage Projects

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) signed two long-term agreements for the largest utility-scale, solar-plus-storage projects to be built in California. The two projects will provide 153 megawatts (MW) of solar and 47 MW of storage and will be developed by Electricité de France (EDF) and Recurrent Energy Development Holdings, LLC. (Recurrent). These projects will come online in 2021 and will harness enough energy to power 39,000 homes annually.

Image from Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Building storage in addition to solar turns the sun’s energy into a resource that can be used on demand, rather than only when the sun is shining. These projects will combine solar panels with large batteries to store energy that the sun produces during the day so that more clean energy can be discharged onto the grid during times of high energy usage in the evening.

“As a Community Choice Energy agency, we’re proud to partner on these groundbreaking developments that not only increase the long-term supply of renewables to our customers, but also make the electricity grid cleaner,” says Courtenay Corrigan, SVCE Board Chair. “These projects show our maturity as an agency, our financial strength and our continued commitment to decarbonization.”

“We are excited to help California lead the transition to clean, reliable and flexible energy,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of Silicon Valley Clean Energy. “These new renewable energy projects are a significant investment towards reaching our state’s carbon-free energy goals and contribute to solving the state’s grid integration problem by investing in large grid-scale energy storage.”

The contracts are the result of a competitive bidding process that began in September 2017. SVCE’s collaboration with its neighboring Community Choice Energy agency, Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) took advantage of economies of scale for the combined four counties, allowing for more purchasing power to invest in these long-term agreements. The two agencies issued a joint RFO which received over 80 offers for new projects that were in various stages of development. The overwhelming response represents the vast amount of interest in new renewable energy development that continues to grow.

The RE Slate 1 project, developed by Recurrent, will be built in Kings County and will provide 150 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity, plus 45 MW of storage, for a 15-year agreement. The BigBeau Solar project, developed by EDF, will be built in Kern County, providing 128 MW of solar capacity and 40 MW of storage and is a 20-year agreement. These projects will support approximately 840 jobs during construction. SVCE will receive 55% of the output, and MBCP will receive 45%.

SVCE signed long-term power purchase agreements with each development, ensuring that customers will be receiving clean power from California renewables for years to come.

About Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a community-owned agency serving the majority of Santa Clara County communities, acquiring clean, carbon-free electricity on behalf of more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates low and promote clean energy programs. Member jurisdictions include Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale and unincorporated Santa Clara County. SVCE is guided by a Board of Directors, which is comprised of a representative from the governing body of each member community. For more information, please visit SVCleanEnergy.org.

Media Contact:
Pamela Leonard
Communications Manager
pamela.leonard@svcleanenergy.org
(408)721-5301 x1004

San Diego to form world’s largest single city CCA

Community choice aggregation (CCA) has become quite the hot topic in California. CCAs happen when local governments, either municipalities or counties, form an entity to procure electricity for their communities. In the Golden State they have allowed communities procure renewable energy even more rapidly than the statewide 60% by 2030 mandate.

Last week, atop the city’s Alvarado Water Treatment Plant, San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer (R) announced that the city of 1.4 million would be forming its own CCA. The decision comes as critical action toward’s the city’s Climate Action Plan, which sets an even more ambitious renewable mandate than California’s already-aggressive state one, at 100% by 2035. So, not only is San Diego the largest city in the U.S. to have set an 100% renewable energy mandate, but it is the largest single city in the world to form a CCA.

“I want San Diego to lead this region into a cleaner future,” Faulconer said in a release announcing the CCA. “This gives consumers a real choice, lowers energy costs for all San Diegans, and keeps our city on the cutting edge of environmental protection. We are a city where our environment is central to our quality of life and Community Choice will ensure we leave behind a better and cleaner San Diego than the one we inherited.”

This decision comes just weeks after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to increase the “exit fees” that customers have to pay when opting out of utility procurement and into a CCA. Furthermore, CPUC chair Michael Picker has previously expressed concerns over the implementation of CCAs and their affect on utilities.

The raise on exit fees is especially important, as CCAs are already responsible for complying with local capacity requirements and ensuring that remaining utility customers do not see cost increases. However, these concerns do not seem to be an issue in San Diego, as the mayor’s office expects the city to see “a cost reduction of 5 percent or more compared to the utility’s energy generation rates residents and businesses are currently paying,” according to the mayor’s office.

Now, with the announcement in the past, comes the process of procuring power for the city of San Diego. Under the proposed CCA’s business plan, a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) would be formed in 2019, along with the appointment of a board of directors. From there on, the board would hire an executive leadership team, a chief executive and a chief financial officer. These executive positions would guide the JPA through the CCA implementation process, in hopes of delivering power to customers by the plan’s target date of 2021.

“San Diegans deserve to have a choice in where their energy comes from,” said City Councilmember Lorie Zapf. “This is an opportunity to reach our climate goals while at the same time lowering costs for everyone, especially families struggling to make ends meet. With this decision, Mayor Faulconer is ensuring that San Diego continues to set an example for other cities to follow when it comes to protecting our environment.”

 

San Diego to form world’s largest single city CCA, by Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine, October 29, 2018.

Hitting Back Against Silicon Valley Clean Energy Rumors

Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) recently started providing carbon-free electricity to Milpitas residents and businesses. For those who have not followed the progression of this change over the past 2 years, concerns about it may arise. Rumors from people who don’t know the facts make things worse.

Here are some myths I have heard…

An opt-in plan for customers would have been better than an opt-out plan.

There are 3 reason this is false. First, current California law requires all customers to be switched over to a newly formed Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) with an opportunity to opt out. Second, opt-out is easier for the 98% of customers who are either satisfied with the change or actually prefer it. Lastly, as the latest IPCC Report clearly states, Global Warming is the biggest issue facing civilization; we should take every chance we get to reduce our carbon footprint.

The cost of SVCE’s clean energy could go up.

The trend lines for renewable energy costs are heading down, as they have been doing for decades. While there is a small chance of those trends reversing, there is a high probability that electricity from carbon-energy sources will rise with the arrival of a carbon-fee and dividend (CF&D) program, or an outright tax on carbon. Fortunately, as a locally-governed agency, SVCE is nimble and able to quickly adjust prices to remain competitive. Meanwhile, PG&E rates continue their upward trend, with an average increase of 9% in 2018.

The City should have chosen Green Start for its own use.

GreenStart is SVCE’s competitively-priced, standard electricity offering. All customers are automatically enrolled in GreenStart, with electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and carbon-free sources like large hydropower. GreenPrime, SVCE’s 100% renewable generation service, was chosen for City use to demonstrate our commitment to a clean energy future. Buying GreenPrime further expands generation from new and competitive renewable energy sources. For a typical residential customer like me who upgrades to GreenPrime, the extra few dollars a month is an investment in future generations.

Milpitas is on the bleeding edge of CCAs.

Back in 2007, the CPUC authorized its first CCA application. And most cities in the County chose to switch to SVCE about 2 years before Milpitas. Although invited to join the others in 2016, at that time Milpitas’ leaders failed to respond. Now that we have joined SVCE, we can start sharing in the roughly 20% net profit, estimated at $20 million in 2018.

For both financial and environmental reasons, our new City leadership made the right choice in joining SVCE. By purchasing our electricity at wholesale prices from 21st-century renewable sources, our CCA will be able to provide residents and businesses with opportunities for future energy savings. Soon, SVCE will start deciding what to do with that extra money. If you have ideas, please contact our SVCE representative, Marsha Grilli, at mgrilli@ci.milpitas.ca.gov

 

Rob Means
Activist
http://meansfordemocracy.org

 

Opinion: Hitting Back Against Silicon Valley Clean Energy Rumors, by Rob Means, The Milpitas Beat, October 16, 2018.