Woodland Joins Community Choice Energy Program

Davis’ Community Choice Energy program is gaining momentum, after officials announced last week that Woodland will join the partnership between the city of Davis and Yolo County.

Last Tuesday, the Davis City Council unanimously approved Woodland’s request to join the program. Final approval is pending a vote by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors at its next meeting.

The program — now dubbed the Valley Clean Energy Alliance — was originally approved in March 2016, and aims to bring locally controlled, sustainable energy to the region. Customers will have the option to purchase more of their electricity from renewable sources.

Davis is part of an increasing pool of cities across the state that are starting their own energy programs. Over the next 10 years, California could see more than 50 programs established across the state, said Mitch Sears, sustainability manager for Davis and staff liaison for the program.

“There’s a real groundswell of these programs across the state because of the value that they deliver,” Sears said.

Seeing Woodland join the Valley Clean Energy Alliance will increase the total number of customers by roughly one-third, with users in Davis and unincorporated Yolo County comprising similar portions of the customer base.

Increasing the alliance’s size will spread out the overhead costs among more customers, thereby improving the revenue returns expected for local communities.

Adding an estimated 23,000 customers from Woodland would spread costs over more customers, decreasing overhead from $9.49 million to $6.88 million per megawatt-hour. The cost to supply extra amounts of green energy to the larger customer base, meanwhile, would see a slight uptick.

Woodland’s entrance into the alliance also is expected to see revenues rise from $7.6 million — for a Davis and Yolo County CCE program — to  approximately $14.7 million for all three jurisdictions, according to financial models.

Currently, Woodland is the only other city in Yolo County mobilizing to join the partnership, though the framework is in place to allow West Sacramento or Winters to join at a future time, Sears explained.
“There’s other programs like Marin Clean Energy in the Bay Area that have gone through this process of growing and adding new jurisdictions. … We’re following that lead,” Sears said.

Woodland has committed $500,000 toward the program’s startup costs. The city of Davis and Yolo County approved identical amounts of funding when the program was first approved. As it currently stands, “very little” of those funds have been spent yet, as the program awaits hiring a CEO and other costs.

“It is important … that those initial startup costs funded by local jurisdictions are reimbursable,” Sears said.

Woodland also will add two members to the VCEA board as well as three residents to the program’s advisory committee. The board currently includes Davis Mayor Robb Davis and City Councilman Lucas Frerichs and Supervisors Don Saylor and Duane Chamberlain.

The Valley Clean Energy Alliance is expected to see its largest boost once a CEO is selected. The decision is expected the next month, Sears said.

“The search is winding down,” he said. “Once the CEO is chosen they’ll move more into deciding where the energy will be procured from and what personnel will be added to the team.”

The latest timeline for the program anticipates that electricity deliveries will begin by spring 2018. All residents will be automatically enrolled in the program, but will have ample opportunity to opt out and remain with PG&E.

PG&E will continue to transmit and distribute the electricity, provide natural gas, and handle the billing and maintenance of the grid.

Woodland Joins Community Choice Energy Program, by Felicia Alvarez, The Davis Enterprise, May 21, 2017.

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