A regional giant in the energy industry, the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, is set to give a hand to Yolo County’s up-and-coming community choice energy program, the Valley Clean Energy Alliance, after a partnership between the two was solidified Thursday.
With a seal approval from VCEA’s board of directors, SMUD was selected to provide technical and energy services, data management, call center and credit support services, and up to five years of business operations support as VCEA launches.
Plans for VCEA have been gaining momentum since the Davis City Council voted to launch the program in March 2016. The new program will roll out a locally controlled energy program to distribute at least 50 percent renewable energy to residences and businesses.
VCEA will operate as a nonprofit that will manage service rates and leverage the city and county’s purchasing power to acquire renewable energy.
SMUD is the nation’s sixth largest community-owned electric service provider, serving 1.4 million customers across a 900-square-mile service area. SMUD has been servicing Sacramento County as well as parts of Yolo and Placer counties for the past 65 years.
“VCEA was fortunate to have a number of very capable service providers to choose from,” said Don Saylor, a Yolo County supervisor and VCEA board chair. “With their depth of expertise, cost-competitive proposal and close alignment with VCEA’s mission, the exceptional value of SMUD’s proposal was clear. We’re eager to get started.”
Responded Arlen Orchard, SMUD’s CEO and general manager, “We have the operational knowledge and experience to help VCEA hit the ground running from day one, and we’re going to work very hard to help them be successful.”
The SMUD partnership is aimed at helping VCEA get off the ground during its first few years. VCEA will be focused on the energy generation and local rates for energy, where SMUD will be helping with back-office work and power purchasing.
“The fundamental difference is that SMUD is a contractor for these services. … This is not part of annexation, to be very clear,” said Mitch Sears, sustainability manager for the city of Davis.
Meanwhile, the new electricity will flow through infrastructure owned by PG&E, which will continue its distribution and billing services.
As the local energy program gears up for a summer 2018 launch, locals can expect outreach efforts leading up to the initial energy deliveries. All residents will be automatically enrolled in the program, but will have ample opportunity to opt out and remain with PG&E if they wish to do so.
Yolo’s New Energy Initiative Gets Some Expert Support, by Felicia Alvarez, The Davis Enterprise, September 3, 2017.