By Jaime Tuckey, Marin Energy Authority
Marin Clean Energy is a Community Choice Aggregation program that is designed to serve Marin’s priorities. It allows electric consumers to choose non-polluting renewable energy, lower Marin’s greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, foster development of local green power generation and clean technologies and protect Marin homes and businesses from uncertain fuel prices.
Community Choice Aggregation was established by California legislature in 2002 (AB 117) to give cities and counties the authority to procure electricity on behalf of customers within their jurisdictions. Under a CCA program, the investor-owned utility delivers the electricity to customers and continues to read the electric meters and issue monthly bills to customers. Unlike traditional utility service, the source of the electric supply (generation) and the price paid by customers for the generation service procured by the CCA program are determined locally.
Marin Clean Energy is a renewable energy alternative to PG&E’s electric supply that will soon be available to Marin customers. MCE is responsible for sourcing the power and purchases the energy supply while PG&E continues to deliver the energy, maintain and repair transmission lines and provide customer service and billing.
MCE will provide two unique energy supply options that its customers may choose from. The Light Green product is 25 percent renewable energy and is expected to increase to 50 percent renewable energy within five years. MCE’s Light Green rates parallel PG&E’s rates, which only provide 13 percent renewable energy. The Deep Green product is 100 percent renewable energy, and rates will come at a premium of approximately 7 percent above PG&E’s rates.
The Marin Energy Authority is the not-for-profit public agency that administers and provides the renewable energy alternative through the Marin Clean Energy program. MEA was created in December 2008 to address climate change by reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and securing energy supply, price stability, energy efficiencies and local economic and work force benefits. It is the intent of MEA to promote the development of a wide range of renewable energy sources and energy-efficiency programs including, but not limited to, solar and wind energy production at competitive rates for customers.
MEA is governed by an eight-member board of directors representing each of the participating Marin jurisdictions, which include the city of Belvedere, town of Fairfax, county of Marin, city of Mill Valley, town of San Anselmo, city of San Rafael, city of Sausalito and town of Tiburon. In accordance with CCA law, customers who reside in any of these member cities or towns or unincorporated Marin will automatically be enrolled into Marin Clean Energy and will receive the Light Green product unless they choose to purchase Deep Green or remain with PG&E.
On Feb. 4, 2010, MEA signed a five-year power purchase agreement with Shell Energy North America to supply the Marin Clean Energy program. MEA will phase-in customers of Marin Clean Energy over the course of two phases. This approach provides MEA with the ability to start slowly and address any problems or unforeseen challenges on a small manageable program before gradually building to full program integration for an expected customer base of approximately 71,000 accounts.
Following board approval of the power purchase agreement and approximately 60 days prior to the date of automatic enrollment, 9,200 notices were mailed to Phase I customers informing them of their right to continue receiving electricity from PG&E. A second notice will be mailed 30 days later. Following automatic enrollment, a third notice will be included with the final bill containing PG&E generation charges, and a fourth and final notice will be included with the first bill containing MCE generation charges. Phase II customers will also receive four notices. Service to Phase II customers is expected to be available in approximately eighteen months.
After seven years of study, three independent peer reviews and participation and reviews by over 80 stakeholders, 40 task force members, seven Marin city and town councils, the county of Marin, the California Independent System Operator and the California Public Utilities Commission, the conclusion is that MCE has no fatal flaws, presents no risk to cities’ general funds and will result in a significant local greenhouse gas reduction.
Marin Clean Energy will supply nearly twice the renewable energy content to Marin customers than what they currently receive and at the same rates that they currently pay. Customers will also be able to purchase 100 percent renewable energy at a slightly higher price.
Marin Clean Energy offers several additional key benefits including customer choice, cost competitiveness, cost stability, increased renewable energy, focus on customer needs, competition in business, increased local jobs and local revenue, local renewable development, increased energy efficiency and distributed generation and direct customer participation in greenhouse gas reduction.
Jaime Tuckey is project coordinator for Marin Energy Authority. For more information about Marin Clean Energy or to sign up for the 100 percent renewable Deep Green option, visit www.marincleanenergy.info or call 888-632-3674.
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