Opt-out rate at 20%; goal remains to reach 70,000 by end of 2012MARIN – Marin Energy Authority, the agency providing a renewable energy alternative to PG&E’s current offerings through Marin Clean Energy, rolled out its 100 percent renewable offering, Deep Green, and celebrated its one-year anniversary in May.

Marin Clean Energy is a Community Choice Aggregation program. It was established by California Assembly Bill 117 in 2002, which gave cities and counties the authority to procure electricity on behalf of customers within their jurisdictions.

There are currently 9,000 customers and Marin Clean Energy has seen a 20 percent opt-out rate, below projections. According to MCE, the implementation plan was based on a 25 percent opt-out rate. Approximately 5,500 new customers are scheduled for automatic enrollment this August.

By the end of 2012, Marin Clean Energy expects to deliver energy to 70,000 customers.

The initial offering, Light Green, provides customers with 27 percent renewable energy, up from the 25 percent when the program began and is expected to increase to 33 percent by 2015.

“We get reports monthly what exactly was used for that month,” said Jamie Tuckey, spokeswoman for Marin Clean Energy.

“Currently sources are determined to be 27 percent from renewable, with 19 percent from biomass, 8 percent wind, 41 percent larger hydro, 3 percent solar renewable credits and the rest from system power through CAL ISO,” she said.

In January, MCE began its Feed-In Tariff program, which was intended to allow local residents and property owners who have small-scale renewable generation systems, like solar or wind, the opportunity to sell the electrical output directly to Marin Clean Energy. Its plan was to then sell it back to consumers.

According to Ms. Tuckey, no one has signed up for the program yet but MCE is in talks with one business that is interested in participating.

The Marin Energy Authority, which administers the Marin Clean Energy program, executed an amendment to its contract with Shell Energy North America on May 17 in order to ensure adequate energy supply for new customers. The amendment guarantees the increase in renewable energy and keeps MEA on track to achieve the newly enacted 33 percent renewable portfolio standard five years ahead of the statutory deadline.

The amendment also allows the Marin Energy Authority to increase its energy purchases and reduce its average supply costs relative to the original agreement.

“As we invite new customers to join MCE this August, we’re pleased to offer them at least 27 percent renewable energy,” said Lew Tremaine, of the Marin Energy Authority board of directors and a Fairfax councilmember. “The fact that the renewable energy content is up and the revised prices are lower than under the original agreement with SENA is auspicious timing for the new enrollments.”

The agreement states that no unit-specific coal or nuclear resources may be specified under the contract.

Marin Clean Energy has repaid each of its individual and municipal loans from the County of Marin and Town of Fairfax, so currently there are no tax dollars involved.

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“We’re celebrating this one year milestone and the hard earned achievements of Marin Clean Energy with great pride and joy,” said Dawn Weisz, Marin Energy Authority executive officer. “We are so grateful to our member jurisdictions and customers for helping us grow and improve in our first year. To be sure, there are many more benefits on the horizon over the next several years and we are eager to continue to move ahead.”

The approximately 5,500 new accounts set to begin in August are mostly residential with a small number of commercial. These customers were sent their first notice in early May and can expect second, third, and fourth notices in June, August and September. The notices provide information about the Marin Clean Energy terms and conditions of service and include instructions on how to opt-out of the program.

Sonoma County has also taken steps to enact a CCA. An earlier story is at NorthBayBusinessJournal.com.