Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) and MCE (Marin Clean Energy) greatly expanded their capacity to provide clean energy to a growing customer base in 2017.
SCP, like MCE, is a clean-energy supplier with an agreement with PG&E to purchase electricity from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower from alternative sources, and feed it through PG&E’s wires to customers. PG&E also remains responsible for billing and maintenance to the system.
Customers can opt out of the service and sign with PG&E directly, but in Sonoma 88 percent rely on Sonoma Clean Power, and MCE serves 83 percent of the population it covers
In May, SCP broke ground on a wind facility, in the western central valley community of Tracy. The Golden Hills North Wind Facility project removed 283 30-year-old wind turbines and replaced them with 20 2.3-megawatt GE turbines, capable of generating more power with twice the efficiency of the previous installation.
The wind project will have a generating capacity of 46 megawatts, enough to power more than 13,500 homes, and is forecasted to cover 6 percent of SCP’s load starting in 2018.
In June, SCP began serving Mendocino County, which added 38,000 new customers to its existing 196,000 in Sonoma County.
In August, SCP broke ground in rural Petaluma on its first solar facility that will generate two megawatts of solar energy — enough electricity to power 600 homes.
SPC also started a program for customers to install smart devices, like EV charging stations and in the future smart heat pump water heaters, and thermostats, that gives SCP permission to control those devices to help out the electricity grid under times of stress, enabling more renewable energy to come online.
MCE currently serves about 225,000 customers in Marin County, Napa County, Benicia, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Lafayette and Walnut Creek and expects to add another nine counties, or 200,000 more customers in 2018.
MCE’s Freethy Industrial Park solar project in Richmond went online in February, with a two-megawatt, ground-mounted solar project
The project supplies enough power for up to 600 homes, with greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to taking 114 cars off the road each year.
MCE’s biogas plant in Novato began operations in September. The plant converts trash into local power. The plant will provide enough renewable electricity to serve more than 5,000 MCE customers in Marin and Napa counties and the cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, Lafayette, Richmond, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek.
The new $14.5 million state-of-the-art plant takes the methane gas, produced by trash, and powers two reciprocating engines that generate 3.9 megawatts of electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
MCE will also go online early in 2018 with Solar One, the second largest solar installation in the Bay area, according to Jamie Tuckey, director of public affairs. Located in Richmond, the 60-acre project will generate 10.5 megawatts of power, enough for 3,000 homes each year.
Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at Cynthia.Sweeney@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4259.