City of Davis considers joining Marin Clean Energy, a Community Choice Energy company

City of Davis considers joining Marin Clean Energy, a Community Choice Energy company

Photo Credits: Designed by Jennifer Wu

Letter of intent sent to express interest in joining, working toward 2015-16 energy goals

With the intention of making progress on its 2015-16 goals, which are part of the Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee (CCEAC), the Davis City Council sent a non-binding letter of intent to explore possible membership to Marin Clean Energy (MCE). MCE is the first Community Choice Aggregation program in the state of California.

MCE provides a greener source of energy than the traditional energy provided by PG&E. MCE allows residents of its member communities to opt out of PG&E, and opt in to energy from a clean resource.

“Davis has not committed to joining the Marin Clean Energy joint power authority,” said Councilmember Robb Davis.

According to Davis, the city is currently looking at three different clean energy options. One would be to for the city to form its own Community Choice Aggregation program, similar to that of the City of Lancaster in Southern California. Second would be to create a joint power authority for all of Yolo County, for the cities that would be interested. This option would allow the City to have the most control over the energy product and more flexibility. However, this option is also the most risky. The third option would be to join an existing CCA. There are only two in Northern California, Sonoma Clean Power, which is not taking new members, and Marin Clean Energy.

“Marin Clean Energy is thinking of adding additional members this fall,” Davis said.

Marin Clean Energy, a local government agency, was founded in 2010.

“We provide a choice to customers [to decide] where the generation of their energy comes from,” said Dawn Weisz, chief executive officer of MCE.

MCE energy supply is generated from double the amount of renewable resources than PG&E’s power supply. The MCE energy supply comes from both local and non-local sources and relies on wind, solar, geothermal, bioenergy and hydroelectric power generation. The power is still provided through PG&E’s grid and consumers are also bill through PG&E. The only difference is the source of the power.

Customers are able to select from different packages that allow for 50 to 100 percent of their power supply to come from renewable sources.

Currently, MCE services all of the cities and towns within Marin County, Richmond, Benicia, San Pablo, El Cerrito and unincorporated parts of Napa County.

According to Weisz, customers saved $5.9 million last year mainly because the company is not a federal for profit company.

“Our rates are cheaper, the default product [Light Green package, which is 50 percent renewable] is saving customers money,” Weisz said.

Efforts to buy local energy at competitive rates have also contributed to the low cost of MCE’s energy supply.

“Citizens wants choices…it’s good for the marketplace to have competition then all the vendors are forced to provide a high value product,” said Barton Clark, a Marin County high school science teacher and MCE customer.

Clark said that he appreciates MCE’s promise to citizenry that the sources they use for energy generation don’t have adverse effects on the planet.

“As a consumer, I have chosen the Deep Green option, it does cost a little more, but what I like is the idea that I am not personally contributing towards nuclear power plants or PG&E building a new super nuclear structure,” Clark said.

The Deep Green package provides the customer with 100 percent of their energy generated by renewable resources.

In the end, Clark said he feels the price increase he pays is marginal for the benefits he gains from being an MCE customer.

“A vote for MCE isn’t a vote against PG&E, it’s a vote for free market and a changing energy landscape where more and more citizens are saying we want options.” Clark said.

Davis said that he feels Community Choice Energy is increasing all over the state, partially because it gives local jurisdictions control over the purchase of their energy.

“Even though we see opportunities with MCE, we still have some decisions to make about it,” Davis said.