By Don Saylor
Chair, Valley Clean Energy Board of Directors
Valley Clean Energy (VCE) is our local community choice energy program serving electricity customers in the communities of Woodland, Davis and unincorporated Yolo County. The purpose of VCE is to provide customers with higher levels of renewable electricity, encourage energy efficiency and local generation, and offer rates that are competitive with PG&E, the region’s investor-owned electricity provider.
Decisions on rates, energy resources, programs and finances are made locally, in public, by a local board composed of people elected by the residents of our communities.
Most electricity customers in our area have been receiving their electricity from VCE since June 2018. Their monthly bills display VCE’s electric generation charges and PG&E’s electricity delivery charges.
Based on changes to state regulations, the VCE board decided to delay until 2020 the enrollment of solar customers who had installed solar panels on their homes or businesses before we launched in June 2018. In 2020, these energy-conservation pioneers will begin receiving their electric power from our local agency.
VCE will enroll more than 6,000 solar customers in our service territory during 2020, effective during the month of their “true-up” date. Solar customers usually pay their electric bills once a year. Utilities require that accounts be “trued up” annually to pay customers for outstanding credits (at wholesale prices) or charge them for any remaining balance. Then, their account balance returns to zero.
VCE has begun welcoming these solar customers during their true-up month, to ensure that any of their accumulated generation credits with PG&E are protected. So far, 93% of the eligible solar customers have chosen VCE over PG&E as their true-up dates have arrived.
In addition to a higher proportion of renewable energy, competitive rates and local control, pre-existing solar customers who shift to VCE gain a financial advantage as well. VCE rates match PG&E rates, and VCE pays more than PG&E during the months in which solar customers generate excess energy.
Solar customers will be paid 1 cent per kWh more by VCE for any excess power they generate. That’s a better deal than what PG&E is offering. Additionally, these environmentally minded customers can opt up to 100 percent renewable and carbon-free electricity when they need to purchase energy. Opting up costs an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This portfolio offers the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and is over and above VCE’s advertised 42 percent renewable power content.
Here’s another benefit: Winter seems to be behind us, and the sun will be shining more and more as we head into spring and summer. As a result, our solar customers will begin to see the tangible results of their foresight to install rooftop panels as they may generate more power than they use each month.
Major actions taken in the past 18 months by our locally elected VCE board are a testament to the fact that not-for-profit community choice energy agencies such as ours are working:
- Our electricity generation rates match PG&E’s and there is a potential ratepayer dividend at the end of the year;
- Our renewable energy portfolio is superior to PG&E’s (48% in 2018 compared to 39 percent for PG&E);
- VCE pays 1 cent per kWh above PG&E’s rates for excess solar power generation;
- VCE, in partnership with Davis, Woodland and Yolo County, is installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Yolo County, thanks to a $2.9 million grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments; and
- VCE is governed by elected local officials who understand the community and work to provide benefits that align with community values.
Local residents should be justifiably proud of their local electricity provider. Valley Clean Energy and the 18 other community choice energy agencies throughout California are taking major steps toward a greener and more reliable energy future.
I encourage you to stay informed about our progress by:
- Joining our email list at valleycleanenergy.org;
- Following us on social media at facebook.com/ValleyCleanEnergy; www.twitter.com/VCleanEnergy
- Attending a public board of directors meeting on the second Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.;
- Emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- Calling us at 855-699-8232.
—Don Saylor is a member of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and chairs the Valley Clean Energy board of directors. He is a longtime Davis resident.