Santa Clara County / CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved joining the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Authority (SVCEA) at its Board meeting Tuesday. The County, along with the Cities of Cupertino, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale, are the four Sponsoring Partners creating a local Community Choice Energy Authority that will offer competitive electricity rates and greener electricity sources. Residents and businesses may be offered the program as early as 2017.
The Sponsoring Partners came together in late 2014, and the participating cities of Campbell, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, and Saratoga joined the effort as part of a regional comprehensive technical study.
“Community Choice Aggregation is a huge step forward in our pursuit of providing Santa Clara County residents cleaner energy options at a lower cost,” said Board President Dave Cortese. “I’m eager for us to explore and invest in locally controlled alternative energy projects to reduce our carbon footprint and lower utility costs.”
Investor-owned utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric generally administer “bundled” service, and consumer bills include charges for both the purchase of energy and the delivery service infrastructure. Enabled through AB 117 (2002) as amended by SB 790 (2011), communities choosing to create a Community Choice Energy agency typically form a Joint Powers Authority, which pools the energy demand of their residents and businesses and purchases the energy directly on the wholesale market.
This approach promotes local control, introduces competition, and directs profits to local renewable energy investments and customer incentive programs. In addition, Community Choice Aggregators are entitled to apply to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for separate funding of local energy efficiency programs.
Supervisor Joe Simitian said, “Community Choice Energy gives us energy independence and the potential of lower costs and greener energy. Plus, it provides a much needed dose of competition. I just think it makes sense all around.”
Simitian previously served as mayor of the city of Palo Alto, which has long operated its own local municipal utility; and, as a member of the California State Senate, authored legislation which required California to get 20% of its energy from renewable resources by 2010 and 33% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.
Following the Board’s approval to join the SVCEA, it will appoint a primary and alternative representative to the SVCEA Board. In April, the SVCEA partners will launch a period of organizational, regulatory, technical and financial activity that includes hiring a JPA executive director and staff, developing a Program Implementation Plan that must be filed with and approved by the CPUC, performing market analysis, and broadening the public information and outreach campaign the Sponsoring Partners launched in 2015.
To fund next steps, the Sponsoring Partners, including the County, will each contribute $450,000, supported with proportionate investments by the participating cities. This phase will also include investigation and assessment of financing options for the initial procurement of wholesale energy.
In addition to the County, nine other partners have adopted the Joint Powers Agreement and formally joined the SVCEA. The Cities of Monte Sereno and Gilroy may vote to join the SVCEA within the next two weeks. Currently, 20 to 25 counties statewide are developing the Community Choice Aggregation partnerships.
Action for final adoption – a second reading of the SVCEA ordinance – will be on the upcoming Board meeting agenda on February 23, 2016.
For more information, visit www.svcleanenergy.org.