Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Feasibility study validates creation of local, clean-source power agency


May 5, 2016 — Santa Cruz, CA

Regional Plan Would Provide Consumer Choice, Increase Renewable Energy and Stimulate the Local Economy

Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), a regional project among local government agencies to provide electricity to residents and businesses throughout Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties, announced today the completion of a feasibility study that validates the suitability of creating a new regional power agency which would provide renewable energy and create green jobs.

Empowered by California’s 2002 Community Choice Energy (CCE) law AB 117, a public committee comprised of representatives from Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties has determined that a new agency would enable as many as 285,000 residential and business customers to choose clean-source power at a cost equivalent to PG&E, while retaining PG&E’s role in maintaining power lines and providing customer service. The new agency will be financially self-sustaining and would come at no cost to local government.

Building on successful Community Choice Energy programs in Sonoma and Marin Counties, the Monterey Bay Community Power plan provides local choice on energy generation, fosters more renewable energy, and stimulates economic vitality — all while utilizing existing PG&E infrastructure and service. When formed as early as Fall 2016, an agency that includes the three counties and their 18 cities could represent the largest CCE agency in California.

After three years of planning, a Project Development Advisory Committee has completed a feasibility study on the viability of creating a CCE agency. Key findings include the possibility of:

  • Increasing the local power portfolio of renewables by more than twice what is now offered by PG&E and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by purchasing energy that is at least 70% GHG free.
  • Developing a long-term strategic goal of 100% regional energy self-sufficiency by building out local renewable generation projects, using revenue surplus that would otherwise have gone to PG&E shareholders.
  • Creating numerous construction jobs for renewable energy build-out, many permanent operations and maintenance jobs, and nearly $1.4 billion in total economic output.

Offering complementary programs that serve community interests such as net metering, comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits, community solar, electric vehicle charging, and support for local training programs.

“In keeping with our strong environmental values, we have in Monterey Bay Community Power the most meaningful chance in a generation to impact climate change,” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce McPherson, whose office organized the CCE exploration. “The idea that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing renewable energy at the same rates customers are currently paying for PG&E is game-changing.”

“The job creation potential represented by Monterey Bay Community Power is exciting,” said San Benito County Supervisor Jerry Muenzer. “The money saved by transitioning to a locally-controlled model will allow us to build and sustain solar and other renewable energy projects right here in our own community.”

The public is encouraged to join elected officials and staff in attending community study sessions scheduled in each of the three counties. The sessions will provide an opportunity to meet experts, learn how CCE works, review goals and recommendations for the project, hear additional results of the technical study, and examine legal and financing aspects of CCE.

Study Sessions Planned

  • Monterey County: May 24: 9:30 a.m. to noon, Monterey County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 168 West Alisal Street, 1st Floor, Salinas.
  • Santa Cruz County: June 9: 9:30 a.m. to noon, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 701 Ocean Street, Room 500, Santa Cruz.
  • San Benito County: June 9: 3-5:30 p.m., San Benito County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 481 4th Street, 1st Floor, Hollister.

“The study sessions provide a great opportunity to get engaged in a project that will improve accountability and transparency in the delivery of our electricity,” said Salinas City Councilmember Steve McShane. “From the coastline to the valleys, Monterey Bay Community Power has the potential to increase regional resilience by determining the mix of energy available to ratepayers.”

About Monterey Bay Community Power

Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) is a regional project among local government agencies to provide electricity to residents and businesses throughout Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties through the Community Choice Energy (CCE) model. Established in 2002 by a state law, AB 117, CCE enables communities to choose clean-source power at a cost equivalent to PG&E while retaining PG&E’s role in maintaining power lines and providing customer service. The CCE model helps ensure local economic vitality because money from rates paid by local customers stays local, which helps to fund renewable energy projects, create jobs and stimulate the economy.

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