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County makes progress with clean energy program; Residents automatically in unless they opt out  

There could be a potential for other alternative energy forms sourced here, however.

“Maybe there’s a wind farm in the future,” Fraser said.

The program is expected to launch in August. Unless they choose to opt out, residents will be automatically signed up.

Credit:  By Carina Woudenberg | Half Moon Bay Review | February 3, 2016 | www.hmbreview.com ~~

In the coming weeks, Coastside residents can expect to receive a notice from the Peninsula Clean Energy Authority giving them the option to opt out of a “community choice aggregation program” that would tap wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric energy for their homes through the existing PG&E lines.

The joint powers authority was created by San Mateo County as one way to work toward reducing the collective carbon footprint. The energy would be purchased in bulk and distributed to consumers. Surplus funds would be invested back into the program instead of going to shareholders. The county Board of Supervisors has already put in $1.5 million to fund the JPA.

The concept of the community choice aggregation program is one that’s gaining in popularity throughout the state. Marin, Sonoma and Los Angeles counties already have aggregation programs in full operation.

“We’re not starting from something that’s brand- new and never been done before,” said Half Moon Bay Councilwoman Marina Fraser who worked on the project as a member of the county’s Citizens Advisory Committee.

Through the month of February, cities in San Mateo County have been signing on to the JPA. San Francisco County is also working through the process, Fraser said.

Fraser said Sonoma and Marin counties have served as good models. The finding was that energy costs to consumers have been either on par or 10 to 15 percent less, she added.

In some instances, Fraser said, the aggregation program has driven employment opportunities when demand for cleaner energy sources have led to the construction of new power plants. At this point, it is not entirely clear from where the county would be sourcing its clean energy, but Fraser said a power plant would not be built on the Coastside.

There could be a potential for other alternative energy forms sourced here, however.

“Maybe there’s a wind farm in the future,” Fraser said.

The program is expected to launch in August. Unless they choose to opt out, residents will be automatically signed up.

Billing, meter reading and customer service would all still be handled by PG&E and the only difference residents might expect is a new line item on their bill indicating the change in energy source.

PG&E spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said while the company respects that its customers have a choice, she argued that PG&E has been an environmental leader and makes providing energy from cleaner sources a priority.

“Fifty-five percent comes from carbon-free resources,” Liebelt said. “In fact, PG&E creates only one-third as many greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt hour compared to the industry average.”

Source:  By Carina Woudenberg | Half Moon Bay Review | February 3, 2016 | www.hmbreview.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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