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A Response to Misleading Information About Marin Clean Energy

While we appreciate interest in MCE, we find Mr. Phelps’ recent criticism of our upcoming rate change to be misleading and inaccurate. We're writing to address these claims.


While we appreciate interest in MCE, we find Mr. Phelps’ recent criticism of MCE’s upcoming rate change to be remarkably inaccurate, misleading to readers, and not reflective of information that has been provided to him.  Therefore, we would like to provide the following response to his misleading claims:

1. Rate Changes and Impacts

MCE has proposed a rate increase of about 7%, bringing our rates closer to PG&E’s current generation rates. This increase – which is smaller in both percentage and actual dollar amount than PG&E’s increase in January 2013 – is needed to reflect the rising cost of our contracted energy commitments, such as the solar we now purchase from the San Rafael Airport. It is not related to our expansion into Richmond. As proposed, we expect that the typical residential customer after April will pay about 90 cents more per month for MCE’s 50% renewable energy than they would for PG&E 20% renewable energy, while commercial customers should continue to see a small savings. The MCE Board will be voting on whether to accept or adjust these proposed rates in April.

2. Rate Setting Process

MCE sets its rates annually based on the fiscal year budget adopted by our Board. In 2012, due to a number of changes in revenue and customer costs, MCE was faced with what would have been a revenue surplus for the year. Because MCE is a not-for-profit agency, we were able to pass these savings directly to our customers by lowering rates for residential, large commercial, industrial and street lighting customers.

In 2013, rates will increase for all customers due primarily to higher power supply costs associated with serving all MCE customers. We look forward to any additional customer input on rate design as we move towards implementation of these proposed rates.

3. Market Costs of Electricity

MCE’s rate increase is not due to deficits or hidden costs. The contract prices for MCE’s non-renewable energy costs generally increase on an annual basis, and this cost increase is the primary cause of the FY 2014 rate increase.  The terms “fixed” and “fully hedged” mean that MCE’s power supply costs are not subject to market price volatility during the term of the contract.  For example, if market prices spike due to a heat wave or some other event, MCE’s power supply costs would not be materially impacted because of the price hedges that MCE has put into place to control power costs.

5. Misreprestation of the University of California

Mr. Phelps makes a number of misrepresentations regarding renewable energy certificates (RECs), including misattributing an op-ed from a UCSC professor as somehow representing the position of the University of California as a whole. This is remarkably misleading given that the subject of the paper is that UCSC utilizes and purchases RECs to support renewable energy generation equivalent to its own electric usage. Claiming the editorial represents the University of California is patently false and intentionally misleading.

5. Conflicting Viewpoints Regarding RECs

Mr. Phelps’ comments regarding RECs are particularly disingenuous and intended to mislead readers as he himself has been a strong proponent of RECs, and has strongly urged the local cities and towns in Marin County to purchase RECs to green their energy supply.  For example, in the minutes of the Town of Ross City Council meeting on September 15, 2011, Mr. Phelps is quoted as stating, “…Ross can purchase a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC).  It is a green attribute paid for from a wind farm.”  Mr. Phelps then went on to say, “RECs allow everyone to be green.”

6. Understanding RECs

RECs are part of MCE’s energy portfolio, in addition to local and in-state renewable energy generation and third-party suppliers. RECs are the energy industry’s means of accounting for renewable energy: noting credit when renewable electricity is generated, and then ensuring that nobody can take credit for renewable energy more than once. All grid-tied renewable energy projects generate RECs. The solar project at the San Rafael Airport – which most would agree is ideal as far as local renewable energy generation is concerned – produces RECs. This is how energy suppliers keep track of renewable energy.

7. Identifying MCE on Bills

RECs are an important tool to help support the development of new renewable energy facilities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the western U.S., while keeping rates competitive for customers. Each REC that MCE purchases is tied directly to a certified renewable energy facility supplying electricity to the western region electric grid. MCE REC purchases are independently certified and verified by Green-e Energy.

We understand that electricity bills are complex and can be difficult to understand. MCE’s charges are clearly marked on PG&E electric bills on the front page and on the Third Party Electric Detail page. Visit www.mceCleanEnergy.com/bill-explanation to view a sample bill.

For more information on MCE’s current and proposed rates, or any other questions, please contact us at info@mceCleanEnergy.com.

Jamie Tuckey
Communications Director, MCE

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tina McMillan February 27, 2013 at 09:18 AM
Jaime, try as you might you cannot convince me that you are building solar and wind farms here in Marin, that REC's are the same as building and purchasing clean power and that MEA is as transparent as a glass of water from a mountain stream. You are another PR person and REC's are another means of deceiving the public by greening an otherwise brown energy supply. If REC's are the majority of MEA's portfolio then please give PGE back the business you stole using an Opt Out model. PGE can do everything MEA does and much more. From the start MEA's campaign has been deceptive because it used the fact that PGE is a large corporation to make its own efforts seem grassroots and by virtue of their origins greener than PGE. In reality PGE not only produces real green energy but it also provides real green jobs. Paying Dalessi consultants between $250,000 and $350,000 a year to buy REC's when PGE can do the same, as well as build wind and solar farms, is a huge waste of tax payer dollars and time. County Supervisors were too busy creating MEA to manage SAP and lost over $30 million dollars. We don't need MEA. It gives people a false sense of being conservationists. It is about pushing paper in order to keep the fees on energy bills that are suppose to go to research and development. In PGE's hands these fees are large enough to produce actual solar and wind farms here in California. Thank goodness Jim is not rolling over and drinking the green kool aid.
Novato Native February 27, 2013 at 04:15 PM
JC, We get it. Enough with the stupid narcissistic personality disorder comments. Is it too much to ask that you actually contribute to the discussion instead of being obsessed with posting the same comment over and over and over after every one of Tina's comments? They're obviously not affecting her and falling on deaf ears, so I ask you to please cut it out.
Jim Phelps February 27, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Misrepresentation of the University of California The text stands on its own. RECs allow MEA to deliver an illusion. UC Professor Daniel Press put it in this context: RECs are a scam. http://energybrokernetwork.com/press_ltr.pdf Conflicting viewpoints regarding RECs The Town of Ross appeared intent on joining MEA and paying to buy a specious version of “green” energy, which is rejected by the Sierra Club (another MEA resource-type is now being reviewed for the State PUC). The context I was describing the “RECs allow everyone to be green” quote was that if you are going to pay for an illusion, why not cut out MEA’s margin and buy RECs yourself? At the Ross meeting Dawn Weisz referred to MEA’s use of RECs as “the icing on the cake.” Since that time, MEA has used RECs to ‘green’ most of its portfolio. It appears RECs have become MEA’s cake, platter, plates, and utensils. Understanding RECs http://novato.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener
Jim Phelps February 27, 2013 at 04:47 PM
The salaries of MEA staff are tied to the success of MEA continuing without interruption. I disagree with most of MEA’s Jamie Tuckey’s revision of the facts. Rate Change “bringing our rates closer to PG&E” obfuscates the issue. PG&E has NOTHING to do with price promises made by MEA MEA’s transcribed commitment shows “fixed” and “locked-in” rates until after 2015, according to their transcribed statements made in April 2012. Rate Setting Process MEA writes “In 2013, rates will increase for all customers due primarily to higher power supply costs associated with serving all MCE customers.” This does not conform to MEA’s “fixed” and “locked-in” representation of April 2012. Market Cost of Electricity This does not conform to representations made by MEA in Novato. Dawn Weisz had opportunity to say something clear, such as “Our prices will or may increase 7% after we enroll all of you.” She chose not to. She chose to say “fixed.” (continued to Part 2)
Tina McMillan February 27, 2013 at 05:12 PM
The only reason we have MEA is because county Supervisor's decided to get into the energy business. During the years before MEA's debut the county computer program known as SAP, was reported to be costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Supervisors spent their time on pet projects like MEA instead of minding the store, and eventually cost taxpayers $30 million dollars when SAP failed and their bogus lawsuit with it. MEA does not produce green anything. It employs a handful of local people. It is a purchasing collective that buys from corporations that do not provide local jobs and whose own histories of energy production are rife with misdeeds. Just look up Royal Dutch Shell to begin to understand why they can afford to sell so cheaply to MEA and understand that most of Electricite Francaise' revenue comes from being the second largest producer of Nuclear power in the world. MEA is not greener than PGE. MEA takes money from consumers that in PGE's hands can go directly to the production of clean energy solutions. It is time that MEA stopped marketing itself as greener or better than PGE. MEA's RECs don't even come from California. Many are purchased in states like Oregon. In essence MEA buys bragging rights over Oregon's green energy. Remember that MEA does not produce or deliver energy, they just buy it. The focus on solar rooftops in San Rafael is needle in the green haystack. http://www.pge.com/en/about/environment/pge/cleanenergy/index.page
Jim Phelps February 27, 2013 at 05:23 PM
MEA – Part 2 Misrepresentation of the University of California The text stands on its own. RECs allow MEA to deliver an illusion. The professor who said this put it in this context = RECs are a scam. http://energybrokernetwork.com/press_ltr.pdf Conflicting viewpoints regarding RECs The Town of Ross appeared intent on joining MEA and paying to buy a specious version of “green” energy, which is rejected by the Sierra Club (another MEA resource-type is now being reviewed for the State PUC). The context I was describing the “RECs allow everyone to be green” quote was that if you are going to pay for an illusion, why not cut out MEA’s margin and buy RECs yourself? At the Ross meeting Dawn Weisz referred to MEA’s use of RECs as “the icing on the cake.” Since that time, MEA has used RECs to ‘green’ most of its portfolio. It appears RECs have become MEA’s cake, platter, plates, and utensils. Understanding RECs http://novato.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener
MCE Representative February 27, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Mr. Phelps, Fixed and locked-in rates for purchase of electricity refers to the fact that the rates for electricity are set by contract. If the cost of generation suddenly doubles for some reason, we would continue to pay the fixed contracted price. I'm sure you're already aware that the rates associated with conventional power were set to increase in 2013, as you specifically raised this issue during the last contract amendment. Our rates have remained stable but are always reexamined once per year. Historically, we've been able to lower rates. This year, we have a 7% increase, smaller than the 11-12% increase in January from PG&E. As a result of these increases, we currently have lower rates for just about every customer - even after PG&E adds in their fees. In April, we'll still be much lower than PG&E, but their fees will bring rates about even: about $0.90 more for some residential customers, and still cheaper for most businesses. Justin Kudo Account Manager, MCE
MCE Representative February 27, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Mr. Phelps, The article you cite disproves the claims you're trying to say it makes. You've cited it on several occasions as the position of the University of California, when in reality it's an op-ed from a professor at UCSC who's writing to oppose the fact that the school (like many others in the UC system) offsets its conventional electric usage by purchasing RECs equivalent to support generation from renewable resources. If anything, it demonstrates the University of California supporting RECs, but shows one person's dissenting opinion. Your comments on RECs are often made in an effort to discredit the system without acknowledgment of the nuances or differences within it. It's worth noting that all grid-tied renewable generation produces both electricity and RECs. I would encourage that individuals interested or concerned with RECs take the opportunity to review the United States Environmental Protection Agency's information on RECs, available at their website at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/gpmarket/rec.htm. Justin Kudo Account Manager, MCE
Scott February 27, 2013 at 06:29 PM
There seems to be a disconnect in your numbers. If you're raising rates 7% and they're due to non-renewable cost increase, then you're suggesting non-renewable cost increases are growing at an astronomical rate. If, for instance, your mix of renewable to non-renewable energy is 50/50, then that would suggest non-renewable costs are going up 14%. And if your mix is much more skewed towards renewable energy, as is your mission, then that implies non-renewable costs are rising at even higher levels. This is simply not credible. I also find it misleading that you're raising rates in any case after all the publicity surrounding the roll-out implying rates wouldn't increase for many years. I guess it was in the fine print that rates would increase, well above inflation, due to costs associated with something in which you're not supposed to be engaged. I never believed a government agency could operate a business venture more efficiently than a private one (even a regulated monopoly), particularly a highly capital intensive business with a much smaller customer base, and was extremely angered by you forcing me out of my customer/vendor relationship without direct action (twice because apparently I could only do it in a certain window of time) on my own to reject it. Now that you're being so obviously misleading, I'm glad I was diligent to reject your service.
ex-DWPworker February 27, 2013 at 06:58 PM
MCE, my experience with RECs is that we thought they were a joke but that they helped us get around environmental restrictions. I remember one year at IPP coal plant (Delta, Ut) we were running at high temps that caused a spike in our monitoring equipment. When the emissions alarms sounded all of the control room operators yelled "RECs!" We all laughed about the clean power that CA thought it was getting.
Tina McMillan February 27, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Justin/MEA PR We get it. EVERYONE is using REC's so why the big deal?! The big deal is that MEA was touted as being in the business of purchasing and creating green energy on a large scale. We both know that is not possible. You can't build much of anything until you accumulate the research/development fees attached to customers accounts and even then you will never have the power to develop at the same rate as PGE. If all you claimed was to give people a less expensive source of power, you dropped all the green claims and you became an Opt In agency, then people like me would stop complaining about MEA. But you don't do that. Instead you make grandiose claims to be the greenest fellows on the block and you use REC's to do it. Its all a dog and pony show and it was done at tax payer expense when the board of supervisors spent years working on this project. You are not energy generators, providers or producers. You simply bill your customers for work done by PGE and other large corporations. The solar projects that you have described could have been accomplished through PGE or with funds from jurisdictions that wanted to become part of these new projects. There was never a need for what MEA does. It is a hoax. The time wasted on creating this agency and setting it up as if it truly competes with PGE is a waste of taxpayer money and puts us even further behind in our attempts at energy conservation.
MillValleyMom February 27, 2013 at 11:33 PM
MCE double-talk. Tina, my husband works at the CA Public Utilities Commission. PG&E wants to sell a product known as ‘Green Option’ that’s 100% RECs. Last year MEA filed a motion against PG&E claiming the Green Option would have a “chilling effect on other green undertakings” and likely won’t be successful because “customers will need to OPT-IN.” What a bunch of malarkey. MEA claims it’s the only game in town because of its Opt Out (slamming)? Can you imagine MEA’s reaction if PG&E tried to sneak an Opt Out program past everyone? Also, MEA claims that RECs stimulate renewables development and have a positive effect on the industry. Meaning MEA should hope lots of people buy lots of RECs at every opportunity. It’s interesting to read what MEA Public Relations writes on the Patch and on its website, compared to what MEA says behind closed doors. Who is ‘remarkably inaccurate and misleading readers’?? Here’s MEA’s Green Option protest filing at CPUC, go to page 2: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/RESP/167673.PDF
Scott February 28, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Wow, it's a short, 4 page double spaced, document and I suggest anyone interested in what MEA really stands for, read it. It clearly shows how duplicitous and deceptive they are. MEA says it supports customer choice and then complains about PG&E being a monopoly. And yet MEA is trying to prevent competition from PG&E - which reduces customer choice and furthers their own monopolistic behavior. Their arguments in the letter twist logic to the extreme. They must be populated by simpletons. It's ridiculous that MEA even dares say they support customer choice after they forced everyone into their service and required them to opt out. I wasn't their customer until they forced me to be without my approval and required me to switch back to the way I had it. Obnoxious. If you can't convince people to opt into your product and instead have to force them into buying it, then you don't have confidence in your product and neither should consumers.
MCE Representative February 28, 2013 at 12:29 AM
Tina, Thank you for taking the time to voice all of your concerns. There seems to be a disconnect regarding exactly how utilities contract for electricity. If I'm reading your comments right, you're suggesting that MCE generation is less valid because MCE doesn't "build it" the way PG&E does. In fact, PG&E and MCE both contract with third-party generators to provide electricity from various sources. The responsible utility then reports on the generation to the CPUC and is responsible for handling the credit of those renewables (and retiring the RECs created alongside that generation). Regarding the opt opt process, we regret that it is inconvenient for some customers. State law enacted in 2002 requires that Community Choice Aggregation programs be "opt out" rather than "opt in". When MCE began service much later in 2010, it was required to be "opt out". MCE does not bill its customers for "work done by PGE", it bills its customers for its own generation in lieu of PG&E's. PG&E continues to charge customers for services such as transmission the same as they always have. The San Rafael Airport is a great example of a solar project that couldn't be built under PG&E, but was enabled by MCE's FIT which created added local demand. MCE has a higher threshold for renewable content than PG&E's, adding demand to the market. Most states (CA a rare exception) have many third party providers similar to MCE, except they're for-profit. Justin Kudo Acct. Manager, MCE
Bob Ratto February 28, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Wow, that CPUC piece was quite interesting...the word "disingenuous" immediately sprang to mind...while the legislature mandated that Community Choice Aggregators be "Opt-out", I don't think there was a thought given to the idea that a former monopoly trying to create a competing product (for which you need to opt in) would somehow be viewed as bad for competition. It's sort of like "our phony green energy is better than their phony green energy"...neither one has any material impact on GHG reduction-the only way that changes is through conservation and development and use of alternative energy. REC's simply don't supply enough "kick" to power providers to engage in changed behavior. For those with MCE, I suppose you can "feel" better about your energy sources, even though the electrons you are receiving are exactly the same as everyone else's..you do not have a special "green" wire coming to your house. If you aggregated Hydro and other renewable sources to the PGE power generation sources, I would venture the differences would be highly immaterial. Do yourself a favor, turn off lights when not in use, buy some solar panels.
MCE Representative February 28, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Thank you for the commentary and review of MCE's commentary on PG&E's proposed "Green Option". Please keep in mind that the filing is a response (and not a protest; MCE never filed a protest on this issue), and indicates that the comments are not intended to oppose PG&E's proposed Green Option. In fact, MCE has applauded the Green Option on other occasions, especially given that on its surface it appears designed to mimic the Deep Green option provided by MCE. MCE's comments do however encourage the commission to take care that PG&E's proposed program not be used as a means to discourage the establishment of other renewable-focused CCA programs. PG&E has a history of trying to create incentives for community support and to prevent competition, be it from a CCA or other utilities such as SMUD. MCE hopes that care is taken to ensure PG&E's Green Option is not used in such a manner. It is however notable that PG&E has attempted to implement a similar program on an opt-in basis called ClimateSmart, which had tremendously low participation and was not successful in its objectives while its standard energy remained below CA Renewable Portfolio Standard minimum requirements. This same concern exists for the Green Option. Justin Kudo Account Manager, MCE
kathy fielding February 28, 2013 at 01:03 AM
I read the MCE document, too. You mean manipulators, not double-talk. Who are these people? I thought MCE represented us, not themselves. MCE wants PG&E to account for all expenditures, which is a good idea, but I looked at MCE's financial statement and they don't show anything like that tells me how much they spend for their types of energy. Isn't that a basic accounting disclosure for a company that sells nothing but energy and credits?
kathy fielding February 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM
MCE's Justin Kudo sounds like a speech writer for spinning politician. It was a "response" not a "protest." (I read one of his Patch posts about inflated greenhouse gas numbers where he said the numbers were "estimated" not "actual”). After MCE lobbies against PG&E’s Green Option in the CPUC filing that MillValleyMom shows, Mr. Kudo now says MCE "applauded" it. Honestly, Mr. Kudo! You sound like a trouble-shooting political handler to me,,, the same one who coached Bill Clinton to repeat over and over that he didn't have sexual relations with that woman.
Tina McMillan February 28, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Justin Lets start with the basics: 1. How many well paid jobs with benefits does MEA provide as compared to PGE? 2. How much infrastructure does MEA directly support with employees such as power lines, gas lines, and other means of delivering energy to households compared to PGE? 3. In which cases does PGE use and Opt Out Model of contracting service as compared to MEA? 4. How many solar and wind projects has PGE developed as compared to MEA? 5. How many time did I have to contact MEA to make sure that my online Opt Out was received as compared to transferring services with PGE? 6. How many times has MEA claimed that they are the primary provider of clean energy in the Bay Area as compared to PGE?
Scott February 28, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Justin, you are completely wrong. The letter you wrote was a protest. The proof is in the very first paragraph in which it says: "...The Application was noticed in the Commission’s Daily Calendar on April 25, 2012, meaning that this protest is timely filed. " See that fourth word from the end? If you're going to keep trying to spin the facts to make yourself look good, you should at least do it well. Otherwise you look foolish. So far none of your spinning has stuck.
kathy fielding February 28, 2013 at 01:46 AM
Reading MCE's propaganda is like riding Space Mountain with an ear infection and a bag over your head. The epitome of nauseating.
Tina McMillan February 28, 2013 at 01:48 AM
http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/us--pge-unveils-green-energy-program_100006540/#axzz2M9bDuZWC PG&E unveils green energy program 25. April 2012 | Markets & Trends | By: Becky Stuart "Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has unveiled its plans to offer a new clean energy program, the "Green Option", which aims to promote the use of renewable energy. The U.S. utility has asked the California Public Utilities Commission to approve it by early 2013." "PG&E says it generates over 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In a recent study by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), PG&E was identified as the most "solar-active" utility, having installed 228 megawatts worth of photovoltaic systems in 2011. The utility additionally integrated over 13,600 customer-cited projects." "SEPA went onto say that solar electricity procured by utilities is essential for "rapid solar market expansion" in the U.S. In 2011, it said utility-driven procurement represented a massive 39 percent of 2011’s new solar capacity, compared to just nine percent in 2008. It adds that this could increase to 1.5 gigawatts this year." Why is it good for MEA but not okay for PGE to offer its customers the opportunity to invest in Wind, Solar and REC's? If REC's are so wonderful, what makes them less so when they are purchased outside of MEA? Isn't the truth that MEA is afraid that the public will stay with PGE because it can do as much and more than MEA?
Michael February 28, 2013 at 01:57 AM
right on Tina. Once again we have let the board off when they should be held accountable for the SAP debacle. I get sick and tired of politicians driving a project and then running for the hills when it goes bad blaming everyone else but themselves. If any of the current board disagrees with my view then please tell me what consequences any of the board members have dealt with PERSONALLY as a result of the SAP debackle wasting $30MILLION! of out tax dollars? Hear the silence voters? And I can't believe so many have fallen for the pile of hogwash MEA delivers. All we did is to allow yet another middle man into the power business. Just what we needed. And these carbon credits or whatever new name they like to give them is a scam played on the back of the money sucking GREEN game. The only thing green about any of this is how much gr$$n the employees of MEA have put into their pockets for basically doing nothing. They create nothing and just push paper. We already have reliable power delivered to us so why did we need another middle man?
Eleanor Sluis February 28, 2013 at 04:10 AM
MEA is a catalyst for PGE’s solar and wind energy production. This drives competition. Competition means improving products for the market place. Both companies, PGE and MEA, will grow their products of clean energy and the public will profit by having cleaner air and healthier lives. I wonder if federal monies would be better spent in fostering alternative energy products such as solar and wind and getting them to the public rather than using $ 65 billion – 65,000,000,000 dollars for a train running from Los Angeles to Sacramento. The costs of transportation in California relate to the expectation of an increase in population, housing, and foreign trade. Foreign entities want to sell their exports and want cheap transportation for their goods. Thus, energy production for fuel, whether it is clean such as solar and wind, or dirty such as coal, oil and diesel concerns the public as it wants clean energy, the government as it wants taxes from imports, and the businesses as they want the profits. What are some solutions?
Tina McMillan February 28, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Eleanor We must agree to disagree. AB32 and SB375 were the catalysts for the greening of the energy field. MEA is an expensive fraud. It's existence caused supervisors to turn a blind eye to money being misspent to the tune of $30 million dollars and that is only one example of wrong doing while CCA's were developed. Last year MTC bought the old Post Office Building in SF to move offices there from Oakland. They took money meant to fund transportation and put it into a building that later required millions of dollars to remodel and rehab. We have government that has grown so bold as to misuse taxpayer money without fear of consequence. Take the time to read the PGE website for their solar and wind projects. They have been working on green energy all along. We did not need this distraction.
Jim Phelps February 28, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Eleanor, you write “MEA is a catalyst for PGE’s solar and wind energy production.” This requires a new definition of catalyst. The California Air Resources Board implementation of AB32 drove PG&E, and others to which AB32 mandates apply, to renewables well before MEA showed up. MEA was not the catalyst for solar or wind, AB32 was and now Cap & Trade is. Current renewables include Ivanpah solar thermal plant will soon go live -- development began 3 years before MEA arrived in Marin. Earlier this month, PG&E began receiving energy from a 66 MW PV plant, about the same as MEA’s combined PPA (and single FIT) renewables. Many others. PG&E was into renewables well before most IPPs showed up. This included small hydro, Geysers geothermal, and Altamont wind farm where engineers conducted R&D experiments with axial fans and egg beaters. PG&E tried to develop ocean wave technology but abandoned the concept. MEA leaders were in grade school when many of these renewables were in design & development.
Doug Karpa March 09, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Sadly, it seems many here have no idea how the grid actually works. When you buy electrictity, that power is dumped onto a grid that stretches from Mexico into Canada and east to the Rockies. When you use power, someone has to generate it and push it into a common pool. Since you can't track individual electrons on the grid what happens instead is that you contract with a renewable energy producer to generate the same amount of power as you use. It is ALWAYS just an accounting system to show that the amount of green power used equals the amount generated. What this means is that at best is you can contract with a renewable energy generator to generate an equivalent amount of power equal to the energy you used and then keep track of that generation so it can't be sold twice. Guess what you call that accounting system that says a renewable generator produced that much power: a REC. That's what a REC is: a contract to generate a certain amount of renewable power. It isn't a scam or an illusion or anything else that folks who don't understand the grid misapprehend. The notion of "greening" a "brown" supply is a fallacy. If you buy a REC, that means a renewable generator somewhere produced power for you. As a former renewable energy entrepreneur, I can tell you that RECS let the renewable energy generator get paid a premium for their renewable power. So, yes, a REC means that green power was produced, and buy RECs DEFINITELY supports the renewable power industry!
Doug Karpa March 09, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Apparently Professor Press has never run a power company to understand that offsetting some of the extra costs still helps the bottom line, even if it isn't all of it. Also, he seems to not understand what "buying electricity" means.
Doug Karpa March 09, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Um. Is it bad to point out that renewable power generated in Oregon does just as much to slow climate change and reduce the demand for coal fired power as power generated in Marin as long as people are buying it?
Tina McMillan March 09, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Doug I disagree. MEA was formed because the public were told that it would be a cleaner, greener, cheaper source of energy from local companies. In reality it is none of these. It is essentially a holding company for REC's and other contracts. PGE can do the same things that MEA does, on a larger scale and can and does build actual solar and wind facilities in California. While it doesn't matter to you where the energy comes from and you see the grid as if there are no local jobs involved, the employees at PGE may have a different opinion. These are well paid local jobs with benefits that support our entire community. MEA has few jobs but highly paid consultants that purchase energy from the grid and that do nothing to supply, maintain, and otherwise work with the grid of which you speak. Since they have so little to lose why should they be paid so much? https://marincleanenergy.info/our-team As I said earlier if MEA was a private, Opt In company that didn't attempt to undermine its competitors with misleading and false propaganda, it would not be a problem. To compare MEA with PGE is ludicrous but it is what MEA has done to sell it's contracts with huge corporations like Electricite Francaise and Royal Dutch Shell as somehow, local, green and clean. It doesn't pass the smell test.

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