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Letter: Marin Clean Energy vs PG&E

Robert Wenig of Buena Vista Avenue breaks down the details of his electric bill in an attempt to compare Marin Clean Energy and PG&E.


I was surprised this month when I opened my bill and saw that I was switched (perhaps slammed) into Marin Clean Energy.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Discounting the “green” focus of Marin Clean Energy, will my electric bill be cheaper with Marin Clean Energy?

I have no clue – and trying to get accurate information from either Marin Clean Energy or PG&E is absolutely impossible.

My home has solar panels – approximately a 2500 Watt System.

I am on a time of day metering system, I believe that the tarrif is “E‐7”.

With PG&E, if I generate more power than I use – I sell the excess power back to PG&E.

Since the solar system does not operate at night, I buy power at night. Depending upon the day, during peak times, the solar system generates enough power for the house. As winter nears and the days grow shorter – the solar system becomes less useful.

With Marin Clean Energy – I am not sure if they buy back (i.e. credit) the excess power. PG&E suggests that I ask Marin Clean Energy about this – so surely something is up.

And then it gets even more confusing:

If you are a PG&E Customer, the rate structure looks like this: (For bundled service – includes electricity and distribution if I am reading this right)

Summer Peak Off-Peak Baseline Usage .31312 KW .07921 Tier 1 (above base) .33 .097 Tier 2 .48 .24

So, you ask Marin Clean Energy – what is their rate structure:

They say (for summer) – Peak is .30 (i.e. 30 cents), Off‐Peak is .05. No tiers, just a flat rate structure.

(In both cases, Peak is 12 PM – 6PM, Monday to Friday)

So, Marin Clean Energy is cheaper, right?

Not so fast – Marin Clean Energy just sells power. You have to pay PG&E for distribution. If you then look at the E‐7 rate sheet, and you see that for unbundled service, you pay .13 (13 cents) for distribution.

So, now Marin Clean Energy is more money for Baseline and Tier 1, and basically a break‐even for Tier 2.

Only if you get to Tier‐3 – will Marin Clean Energy Cost less (odd that the Green Provider rewards you for squandering energy).

So, how does the average homeowner make an informed decision?

I have spoken with Marin Clean Energy (888‐632‐3674).

I have spoken with normal PG&E( 800‐743‐5000), the Community Energy Side of PG&E (866‐743‐0335) and the Solar Side of PG&E (877‐743‐4112).

The call center at Marin Clean Energy is staffed by full trained reps who have expertise in politically correct double talk – i.e. you can never get a straight answer.

PG&E has more normal people who are not as gifted with words – however they can’t help me either.

What do I do?

Robert Wenig
181 Buena Vista Avenue

Let us know what you think of Robert's letter. And see what others had to say about Marin Clean Energy: Are You Happy with Marin Clean Energy So Far?

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SadTamValley Resident December 03, 2012 at 06:48 AM
The real deal is this. Out of a typical $150 energy bill, only about $25 of it has anything at all to do with MCE. Gas, transmission, distribution, new generation, nuclear commissioning, blah blah blah you have to pay PG&E no matter what. When you add up cheaper MCE electricity generation and the bogus PG&E exit fees that they levy on MCE customers, MCE customers pay 5-10% more for generation. But that is only for the generation which accounts for only a small portion of your bill. It all depends on how much gas vs. electricity you use, but on a typical Marin bill (without air conditioning) you are talking about 1-3% more. On my last $150 energy bill it was $1.50. For that $1.50 you get 50% renewable energy (as opposed to 20%), better customer service, a team that really does care (I have met some of these folks at alternative energy conferences), and a utility that tries to implement innovative Feed In Tarrif and Net Metering distributed (as in local) renewalbe energy policies. If you are wound up about paying $1.50 more for a month you should go back to your teabagging website and write some posts about how evil Sesame Street is instead of misleading people on this topic
Matt Test December 03, 2012 at 07:02 PM
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Citizentoo December 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Maybe I am not reading this correctly, but it seems that under this contract revision Shell will stop providing energy and a/s as of the third revision date. That is June 2, 2013. So doesn't that mean that MEA will be responsible itself for these primary load responsibilities almost 2 years sooner than under the original contract with Shell? My main concern is whether MEA can post the collateral for that volume. It is hardly a credit-worthy entity. MEA has been leaning on Shells credit status thus far--it will not have the ability to do that going forward. If Syria, Iran or the rest of the mid-east goes up in flames will MEA be able to stay in the market as cash collateral calls start?
Jim Phelps December 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
TamValley Resident confuses MEA's "rates" with total cost. Consumers pay MEA (Marin Clean Energy) rate + on-going monthly exit fees levied by PG&E. MEA promised to pay these fees, then broke that commitment after 9 months. MEA's initial pledge was "meet or beat" PG&E prices. That commitment included its costs for paying everyones on-going monthly exit fees. Much of MEA's energy is not green and emits greenhouse gases. "Renewable" is a generalized term used by state bureaucrats who often fail to properly apply technical shortcomings. Last year the CEC correctly suspended pipeline biomethane from its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Meanwhile, MEA includes biomethane (biogas) in the "clean" energy it procures from Shell.
Jim Phelps December 24, 2012 at 05:56 PM
The generalization holds true. It was illustrative for E-7. The bulk of your power purchases are winter, at night. Especially if you live in Tam Valley, as I used to, due to heater load attributable to fog. The "adjusted rates" to which you refer reflect commitments made by MEA.

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