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City Sticks with PG&E Rather than Marin Clean Energy ... Your Reaction?

Costs would have been about $7,800 higher to get "green" power from joint powers authority.

Are you pleased or disappointed that the city of Novato has decided to remain a customer of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. rather than buy power from the "green" Marin Energy Authority?

The Novato City Council, which last fall the joint powers authority and give city residents an option to purchase electricity from mostly renewable resources, voted 4-1 to stick with PG&E on Tuesday night, according to a story in the . The council was told by city staff that costs would be about $7,800 higher next year if it switched to the locally run Marin Clean Energy, which is run by the Marin Energy Authority.

Are you surprised? Share a comment below.

Paul E. June 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
I will remember and I will vote for her. Thank you Denise.
Paul E. June 14, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Thank you Ed. I completely agree with you.
Paul E. June 14, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Thank you Eleanor.
Brant June 14, 2012 at 09:28 PM
What large reductions in carbon emissions? As I now hear it, PG&E is about 50% carbon free when nuclear and large hydro are considered. And MCE is about 50% carbon free for light green. And the PG&E % is a real number - one that does not depend on the purchase of RECs.
Tired June 14, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Me too- thank you Denise for being the only Coucilmember who seems to care about the future for our children and our grandchildren. The Council speds millions on consulting fees etc, but cannot afford $7,800 per year (less than 2% of their budget) to cut the greenhouse gas emisions in half, create local jobs, and keep the investment local instead of giving it to fatcat PG&E shareholders.
David Fox June 14, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Totally with you Ed. We did the same... as soon as MEA was "plugged in", we opted for the Deep Green plan. And now that we've installed our own solar, MEA is buying our excess energy we generate at a rate much higher than PG&E would ($.01 per kWH over the retail current rate).
Brant June 14, 2012 at 09:45 PM
If the Novato Council were to make the decision to pay a tiny premium of about $8,000/year about 15 times, they would have to fire an additional employee to hold their budget at its current level. Tiny premiums have a dramatic cumulative effect. The council made the correct decision in staying with PG&E, which provides power as clean as light green when nuclear and large hydro are included.
Bob Ratto June 14, 2012 at 09:50 PM
It is so very, very easy to take shots at PG&E, and they certainly deserve their fair share. There is one very big difference between PGE and MCE, PGE actually DOES SOMETHING. When you do things, things happen. MCE does nothing-the electricity coming through lines does not have a "light green" or dark green" color-it is exactly the same. If it makes you feel good that you are somehow doing something for the environment, well good for you. MCE has strayed very far from it's original path, which is pretty disturbing-REC's are a well known sham.
KM Tracey June 14, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I wouldn't say this is the best ever council because they have done many damaging things to this town, but this is one thing they did right by the people on and we appreciate it.
Eleanor Sluis June 14, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Bob - a healthy community is important. Here is part of the contract with MCE.. Please see: http://meatruth.org/french/enXco_PPA_from_7.7.11_Supplemental.Board.Packet_Final-2.pdf Background – enXco Development Corp. _ Wholly owned subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles _ North American headquarters in San Diego with local offices in San Ramon _ 700+ employees _ 267 MW of installed solar capacity worldwide; 65 MW of installed solar capacity in North America; >3,400 MW of solar under development _ 4,271 MW of renewable capacity (wind & solar) worldwide; 1,235 in North America _ 1,019 MW under development in CA; 441 MW installed in CA _ 24 years of experience in renewable energy (1987; wind O&M) _ Credible municipal utility references _ Noteworthy items: enXco was the developer of the Sacramento Soleil PV project (Wilton, CA) supporting SMUD’s SolarShares program
Eleanor Sluis June 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM
More of the contract with MCE.Contract Overview – enXco Development Corp. _ Projects: 31 MW (AC, total aggregate capacity) comprised of multiple photovoltaic solar generators o Seller’s option based on schedule provided in PPA (six potential project locations) o Potential project sizes range from 7-12 MW o Local project: Seller committed to developing a 1 MW solar carport in Marin _ Below-market energy price – contract price will apply to local energy production _ Promotes achievement of key MEA objective _ May be used to support the development of a retail solar cooperative program, similar to SMUD’s SolarShares program _ Project locations: Primary projects located in Kern, Kings and/or Tulare Counties _ Project will utilize proven generating technologies: thin-film, fixed mount PV solar _ Planned commercial operation date: March 31, 2014 _ Contract term: 25 years _ Expected annual energy production: approximately 60,000 MWhs, including all environmental attributes associated therewith (approximately 7.5% of MEA’s annual energy requirements)
Bob Ratto June 14, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Eleanor Thanks for the contract Project locations: Primary projects located in Kern, Kings and/or Tulare Counties -so, those poor people will now not be avail to themselves of your "green" power, and will rely on more "brown" power...so, we can transmit electricity from 200+ miles away (with attendant transmission losses), all to wear the color du jour...
Quint Evans June 14, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Bob .......As usual your right on the money.not only will a by product of MCE be brown power it will also become a humungous bureacratic nightmare . MCE is cannibalising PG&E's infrastructure using PG&E's repair department dont you greenies realize that its going cost you big in the long run and create accountability problems ,questions and delays? , You can call the PUC now when you have a problem who are you going to call when MCE isnt giving you the juice? Maybe PG&E will bail you out for a price. Remember if your old enough the break up of AT&T ( divestiture ) and what a fiasco that was? Get ready to watch this one. The City coucil got this one right except for Denise Athas , She seems right in line with the big money people
Jim Phelps June 15, 2012 at 12:36 AM
MEA has an 18-yr and 20-yr contract with two landfill gas to energy sites (LFGTE). Here is a link to the Sierra Club Task Force report on LFGTE. http://www.sierraclub.org/policy/conservation/landfill-gas-report.pdf Check that first paragraph – the Task Force unanimously concludes that LFGTE results in INCREASED greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to how landfills are managed to maximize methane production in order to generate more electric power... and fugitive emissions. Rather than address the Sierra Club report, MEA ignores it and cites antiquated California regulations to justify its LFGTE contracts. The Novato City Council is wise by voting not to support Marin Energy's version of "clean" energy. I think most people believe that the Sierra Club is credible. BTW, here's a link for insight into MEA's 100% "Deep Green" -- http://novato.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener
Hugh Trenkamp June 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM
PG&E will still be the conduit to your home as I understand it.
Jim Phelps June 15, 2012 at 12:50 AM
At 60,000 MWhs, the enXco system (31 MW AC) must operate at 22% capacity factor. Photovoltaic systems typically operate at 18% -- 20% capacity factor, or 49,000 MWhs -- 54,000 MWhs. Thus, it appears MEA will sell it ratepayers between 6,000 and 11,000 RECs to cover the represented difference. http://novato.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener
Jim Phelps June 15, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Eleanor -- did you know that Marin Energy Authority claims the carbon neutral attributes from nuclear power while publicly rejecting nuclear power? MEA Resolution 2011-09 calls for nuclear plant closures, but when no one is looking MEA rides the "carbon-free" coattails of Diablo Canyon, San Onofre, Columbia, and Palo Verde nuclear power plants' energy that shows up in California system power. The 'local' power from MCE's power purchase agreements never makes it to Marin. MCE ratepayers get the exact same electrons as PG&E customers. Much of MCE's "green" energy is exclusively produced by gas-fired plants: http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener
Tina McMillan June 15, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Eleanor There are so many places where we share similar views and if I believed that MEA was local, was greener and was capable of making the substantial differences in carbon reduction that PGE is all ready pursuing I would also hop on its coat tails for a ride, but it's an illusion. PGE can provide the same renewables offered by MEA and at the same time has the money to build solar and wind farms. http://www.pge.com/about/environment/pge/cleanenergy/ " On average, approximately half of the electricity PG&E delivers to its customers comes from a combination of renewable and greenhouse gas-free resources." In addition to meeting SB375 goals, PGE employs the workers that build, maintain and other wise manage the infrastructure necessary to energy production. MEA buys REC's, buys energy from Royal Dutch Shell (I'm sure the Nigerians would have their own comments about Marin supporting this billion dollar corporation) and Electricite Francaise (largest supplier of nuclear in the world) and mixes brown energy from landfills with REC's to come up with green energy. It does not add up. The city has been struggling to reduce its budget deficit by investing in new lighting that will work more efficiently and save money at the same time. Why on earth would they vote with Athas to pay more for energy that is not greener. Being green on paper is not the same as being green in real life.
Rebekah Collins June 15, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Rebekah Collins 12:33 pm on Friday, June 15, 2012 I just want to say how very grateful I am to all the Town Council members, County Supervisors,Staff and board of MEA and advocates who understand the gravity of their responsibility to community and the natural world that keeps us all alive. MCE is NOT a green wash.It is a true alternative to the monopolized institutions which have placed all of life in precarious circumstances. Local officials grapple with the consequences of global warming - while the federal government still brings shame on this country in critical international arenas. I am grateful to all those who have the wisdom and courage to 'seize the day' for the common good, who are not stuck squinting & paralyzed seeking perfection till our chance is gone. Or worse, selling out their people's options in order to gain or keep corporate sugar daddies.
Rebekah Collins June 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM
This sent out from MEA this morning : ROSS—Last night the Ross Town Council Members voted 4-1 to enroll their municipal electric accounts with Marin Clean Energy’s Light Green 50% renewable energy service option. A cost analysis using final, approved rates to become effective on July 1, 2012 for both Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and PG&E indicated that switching to MCE would save the Town of Ross approximately $87.56 per year on electric generation costs. Chris Martin, Ross Council Member and Marin Energy Authority Board Director, said “We’re glad that we’re able to purchase cleaner energy on behalf of the Town. It’s the right thing to do for the environment and it also turns out to be not only competitive but a little bit cheaper than the investor-owned utility.” This week the California Public Utilities Commission approved revised rates for PG&E. PG&E’s revised rates include higher generation costs and lower exit fees, making choosing Marin Clean Energy a more cost competitive choice. In some cases, as exemplified through the Town of Ross cost comparison, MCE commercial costs can be even cheaper than PG&E’s. Marin Clean Energy will soon be announcing the release of an on-line rate calculator to help customers determine what the cost differential will be to switch from PG&E’s 20% renewable energy to MCE’s 50% renewable energy in July 2012. More information is available at: www.marincleanenergy.com
Tina McMillan June 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Rebekah PGE can purchase the same REC's to green up their energy as MEA. PGE currently has 50% of its energy invested in renewables. PGE continues to build, on a much larger scale and to lease on a much larger scale, wind and solar. PGE continues to create, maintain and deliver all your energy. Their employees are Bay Area residents. The only thing you get with MEA is a small group of highly paid consultants purchasing REC's, building small scale solar and purchasing energy from billion dollar corporations that dwarf PGE. If you hate corporate sugar daddies then certainly you will not purchase energy from either MEA or PGE. Please look up Royal Dutch Shell and Electricite Francaise. When MEA isn't purchasing REC's it is buying its energy from these corporations. Yes, lets seize the day for the common good by being honest with ourselves about our energy use, our efforts at conservation, and relying on local power as much as we can by creating legislation that will increase our supply of renewables in an honest and forthright manner.
Mark Schoenbaum June 16, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Rebekah: Have you been following the discussion at all? The whole REC is a scam that makes people feel 'good and green'. The fact is you do not know where the electricity is coming from. On the wire electrons are electrons. If you believe that paying more is going to have any impact on the environment then you go girl! Why don't you research what impact your choice will ultimately have on the environment, and since you have bought into the whole global warming thing, check out global temperature science for real facts instead of consuming the kool-aid.
Al Dugan June 16, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Wow, we agree.
Al Dugan June 16, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Wow...Tina puts up this thoughtful and timely comment and this is the response.... Need I say more...
Lloyd June 16, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Tina as usual you have researched the facts and presented us with an honest assessment. MCE is a wonderful concept however after listening today from one of their representatives attempt to explain REC I realized what a jumbled set of double speak they are. The bundling of REC's was reminiscent of the disingenuous and disastrous "mortgage back securities" of the housing debacle. MCE does not generate, transmit, maintain, service or even administer its own billing. They are a small group of energy middle-persons using legislation to create a make believe "green power" alternative. If only they actually supplied what they want us to believe they represent. I applaud the desire to replace carbon emission energy with green power. Unfortunately MCE has gone astray from its conceptual premises. Opt out until they stop the use of REC and offer a real green alternative instead of a "feel good' substitute.
Al Dugan June 16, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Wow, we agree.....there is hope....
Tina McMillan June 16, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Fighting Climate Change http://www.pge.com/about/environment/pge/climate/ Understanding and Reporting Our Impact "As a charter member of the California Climate Action Registry, PG&E was the first investor-owned utility in California to complete a third-party-verified inventory of our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2003. In 2009, PG&E began voluntary reporting to The Climate Registry, a non-profit organization that sets consistent and transparent reporting standards for North American businesses and governments. PG&E is a founding member of The Climate Registry. PG&E provides its customers with electricity that has among the lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation. In fact, PG&E's most recent independently verified CO2 emissions rate of 575 pounds of CO2 per MWh is about half the national average among utilities. In 2009, California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) greenhouse gas reporting regulations went into effect, requiring regulated entities such as PG&E to prepare and submit an annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory to the California Air Resources Board. In 2011, we will begin reporting the greenhouse gas emissions from some of our facilities and operations to the U.S. EPA under its new requirements. In addition, PG&E has participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project since 2005. PG&E's annual submission provides additional detail on our actions related to climate change and our greenhouse gas emissions profile."
Tina McMillan June 16, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I suspect Denise is all ready working on her run for office in 2013 by pandering to the votes from the sustainable community here in Novato. These folks are tied into the Marin Community Foundation. Their political clout is significant. When Denise first ran for city council it was on a completely different platform that was pro small business and fiscal conservatism. She is changing colors with the tide. Watch, there will be more behavior indicative of a coming election year...
Edwin Drake June 18, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Each and every airplane take-off equals 5,000 automobiles on the road for one year. Really want to help the environment? Stay home for your next vacation instead of flying to some distant destination. (That's just take-off emissions, and doesn't count either the emissions of flight time nor the high-altitude cloud condensation trails that are disruptive to the upper atmosphere.)
Novato Resident September 18, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Wow... some good conversation points here... and making me rethink my decision to use MCE. However, I am mystified that nuclear plants are now considered clean energy... how the heck did THAT happen??? I will never consider nuclear energy "clean" since it produces so very much material that is lethal to humans for centuries. Hydro's also responsible for the decimation of too many rivers and canyons and fish populations. To me clean energy primarily means solar or wind. I remember all the efforts made back in the 70's of many folks trying to promote renewable energy... and it pretty much went to the wayside. They were just considered a bunch of hippies! Just think if they had actually been embraced and backed...

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