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Town of Ross to Buy Marin Clean Energy Power

Days after Novato chooses to stick with PG&E, Ross figures it will save money by going with PG&E's rival.

Two days after Novato took a flier and said "no thanks," the Ross Town Council on Thursday voted 4-1 to enroll their municipal electric accounts with Marin Clean Energy’s light green 50 percent renewable energy service option, according to a Marin Clean Energy release.

A cost analysis using final rates to become effective on July 1 for both Marin Clean Energy and PG&E indicated that switching to MCE would save the town about $87.56 per year on electric generation costs.

“We’re glad that we’re able to purchase cleaner energy on behalf of the town," said Chris Martin, a Ross council member and Marin Energy Authority board director. "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.”

Novato calculated that switching to the light green option would cost $7,800 more per year than staying with PG&E service. The  — with Mayor Denise Athas in the minority — to decline enrollment with Marin Clean Energy.

But Marin Clean Energy said Novato did not conduct an apples-to-apples cost comparison. The analyses was done in early May before PG&E released revised rates that become effective on July 1. Rafael Silberblatt, a program coordinator with MCE, said MCE alerted Novato city staff to PG&E’s rate change and suggested that it ask PG&E to revise its cost analysis.

"Additionally, we asked PG&E directly to revise their comparison with the new proposed rates," Silverblatt wrote in an e-mail to MCE supporters. "Unfortunately, PG&E declined to do so citing that the revised rates were not yet approved. As a result of PG&E’s data being inaccurate, the cost comparison was far less favorable then it should have been."

This week the California Public Utilities Commission approved the revised rates for PG&E. Marin Clean Energy said those rates include higher generation costs and lower exit fees, making MCE a more cost-competitive choice.

"We have reached out to the city of Novato, whose council ... would like to reconsider enrollment after the July rates are approved, and requested to be included on an upcoming council meeting agenda right away," Silverblatt wrote.

Marin Clean Energy expects to release an online rate calculator to help customers determine what the cost differential will be to switch from PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy to MCE’s 50 percent renewable energy in July 2012. More information is available at www.marincleanenergy.com.

Jim Phelps June 15, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Average commercial rates in Ross less than 7 cents right now. Most Ross muni load is A-1 service. Here’s what happens to MEA prices in the Shell Energy contract next year: Contract power (basic non-"renewable") July 2013 = 20.5% price increase. Eligible Renewable Energy (Category 1) July 2013 = 9.6% price increase. Eligible Renewable Energy (Category 2) July 2013 = 18.5% price increase + carbon cost importation fees. Eligible Renewable Energy (Category 3 -- unbundled RECs) Unbundled Renewable Energy Certificates. MEA’s buying these without SENA (Shell Energy North America) http://novato.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener COMING FINANCIAL STRAIN OUTSIDE SENA MEA’s soon-to-be-implemented contracts with Rio Solar, G2, and enXco are 10.2 cents, 11.4 cents, and 12.1 cents, respectively, + applicable escalators. About 60% above 7 cents.
Bob Ratto June 16, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Jim The last line really caught my eye...a 60% increase? Not being well versed in power generation, but having a fair understanding of economics, it would appear that SENA and enXco are essentially subsidizing rates to MEA, resulting in an artificially lower energy rate than would be obtained in a true open market. Can you enlighten me if this is potentially the case?
Rebekah Collins June 16, 2012 at 01:09 AM
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.
Tina McMillan June 16, 2012 at 07:54 AM
Please do the research on PGE's renewable program before saying that buying energy from mega corporations, Electricite Francaise and Royal Dutch Shell, is a true alternative to "monopolized institutions which have placed all of life in precarious circumstances." MEA is made up of highly paid consultants/brokers. PGE provides all the actual service. PGE's commitment to renewables along with the fact that they provide jobs throughout the Bay Area makes them by far the more responsible local choice. Fighting Climate Change http://www.pge.com/about/environment/pge/climate/ "PG&E recognizes that the link between greenhouse gas emissions and the Earth’s warming climate is convincing, the potential consequences are serious and the need for action is urgent. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) named PG&E to the 2011 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index for both the S&P 500 and the Global 500 for climate change-related disclosure—recognizing PG&E for the quality of our reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and the business risks and opportunities from climate change. The CDP is an independent organization that maintains the largest global database of corporate climate change information.... 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."
Lloyd June 16, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Rebekka get a grip. No one is suggesting "green power" isn't better. It is too bad that MCE plays with the numbers. They are actually less green then PG&E. They are like, and please don't take this wrong, the Toyota Prius. Here is a hybrid that helps reduce greenhouse gases. Lets not talk about the battery technology that is so toxic for the moment. So I see all these hybrids on the highway. The owners so sure they are making a positive statement just like joining MCE. And guess what, I see so many of them in the carpool lane with those cute little yellow exemption stickers. And there they drive each with a single occupant. Kind of defeats the purpose don't you think?
Jim Phelps June 17, 2012 at 12:19 AM
PART 2: The enXco prices are super high over the 25-yr solar contract. The first few years MEA pays ~12.5 cents, or about 80% higher than MEA’s current prices. The G2 landfill gas “clean” energy is about 10.5 cents, or about 50% higher than MEA’s current prices. (I don’t think Rio Solar will make it out of surgery, so let’s forget that for now.). All of these substitution-energies-that-may-replace-some-SENA-energy have a weighted effect that drives up MEA’s current prices. The above is in addition to escalators that are built into the SENA contract, which I note above. All of this, while Dawn Weisz parades through Marin telling naïve consumers that MEA’s contracts have small built-in rate escalators that account for inflation. Perhaps she is talking about the sort of inflation that is about to hit the Greek banking system.
Jim Phelps June 17, 2012 at 12:23 AM
PART 1: MEA’s rates are manipulated to influence Residential Opt Outs. Feb 2, MEA announced prices (see 02.02.2012 Agenda item #16) that were -12% for Residential consumers, or 7.5 cents. All other rate classes got essentially zero reduction, save for Street Lighting and Large Commercial/Industrial (MMWD pumping). Feb 8, two LTEs to Marin IJ identified that PG&E prices would be 20% lower than MEA. On Feb 12, IJ Editorial identified that MEA prices would be 10% higher than PG&E. March 1, MEA revised its Residential rates to -18% of Residential rate revenue = 6.9 cents. MEA rate consultant John Dalessi (ex-Navigant) is involved in all pricing and price scenarios. He’s paid ~$318,000/yr. He notes that the revised SENA contract (02.02.2012) enabled this reduction (March 1 Agenda item #8). ... He didn’t know what was happening when he authored agenda #16 for the MEA Board on Feb 2? Isn’t he the financial planning rate planner?). Okay, then why did Residential get a huge reduction when the other MEA rate classes got comparatively socked? It’s evident MEA wanted to influence Opt Outs.
Jim Phelps June 17, 2012 at 12:34 AM
"Rebekah" pls read this: http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/marin-energy-authority-same-power-just-greener
Bob Ratto June 17, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Jim Thanks for answering my question from yesterday afternoon...so there was massive rate manipulation, which was undoubtedly brought about by Shell/EnXco essentially monopolizing power for MEA. Throw in a "token" green project (San Rafael Airport, which I believe they are not even constructing, just buying power from), and this all starts to become more clear. Marin is truly the county with more money than sense, or it has become that way...thanks for all your hard work, it is very appreciated.
Jim Phelps June 17, 2012 at 06:08 AM
MEA will window dress a sizable rate increase by citing need to procure power to serve Richmond load, which starts in 2014 I believe. MEA needs to buy ~30% add'l power to serve Richmond, or about 300,000 MWHs/ yr. Therefore, MEA needs +150,000 MWHs new renewables if it's 50% "renewable" energy. I checked MEA Tech Committee posting for June and they show MEA purchases ~ +75,000 MWHs/ yr of RECs to serve Richmond -- consistent with what MEA now pulling on Marin (are you reading this Dawn?). "Actually our renewable content is 50% of 50% and that's NOT delivered." BTW, yesterday, MEA's Jamie Tuckey presented to Novato Rotary. When questioned about RECs she told the group that only 8% of the 2011 Light Green energy was RECs -- that's right out of Weisz's playbook -- oh, you wanted the whole truth. http://meatruth.org/PDF/Binder1_.pdf

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