Solar in Davis

Valley Clean Energy: Should I stay or should I go?

VCE_logo_color_white-border.png

We have fielded a few dozen calls, emails and text messages over the past week, primarily from Repower homeowners inquiring about Valley Clean Energy (VCE) piqued by recent VCE mailings. Simple questions: What is it? Should I opt out? What are the pros and cons?

Background: We had the privilege of serving on the City of Davis’ Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee. Over 14 months, our volunteer group deliberated yea/nae (should we do this?) and, if yea, in what form? Could be a curse of too much information, but we have been immersed since the start.

On June 1, all PG&E customers in the cities of Davis and Woodland and unincorporated Yolo County will be transitioned to VCE. By statute, this is how it works: You are automatically enrolled in the program; if you do not want to participate, you need to opt out.

What will happen? In simple terms, you will see a slight reduction in your electricity bill (about 2.5%, for starters) and you will enjoy, though it’s not tangible, cleaner electricity (i.e., electricity with a higher renewable energy content than what PG&E currently serves). Nothing will change with your service: PG&E will continue to manage the grid and provide customer service. In short, you will have cleaner electricity at a lower cost, with funds channeled through a community (Joint Powers Authority) organization. Here's a thorough FAQ from VCE's site.

What’s not to like? In our albeit biased opinion, nothing. And, the hallmark program (Marin Clean Energy) has proven that home and business owners can reduce their bills and their carbon footprints.

If you do not have solar panels on your home or business, do it. (In other words, do nothing … you’re enrolled.)

If you do have solar, the decision is a bit more nuanced. When you went solar, you received a 20-year commitment (Net Energy Metering Agreement) from PG&E to credit you for your solar-generated electricity for a period of 20 years. With VCE, this agreement is not broached: It’s between you and PG&E, regardless of who supplies your electricity. If your solar system was well-designed, it should eliminate/cover 90-100% of your electricity use. Hence, you are independently fulfilling the mission of VCE: Transition our community to clean, less expensive energy. And if you have solar, VCE will provide you with a bit more compensation that PG&E does. Click here for a thorough VCE overview for solar customers.

The wildcard: PG&E (and the other investor-owned utilities [IOUs] in California) are not happy. Community choice energy programs are a direct, competitive threat to their monopolies. Within a year, approximately 50% of IOU ratepayers will have access to community choice programs. PG&E has not dropped its shoulders, shrugged, and opined, “So be it.” They have (unsuccessfully and vigorously) fought community choice programs over the past decade, and their will is intensifying. What can PG&E do to solar owners (and all rate payers) in advent of community choice energy? 

With apologies for the ambiguity, feel free to contact us with questions: Click here, call 530-564-4292, or swing by our office (909 Fifth Street; the old Dairy Queen). We may not have definitive answers, but we are happy to elaborate.

YoloShines: Yolo Crisis Nursery

The past month has been a whirlwind, with a record number of homeowners in our community signing up for solar via the Repower program. To wit, our apologies for falling behind in our advocacy for the terrific community organizations our homeowners support.

On behalf of Davis residents Jim and Katrin Baxter, we are honored to donate $500 to Yolo Crisis Nursery. Here’s why the Baxters selected Yolo Crisis Nursery:

The Yolo Crisis Nursery provides critical support for the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society and their families during times of crisis. We are pleased to support their efforts and thank Repower Yolo for making this gift possible.

This donation hits home with us, having raised children in the community. And, my mom is a retired public school psychologist ... Yolo Crisis Nursery is one of her favorite, more impactful support groups.

Here's more from their website:

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is a place of hope for desperate parents and vulnerable children in Yolo County, California.

We provide a safe, temporary home for children up to age 5 during times of extreme family crisis, when young family members are most vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Our cozy three-bedroom home can accommodate four children overnight and 12 during the day. Our professional staff members offer not only essential care but also smiles, hugs and hope.

Equally important, we help parents and guardians resolve their immediate problems and gain family stability.

In short, we prevent abuse and save lives. We strengthen families. We build a better future for Yolo County and beyond.

Please join us in supporting Yolo Crisis Nursery. Click here to learn how you can get involved -- financially or personally -- and help propel YCN's service to our community.

And, thanks again to the Baxters for making Yolo shine!