yolo county solar

Valley Clean Energy is here: Choice is good for solar homeowners

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Change can be a good thing. Or, it can be bad. Or, somewhere in between.

Choice, however, is good. If you had one option — for anything you do or buy — you’re stuck. You have no choice and must opt for the sole solution.

Choice enables consumers to make a decision, to weigh options and decide what’s in their best interest. Choice makes markets healthy and efficient, thus benefiting consumers.

For the past few generations, Yolo County residents have not had a choice regarding their electricity: PG&E, the de facto monopoly, was it. That ceased in June with the debut of Valley Clean Energy (VCE). Though nothing changed with our electricity delivery, customer service and billing, VCE was a change that confused some. This is understandable: Consumers now had a choice.

As we’ve shared in prior posts (here, here and here), if you do not have solar panels, VCE is a no brainer: Participate and you’ll save a few bucks each month while reducing your carbon footprint. Or, stick with PG&E and pay more to an investor-owned utility for dirtier energy. Case closed.

Furthermore, if you have solar or are considering going solar, VCE is a viable option. It provides solar homeowners with a choice for how to net-meter their electricity.

When VCE commenced its solar net-metering program in June, we identified and shared a few (in our opinion) flaws to their accounting methodology. In short order, VCE staff absorbed our input, consulted the public, and amended their solar program. This efficient, transparent and productive process evidences the virtue of a publicly-controlled program. (Imagine trying to get PG&E to modify their solar program … no chance.)

Effective January 1, 2019, VCE’s new net-metering program will take effect and homeowners with solar will have a choice. Here’s a quick summary:

  • If you installed solar before June 1, 2018 you will stick with your annual true-up date (that you currently employ with PG&E) and you will be enrolled in VCE’s program at your true-up.

  • If you went solar after June 1, 2018, your annual true-up date will be in March.

  • In both cases, your net-metering accounting will occur every month (versus once/year with PG&E). At the end of your 12-month solar accounting calendar, your true up ($) will be the same, except …

  • … with VCE, if your solar system generates more electricity than you use in a given month, you will receive an additional one-cent per kWh credit.

Importantly, when you go solar, you receive “permission to operate” from PG&E and you are grandfathered in for 20 years under the prevailing (California Public Utilities Commission mandated) net-metering program. Participating in VCE’s net-metering program does not impact your 20-year utility agreement. (This is critical; we received written acknowledgement from PG&E.)

So, congratulations, you now have a choice. Options are good and, for solar homeowners, VCE will put a few extra dollars in your pocket without harming your solar interconnection agreement.

Feel free to stop by our workspace or contact us with questions. Viva community choice!

YoloShines: Yolo Crisis Nursery

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As we’ve shared, every time a homeowner goes solar we donate $500 to the local nonprofit of their choice. We call this program “YoloShines,” in great part because we believe nonprofit organizations are the underlying fabric of our community — they make it shine! — and, thereby, we have a responsibility to support such groups.

Over the past year, seven Repower homeowners have selected Yolo Crisis Nursery (YCN) for their YoloShines gift; hence, we had the fortune of donating $3,500 to YCN in 2017. In an effort to shine a light on YCN and engage the community to join us in our support, here’s a quick profile of the organization.

First, a story that amplifies the impact of YCN:

About one year ago, a distraught young mom named Jess first came the Yolo Crisis Nursery.  After the birth of Jess’s second child she was home alone with her newborn and her toddler, and realized she was having trouble caring for them both by herself.  Jess’s decision to call the Nursery probably saved her baby’s life.

Over the phone, YCN staff invited Jess to bring both children to the Nursery, where we could care for them at no cost and give her a much-needed break.  Once the family arrived, the situation took a dramatic turn.  Executive Director Heather Sleuter looked at the baby and saw that he was far too listless.  She asked when he had last been fed.  Jess said she could not remember.

Heather directed one of our caregivers to comfort and care for the toddler and then drove both the baby and Jess to the hospital. 

The emergency room staff attended to the child, successfully treating him for severe dehydration.  The doctor told us the baby had come within hours of death.  Meanwhile, Jess received the medical attention she needed.  County authorities made arrangements for both children to move into temporary foster care.

While county officials and Jess worked toward family reunification, her health stabilized and the children eventually returned home.  The family was then enrolled in YCN’s Family Life Skills Program.  A Nursery staff member visited the family’s home for two hours a week for 12 weeks for hands-on parenting education.  Families who complete our program significantly increase the likelihood that they will remain together,’

Today, a year later, this family is doing well.  Jess is working and the children are happily enrolled in day care and preschool.

Wow. Thanks to Cam Stoufer with YCN for sharing the story of lives saved and changed.

All organizations have a purpose … Why does Yolo Crisis Nursery exist? The mission of the Yolo Crisis Nursery is to provide early intervention services to nurture healthy and resilient children, strengthen parents and preserve families. Our vision is that every child in Yolo County grows up in a safe, loving and stable home. The Nursery’s overarching goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect among young vulnerable children by partnering emergency childcare with wrap-around services for families in trauma or crisis. In doing so we keep children safe and families whole in our community.

In 2017, Yolo Crisis Nursery’s accomplishments included:

  • Families receiving childcare services who did not become clients of CPS: 99%
  • Families linked to case management counseling and community resources: 267
  • Families completing referral to wrap-around services: 98%
  • Children served and childcare slots provided: 178 (individual count - up 45% over previous year) and 2,342

Very significantly, 98% of the families the Nursery serves do not become clients of Child Protective Services.

Now, our punchline ... here’s how you can help (monetarily, personally, professionally): Yolo Crisis Nursery is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (Tax ID #47-1006055) which welcomes support from individuals, businesses, foundations, service and faith-based organizations in our community.  The Nursery provides care packages to our families and in-kind support is always welcome in the form of diapers, formula, clothes toys and other items for children.  Volunteer service projects occur throughout the year to maintain and enhance the Nursery facility for our children and families.  Volunteer positions are available annually on the Board of Directors and ongoing as members of the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, the fundraising and advocacy auxiliary of the Nursery.  Lastly, the community is invited to participate in the annual Krustaceans for Kids Crab Feed to support the Nursery’s programs.  This year the Crab Feed will be held on Saturday, March 24 at the Woodland Community and Senior Center from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  Tickets and sponsorships are on sale now.  More information is available at: www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

Please join us in supporting Yolo Crisis Nursery, a shining light in our community.

To Bolt or not to Bolt

Over the past 10 days, we've had a dozen or so conversations about Chevrolet's soon-to-be-released, all-electric Bolt. Concurrently, my wife is pondering a new car that's efficient, economical and suitable for a Davis-to-UCDMC commute. To wit, to Bolt or not to Bolt?

After all, what's not to like? Significant -- 238 miles -- all-electric range, a decently sporty design, and a good price tag (less than $40k before $7,500 in federal and $2,500 in state incentives). Pundits have proclaimed General Motors (with the Bolt) has beat Tesla (with its Model 3) to the dance.

General take through our lens: Electric vehicles powered by solar-generated electricity make great economic and environmental sense. Quick math:

Electricity costs

We have had the fortune of helping several hundred Yolo County homeowners evaluate solar. What we’ve learned: Their average cost of PG&E electricity is $0.25 per kWh, and their median monthly electricity bill is $185. Conversely, their cost to generate solar electricity averages $0.08 per kilowatt hour (kWh), amortized over the warrantied life of their solar panels. 

Transportation costs

For comparison, let’s assume an average car is driven 12,000 miles each year. If the car averages 25 miles per gallon, powered by petroleum, it will guzzle 480 gallons of gas annually. At $2.50 per gallon, annual fuel costs are $1,200, or $0.10/mile.

Electric vehicles yield, on average, four miles of range per kWh. Hence, you will consume 3,000 kWh to drive 12,000 miles. If you are purchasing electricity from PG&E, your annual “fuel” cost is $750 (or, $0.06/mile). If your electric car is powered by solar, your annual cost is $240 ($0.02/mile). (And, of course, if you charge at your workplace or one of a half-dozen free sites downtown, your cost is lower.)

Back to the Bolt. A few takes floated over the past week:

- Business Insider: The Chevy Bolt still doesn't compare to Tesla's Model 3

- Electrek: The very good Chevy Bolt reviews are in ... everyone forgot to ask the most important question

The latter from Electrek hits -- aside from design/style/brand cache/Elon-halo-effect virtues -- Tesla's sustainable competitive advantage. General Motors (and other automakers) need to get off their collective rears and solve the charging challenge. Their networks are established: Dealerships are sensible locations for super-charger stations.

Until then, the Bolt will be a bit better than my Leaf: Great for local transport and perhaps a trip to the Bay Area or Tahoe, but nonsensical to take to Oregon or Southern California. Here's hoping General Motors and others will tackle the simple (technology) but complex (logistical) challenge of building a charging network.

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Postscript: Great comparison of the Bolt and Model 3 in today's Clean Technica, echoing and amplifying many of our thoughts.

YoloShines: Yolo Farm to Fork

As we've shared, Yolo Farm to Fork is one of our favorite (most appetizing?) nonprofits. Like many small, scrappy organizations, F2F does a lot with a little, and their impact spans generations.

With our YoloShines program, Repower homeowners select a local nonprofit organization to which we donate $500. When the selected organization is one of our faves, our donation has even more meaning.

To wit, we would like to thank Davis resident Kirk Mills and his family for choosing Yolo Farm to Fork, and we are proud to donate $500. Here's an encapsulation of why the Mills family selected F2F:

The video on Yolo Farm to Fork's website really spoke to our family. We value buying local produce because it's delicious (mostly), but also because we know it has only traveled a short distance to our local store thereby creating less pollution in the traveling process. The idea of schools using local produce is so exciting. Even more exciting is the concept of school gardens. We know first hand how excited our son gets about our garden at home and how it makes him want to eat what he grows. It is truly a gift to see our son so excited about something so beneficial and positive that he will carry through his whole life.

Thank you, Kirk, for making a difference in our community. Please join the Mills family and Repower in supporting Yolo Farm to Fork.