Community Choice Energy
Community Choice energy is one of the most powerful vehicles for communities to reduce their use of fossil-fuel-generated electricity and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. When a local government establishes a Community Choice energy program, it can procure electricity on behalf of ratepayers. It can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions both by purchasing renewable power on the market, and also, more importantly, by developing local renewable resources. Such programs can provide important community benefits like economic development, clean-energy jobs, lower electricity bills, and increased community resiliency. That's why the Sierra Club Bay Chapter has campaigned to democratize energy by establishing Community Choice energy programs throughout the Bay Area.
Our first big success was in Marin County, where Marin Clean Energy has been providing cleaner power to residents since 2010. In 2012 the city of Richmond also joined MCE.
Next, in September 2012 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation that established CleanPowerSF. This program will build hundreds of megawatts of energy efficiency and local renewable generation and provide thousands of clean-energy jobs. The program will begin with an initial purchase of renewable electricity and deliver it to 70,000 residential customers commencing hopefully some time in 2014.
We will continue promoting energy-demand reduction and local generation of renewable power. Our next big Community Choice energy campaign is to establish a Community Choice program in the East Bay. Unfortunately the East Bay Municipal Utility District has declined for now to prepare a feasibility study (see theYodeler.org/?p=6289), and so we are now focusing on gaining the interest of individual cities (see theYodeler.org/?p=8976). For more information, check out the Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland campaign of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition and the Community Choice Working Group of the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition.
With worsening extreme weather conditions and wildfires, and continuing high unemployment, the need is increasingly clear for the Bay Area to take the lead in replacing outdated fossil-fuel energy sources with clean power as rapidly as possible.
The Sierra Club is working to move the American economy from its reliance on dirty fossil-fuel energy to clean, green, renewable technologies. Bay Area Community Choice agencies will be among the nation's first to do their own local energy procurement. This Community Choice energy program (akin to a co-op for purchasing and generating energy) will be able to bring online renewable energy rapidly, as well as invest in new renewable energy and energy efficiency. This will create local jobs, and the program can set prices that are affordable to the average resident.
To address the dual crisis, California has passed a series of laws (including SB 375 and AB 32) meant to cut carbon emissions. California is also pioneering alternatives to the investor-owned utilities. These have been enabled by the Community Choice law (AB 117) allowing local agencies to procure energy on behalf of ratepayers, and strengthened by Mark Leno with SB 790 in 2011.
Spread the word! Like the Sierra Club's Community Page and help end the PG&E monopoly. Advocate for a strong program with low costs that builds new local renewable energy sources and creates local jobs!