Wednesday: Portola Valley may go with 100% renewable sources for electricity


Portola Valley's Town Council is set to consider on May 25 a venture that would give every household a choice in electricity suppliers starting in April 2017, but from a baseline that would have every household receiving 100 percent of its electricity from renewable non-fossil-fuel sources.

Customers would have easy options to reduce that percentage, say to 50 percent green electricity, or 35 percent, or to just stay with Pacific Gas & Electric company, but the customer would have to make a choice to avoid a 100 percent green supply.

The council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road in Portola Valley.

The Office of Sustainability in San Mateo County has been working with elected officials from the incorporated communities in the county to establish and jointly manage Peninsula Clean Energy, a program to enter into contracts with sources of renewable electricity as an alternative to PG&E.

In Phase 1 of the Peninsula Clean Energy program, set for October 2016, most PG&E residential customers in the county will likely be assigned to the program at a percentage of green electricity yet to be determined.

If the Portola Valley council were to commit the community to 100 percent green electricity as the baseline condition, that would delay the town's participation until April 2017 -- to avoid confusion and to allow additional time "to procure the power for those interested cities," said Brandi de Garmeaux, who manages sustainability programs for the town.

The 100 percent option is also likely to raise residents' rates. Program officials anticipate a premium over PG&E rates of about $3 -- between $5 and $20 a month for larger houses, Councilman Jeff Aalfs said in a recent letter to the town's online discussion group, PV-Forum.

Also on the May 25 council agenda: A proposed rate increase of approximately 3 percent for collection of garbage and materials for recycling and compost in town.

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1 person likes this
Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 24, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Here's a letter I just sent to the Town Council:

Although I've come to support a "yes" vote, please know that this whole thing sits very badly with me. With full understanding that residents can opt-down or opt-out of this program, the idea that the Town would make the decision of where I get my electricity, to your preferred-but-unproven vendor, at increased costs, which I should be happy about "because it's renewable", just feels wrong.

I had to research on my own to learn that the California law enabling CCEs has set up this opt-out process, so it's not really under your control. I expect that SOME town residents will be thrilled to join PCE, and in order for you to enable that, the town must join PCE and then the rest of us can opt out. I recommend you make very clear to residents that this whole process is not your idea, but is what you need to do. Right now, the way it's been presented doesn't make that point... you've positioned it like it's something you are very excited to bring to all of us.

I also fear that PCE is still very speculative, and isn't yet generating any green electricity; like the disaster of High Speed Rail, I bet that the end result will take longer, be less renewable, and be more expensive, than the optimistic promises on the web site.

As of now, I intend to opt out of PCE the moment I can. But after learning how the process works, and only on the assumption that I will forever be able to 100% opt out, I do support a vote to join the Town to PCE.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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