Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Peninsula Clean Energy will be offering three options -- 100, 50 and 35 percent -- for the share of electricity from renewable sources. The program will actually be offering just two options: 100 percent and 50 percent.
Portola Valley's Town Council approved a plan on May 25 that will have the greenest baseline possible in effect when a program launches in April 2017 offering residents renewable sources of electricity as alternatives to the sources used by Pacific Gas & Electric company.
By unanimous vote, with Councilwoman Ann Wengert absent, the council's action assigns households in Portola Valley to the greenest of two choices -- 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources or 50 percent -- expected to be on offer from the countywide Peninsula Clean Energy program.
For the 50-percent choice, the program, managed jointly by officials from participating communities, would offer rates lower than PG&E's current rates, officials say. The 100 percent option is expected to be higher by about $3 -- between $5 and $20 a month for larger houses, Councilman Jeff Aalfs said -- but even that rate is expected to drop as time goes on.
As the program gets underway, customers will have several opportunities to opt out of the 100 percent baseline choice and go with any of the others. An option to return to PG&E will always be available.
By law, PG&E will continue to handle customer billing and maintain the infrastructure supplying the electricity.
For communities starting at a baseline other than 100 percent, the program debut is set for October 2015. The six-month difference in launch dates is meant, in part, to allow time "to procure the power" for communities that opt for 100 percent green, said Brandi de Garmeaux, who manages Portola Valley's sustainability programs.
"I'm so excited that Portola Valley is being true to its roots," said Mayor Maryann Moise Derwin before the vote. "This is completely in keeping with our ethos."
"I think it would be a great thing to do," said Councilman Craig Hughes. "It's well worth it, given the greenhouse gas reductions."
If the 100 percent option is widely supported in town, Portola Valley would be "just shy" of its greenhouse gas reduction goal for the year 2020, Mr. Hughes said.
Records show that Portola Valley residents use two to three times more electricity than the average customer in San Mateo County, Ms. de Garmeaux noted.