Residents can now sign up to participate in the October launch of the Peninsula Clean Energy program, a greener alternative to Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. as a source of electrical power.
By signing up independently, voluntary participants join the 20 percent of PG&E residential customers and all small- and medium-sized businesses in San Mateo County who will be automatically switched to the program in October.
Go to peninsulacleanenergy.com and click on the green rectangle that says, "Enroll me now!" Or call (866) 966-0110. You will need to know your PG&E account number, which is located in the upper right corner of your PG&E bill.
The remaining 80 percent of residents not enrolled for the October roll out will be automatically enrolled by April 2017, program spokesman David Burruto said.
Those who want to voluntarily enroll are urged to do so by Sept. 5. Those automatically enrolled will be informed of the change and of their right to opt out.
The default residential rate is expected to be lower than the PG&E rate. The default mix of energy will be 75 percent from sources that do not create greenhouse gasses, Mr. Burruto said.
For a typical monthly premium of about $5, customers can opt for electricity from 100 percent renewable sources.
Some 18 months in the making, the program is a collective -- commonly referred to as a joint powers authority -- that includes San Mateo County, the unincorporated communities and all 20 incorporated cities and towns, all of which are represented on the authority's board of directors.
Local representatives include council members Catherine Carlton for Menlo Park, Rick DeGolia for Atherton, Jeff Aalfs for Portola Valley and Daniel Yost for Woodside. Supervisors Dave Pine and Carole Groom represent the county.
Mr. Pine is also the chair and Mr. Aalfs the vice chair of an executive committee that, with CEO Jan Pepper, oversees the operation of the agency.
The authority chose the initial 20 percent residential enrollment so that all ZIP codes in the county were represented, Mr. Burruto said.
Not included in that 20 percent are residents of Portola Valley. The Town Council there decided in May to start its constituents off with the greenest option, which is pushing back the town's automatic enrollment to April 2017 to allow the authority time to procure the necessary power, said Brandi de Garmeaux, who manages the town's sustainability programs.
In Menlo Park, some households in Belle Haven, Sharon Heights, and some streets in western Menlo Park, among others, are slated to be in the first round of enrollment, according to program coordinator Carolyn Raider.
As the program gets underway, customers will have several opportunities to opt out of the default and go with another option. Returning to PG&E will always be an option -- at no cost if it's done within the first 60 days of service, or later for a one-time fee of $5 (for residents).
The authority purchases energy on the open market, but from sources that are renewable -- not derived from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal.
The authority's primary goal is reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the Peninsula and participating in efforts to slow climate change induced by human activity that, by burning fossil fuels, adds to the accumulation of such heat-trapping gases in the Earth's atmosphere.
If Peninsula Clean Energy is profitable, the earnings will be reinvested locally in new energy efficiency projects and programs, perhaps leading to new local green jobs, the agency says.
If the authority is not profitable, its purchase of a $100,000 bond, as required by law, will allow a smooth transition of customers back to PG&E, Mr. Burruto said.
Kate Bradshaw contributed to this report.