In April of this year PCE completed the rollout of its service throughout the entire county and is now serving approximately 290,000 accounts, from apartment dwellers to large industry. As promised, PCE is supplying power to these accounts that is lower in emissions than that of PG&E.
PCE's standard electric power mix includes renewable energy sources such as wind and solar (50 percent), and greenhouse gas-free large hydropower sources (30 percent) — meaning PCE's default offering is 80 percent emissions-free. By comparison, PG&E's power derives only 33 percent of its content from renewable sources and produces more greenhouse emissions per kilowatt-hour than does PCE.
PCE's cleaner electricity is expected to avoid 680 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions after one year of full countywide operations, which is equivalent to 34 million gallons of gasoline. And PCE has the goal of increasing its carbon-free supply by 5 percent each year, making it completely greenhouse gas-free in 2021.
Peninsula Clean Energy is also saving our customers money. PCE's default power product, ECOplus — what most people use — is priced at 5 percent below PG&E's rates for electric-generation service. This means that typical residential customers will save just over $2 per month while powering their homes with energy derived from cleaner sources. PCE expects to save electric customers about $17 million after one year of full countywide enrollment. While all customers benefit from their share of savings, we are particularly pleased to see that large public agencies such as school districts are reaping significant savings.
Peninsula Clean Energy also gives customers the choice of opting-up to a 100 percent renewable energy option called ECO100. That option costs a little more than what PG&E charges. At present, 13 of 20 local cities have enrolled their municipal accounts in the ECO100 product as a cost-effective means of achieving their state-mandated carbon reduction goals.
Over the last year PCE has helped grow the green energy market by signing contracts with seven electric power-generation facilities. One of these contracts, the largest signed to date by a community choice energy provider like PCE, will result in the construction of a new 200-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in nearby Merced County, with all of the electricity dedicated to San Mateo County customers.
While local residents and businesses can choose to leave PCE service and return to PG&E, relatively few have elected to do so. In fact, just 2 percent of PCE's customers have declined service, which is the lowest opt-out rate among all community choice energy providers in the state. As a result, we have seen greater-than-expected demand for PCE's power, greater emissions reductions, and higher-than-expected revenues.
Because PCE is a nonprofit, its revenue in excess of expenditures is being used to build PCE's rate-stabilization fund and pay off initial startup costs. These funds will also allow PCE to more quickly develop local renewable electricity projects or incentive programs for electric vehicles or energy storage.
We encourage you to calculate your own savings as a PCE customer, learn more about PCE operations, and better understand how your power bills may have changed by visiting peninsulacleanenergy.com/residents.
PCE is off to a great start as local residents are saving money, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping to create more green energy. While we have had many successes, we are just getting started in this new frontier of putting power in the hands of local residents and businesses.
Dave Pine and Carole Groom are members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Both serve on the Peninsula Clean Energy board of directors.
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