Did you know 100 percent of your electricity could come from renewable sources with the click of your cursor? Or a phone call. Did you know you already are getting more clean energy than customers of PG&E?
Let’s first answer the question, who cares? You are saving money if you are getting your energy from MCE Clean Energy – just like 88 percent of the other residents of Walnut Creek do. PG&E charges more for their dirtier energy. Hard to believe, I know. Clean energy is from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Unless you took a special step to “opt out” of MCE, you are likely getting 50 percent clean energy at a rate 2-5 percent lower than PG&E’s 33 percent clean energy.
It might be confusing because you’re still getting a bill from PG&E. But, look at the one tiny line item that reads “electricity generation” and you’ll see MCE’s generation charge has replaced PG&E’s generation charge. This started in September 2016, but you probably didn’t notice. Ever since then, you’ve been saving money and getting cleaner energy coming to your home.
All about MCE
But the story gets better. MCE Clean Energy is a not-for-profit public agency without shareholders. Its governing board is made up of one elected council member from each participating city and one elected supervisor from each county in its jurisdiction (Contra Costa, Solano, Napa and Marin). All its meetings are open to the public and video-recordings are archived online. Revenue has been invested in a training center for green jobs, building local solar farms, energy efficiency programs, solar rebates for low-income residents and an extra benefit to customers with their own rooftop solar. In sum, MCE is both adding more clean energy to the grid and contributing to the local economy.
Maybe the most important reason to care about the cleaner energy option is because it helps us to reduce greenhouse gases. The basic MCE plan that everyone gets is the Light Green plan, but for an extra 1 cent per kilowatt-hour, anyone can “opt up” to MCE’s Deep Green plan, which provides electricity from 100 percent renewable sources. This costs the average homeowner $4.50/month but will vary depending on how much electricity you use.
Importantly, a person can “opt down” to Light Green (50 percent renewable) anytime one wants – maybe if one’s finances become tight. A Deep Green home reduces by over 1 metric ton the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere each year; that’s equivalent to driving 2,437 fewer miles using gasoline. The impact is even more impressive for those if us in Rossmoor who have all-electric manors.
But that’s just one home. A city council can vote to opt up its municipal accounts from 50 percent to 100 percent clean energy. It sets an important example for residents; in fact, when other cities have opted up their municipal accounts, the number of residents who do the same doubles within a few months, on average. It’s called the multiplier effect. Every city in the MCE service area opted up their municipal accounts last year, except Walnut Creek. Tsk. Tsk. And the statistics correlate.
Jenna Famular, MCE’s community development manager, showed a chart during Earth Awareness Week that revealed Larkspur had the most number of residents who had opted up, over 8 percent higher than any other city. Sadly, Walnut Creek is one of the lowest in the region at 1.3 percent. Our neighbor, Lafayette, with whom Walnut Creek City Council sometimes tries to compete in “greenness,” has 3.6 percent residents who are Deep Green customers. But behold! We in Rossmoor have 2.3 percent of our residents who have opted up to 100 percent clean energy. We are setting an example to others in our city. This is where you can help.
Request the Walnut Creek City Council to opt up its municipal accounts. This month, our city council will vote on a budget that could include opting up its municipal accounts. There’s a surplus on the city’s coffers that will more than cover this. It’s a small item for a city with a total budget of over $110,000,000. Write a letter to the city clerk at: email@example.com and ask it to be distributed to all the council members.
UPDATE: On May 15, 2018, the Walnut Creek City Council voted unanimously to opt up all the municipal accounts to 100% renewable energy!
The right thing to do
In addition to the multiplier effect, the city has made a promise to us. In its 2012 climate action plan (CAP), one of several environmental goals the council set was to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Opting up is the most cost-effective method to city can use to reach their goal for 2020. Furthermore, every year the city delays, increases the pollution. All these are the reasons every other city in MCE’s territory has opted up. We just celebrated Earth Day – it’s the right thing to do.
In addition, you don’t have to be a Sustainable Rossmoor member to join a delegation to appear at the council meeting in person. Contact me below to join a carpool.
What else can you do? Opt up to the Deep Green plan if you can afford it, even for a few months and join the Sustainable Rossmoor Living Lightly team: http://mcecleanenergy.org/livinglightly. Again, you don’t need to be a Sustainable Rossmoor member. Take a look at the website and see how we lead the region. This website allows you to click on “Enroll in Deep Green.” Scroll down to join the Sustainable Rossmoor Living Lightly team even if you opted up sometime ago – you too can join the team. Or call: 1-888-632-3674. This gives us more than bragging rights – it makes our air cleaner. It’s one simple way to reduce pollution, and reduce our health risks and those of our children and grandchildren.
This article first appeared in the May 9, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Carol Weed can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org