San Ramon Valley workshop set on community choice energy

Officials: Program goals include local control, more options, reduced costs

Local government officials in the San Ramon Valley are hosting a public workshop this week to receive feedback from residents, business and community groups about the possibility of some Contra Costa County communities joining together to purchase energy for local consumers.

Through a community choice energy program, participating cities and the county could set up a nonprofit joint powers authority (JPA) to purchase electricity from sources other than PG&E, including more renewable options, and then to sell it back to consumers in their areas.

The goals of the program would include gaining local control, expanding consumer choices and reducing consumer costs for electricity generation, according to San Ramon Valley officials.

The town of Danville, city of San Ramon and Contra Costa County, along with 12 other cities in the county, commissioned a technical study from a consultant firm to outline how a local energy program would work. The five county cities not participating are El Cerrito, Lafayette, Richmond, San Pablo and Walnut Creek.

The draft study was released publicly on Dec. 1, and officials are in the process of obtaining citizen feedback before the public comment period closes Jan. 31.

Danville, San Ramon and county officials are hosting a joint workshop this Thursday (Jan. 26) from 6-8 p.m. at the San Ramon Valley Veterans Memorial Building (115 E. Prospect Ave. in downtown Danville) to hear from stakeholders about the draft study and a potential community energy program.

The study describes three general options: the county and cities form a program together, each city and the county enters an existing program on an individual basis or they could all continue getting electricity from PG&E.

The technical study is expected to be finalized next month, and the relevant town and city councils and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors could make a decision on possibly implementing one of the options by mid-2017, officials said.

For more information on the draft study, visit the county website.


5 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:58 am

Hello Neighbors,

I enrolled in a similar program through MCE for my home in Napa, 100% of my electrical is offset by solar projects in the area. Currently the cost is less than PG&E's generation cost. I'm looking forward to having a similar option in San Ramon.

7 people like this
Posted by Nebuchadnezzar
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm

I will be better able assess the pros and cons once the numbers are in, but I can't help but wonder if this another way of creating yet another government agency funded by our utility users tax, and other taxes and assessments. Do we need a jpa paying high salaries to unelected individuals under the guise of helping citizens with "choice" and "cost" control I wonder? These entities before long tend to have a bond measure on the ballot for this or that.

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Danville
on Jan 23, 2017 at 7:37 am

I've looked thru the material and some of the underlying cost and economic assumptions are very questionable. One in particular is the assumption of fixed energy costs from 3rd party energy providers. The basic plan is to fund a large solar farm along the northern delta shoreline in the county to provide much of the JPA power needs. However solar doesn't woirk except when it's sunny. So the JPA would have to purchase energy when solar isn't generating. And with the amount of solar power growing, the costs for energy are shifting so that the most expensive energy cost is from 4P-10P which is the energy the JPA will have to purchase.
Also, PG&E doesn't go away - they still own the transmission system that gets the energy to your door. And they also plan to change how they charge to deliver that energy to your door.
And of course there is a new JPA that needs to be staffed, including people to maintain and operate the solar farm.

3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 23, 2017 at 8:51 am

From the article above:
"The goals of the program would include gaining local control, expanding consumer choices and reducing consumer costs for electricity generation, according to San Ramon Valley officials."
Not to mention, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, sounds like a win-win.

1 person likes this
Posted by Sam
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 24, 2017 at 8:44 am

San Ramon doesn't have a utility user tax. All of these programs have an opt out feature so you can buy you power from PG&E. And Everyone knows that PG&E is a wonderful company with a Very lean management and no bureaucracy.

You will have a choice in this program.

1 person likes this
Posted by Lee
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 26, 2017 at 2:22 pm

BTW - The JPA is a little different from PG&E - actually alot different. It has no shareholders so no dividends, since it is a government entity it pays no taxes and all of the JPA Board members are accountable to the public since they are elected by their communities. What influence do you have over the PG&E Board?

Not corporate taxes, no dividends and you have a say who sits on the board. Is that better or worse than PG&E?

1 person likes this
Posted by LC
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I went to the workshop last night and was pleased to hear that Community Choice Energy programs have been successfully launched in San Mateo, Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma. Customers have been very happy--they have lower energy bills and more choice about where their energy comes from. Alameda County, Santa Clara County and now we in Contra Costa County will soon have the chance to participate in community choice energy.
Fewer greenhouse gas emissions combined with lower energy bills: win-win!!

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