Other Voices: SVCE provides clean energy, customer savings

Editor’s note: Following is a rebuttal to last week’s “Other Voices” column, which questioned the benefits of Silicon Valley Clean Energy.

The mission of Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) is to provide clean electricity and innovative decarbonization programs that will bend the carbon curve downward and contribute to the health and wealth of our region. The original 12 cities that banded together to form SVCE did so to achieve two goals simultaneously: to offer our constituents competition in a marketplace that previously had none, and to procure and supply cleaner, greener power for our communities. Simply put, SVCE is the evolutionary outgrowth of market forces and customer wishes.

SVCE is a Community Choice Aggregation agency (CCA), which allows local governments and some special districts to pool their electricity load to purchase and/or develop power on behalf of their residents, businesses and municipal accounts. As a public agency, all net revenues are reinvested and returned to the community to keep rates low and promote clean energy programs. SVCE’s member jurisdictions include Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, Sunnyvale and unincorporated Santa Clara County. SVCE is guided by a board of directors comprising a representative from the governing body of each member community.

CCAs are an energy supply model that works in partnership with the region’s existing utility. Here in Silicon Valley, that company is PG&E. PG&E continues to deliver or transmit the power SVCE procures, and additionally it will continue to maintain the grid and provide consolidated billing and other customer services. We expect to work with PG&E and also continue to challenge it to the benefit of all in the marketplace.

CCAs like SVCE are in seven states across the U.S. In California alone, 13 CCAs are currently providing power to customers, and by the end of the year, at least three more CCAs will begin operations, serving more than 4.5 million customers in total. CCAs are not some wild experiment, but rather a giant shift in how business is done. They give consumers and municipalities local control, and here is something novel – the rate-setting process is discussed during open, public meetings with your locally elected directors representing your interests. Because of the desire to supply cleaner power, SVCE and our fellow CCAs are changing and inspiring investments in and development of additional renewable suppliers and sources, as well as the next logical component – power storage.

Last year, PG&E’s electric rates increased by an average of 9 percent and its added fees increased as well. In response, the SVCE board set rates to continue providing customers a 6 percent discount to generation rates compared with what they would pay if they were a bundled PG&E customer. In 2018, SVCE will save the average residential customer $40, adding back $20 million per year to the region’s economy, all while we continue buying and supplying power you can feel great about.

As the market changes and evolves, so will SVCE and our fellow players in the power market. We look forward to innovating, partnering and adapting to provide clean power and innovative decarbonization programs to all of our customers. As your locally elected representatives, we are proud to be part of this and confident SVCE improves the quality of life for all of us – whether you stay with SVCE or even choose to pay more and return to PG&E.

Courtenay C. Corrigan, Jeannie Bruins and Margaret Abe-Koga are the city council representatives for SVCE from Los Altos Hills, Los Altos and Mountain View, respectively.

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