Utility Energy Programs
PG&E is the main provider of gas and electric services to Northern California. PG&E current portfolio consists of an extensive hydroelectric system, one operating nuclear power plant, and two operating natural gas-fired power plants.
It offers the Solar Choice program for those customers who want the option to purchase up to 100% of electricity from a universal solar program generated within California, without needing to install private rooftop solar panels. These programs are a choice if you want to lower your environmental footprint and promote renewable power generation.
Solar panel owners are not eligible, since the purpose of the program is to service customers whose location would not handle solar panels (almost half of residential and commercial rooftops are unsuitable for solar because of structural, shading or ownership issues).You can choose an enrollment level at 50 percent or 100 percent of your usage. When you enroll, PG&E will purchase additional, new solar resources to meet your electricity needs as well as those of other participating customers. Your electricity use will be matched with 100% clean, renewable solar energy at your chosen enrollment level. Your monthly electric energy statement will include a charge for the solar power you are purchasing and related program charges, as well as a credit for the standard generation you are no longer purchasing.
The sun provides a virtually unlimited, clean, and free fuel at a price that never changes. Solar farms take advantage of that resource, with large-scale arrays of hundreds, thousands, or in some cases millions of photovoltaic (PV) panels. They operate at a utility scale like conventional power plants in the amount of electricity they produce, but dramatically differ in their emissions.
Solar farms can be found in deserts, on military bases, atop closed landfills, and even floating on reservoirs, deploying silicon panels to harvest the photons streaming to earth. Inside a panel’s hermetically sealed environment, photons energize electrons and create electrical current—from light to voltage, precisely as the name suggests.
Community Choice Aggregation
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) or Community Choice Energy (CCE), is a system adopted into law in California, which allows cities, counties, and some special districts, to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts on a community-wide basis, but allowing consumers not wishing to participate to opt out.
CCAs are local, not-for-profit, public agencies that take on the decision-making role about sources of energy for electricity generation. Once established, CCAs become the default service provider for the power mix delivered to customers. In a CCA service territory, the incumbent utility continues to own and maintain the transmission and distribution infrastructure, metering, and billing. In some states, CCAs aggregate regional energy demand and negotiate with competitive suppliers and developers, rather than the traditional utility business model based on monopolizing energy supply. In California, CCAs are by legal definition, not utilities, and are legally defined in California law as electric service providers.
CCAs in California focus on the rapid transition to highly renewable and/or greenhouse gas-free sources of electricity generation while keeping rates at or below what investor-owned utilities charge.
Placer County is in the process of creating a CCE. It will take about a year before the CCE is up and running. It requires approval by the California Public Utilities Commission. Once it is approved and self-financing (pay off debt to mpower), Grass Valley and Nevada City could pass an ordinance of the city council authorizing the implementation of a community choice aggregation program, approving the Placer County CCE joint powers agreement, and authorizing the city manager to execute the joint powers agreement with Placer County CCE.