Archive for June 2012

LIPA approves solar feed-in tariff program

Originally published: June 29, 2012 8:03 PM

By MARK HARRINGTON  mark.harrington@newsday.com

LIPA trustees this week gave formal approval to a new solar program that will encourage construction of commercial solar power plants around Long Island that will sell electricity back to the authority much the way local power plants do, but without the emissions.

Approval of the so-called solar feed-in tariff on Thursday starts the ball rolling for companies and investors to construct mid- to large-size solar farms on commercial and municipal rooftops and other open spaces beginning July 15, when LIPA begins accepting applications.

Several solar installers at a LIPA trustees meeting this week applauded the program, saying it would likely lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs and up to 50 megawatts of combustion-less power. The Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association called it a “substantial and positive” step to building a local renewable energy portfolio. A megawatt of solar energy produces enough electricity to power 125 homes.

The $11.5 million program, paid for by ratepayers at around 44 cents a month, allows companies to negotiate 20-year contracts to sell solar power to LIPA for 22 cents a kilowatt hour. The program is considered ideal for companies with large warehouse roofs, which can accommodate dozens of solar panels.

The program differs from LIPA’s traditional rebate program — which continues — that gives ratepayers refunds of around a third of the cost of solar systems. With a feed-in tariff, there’s no rebate; producers are paid only for the actual energy their systems produce.

While the new solar program has caught the interest of installers and commercial firms, Michael Deering, vice president of environmental affairs at LIPA, said much of the early interest in the program is coming from municipalities.

“I expect we’ll have a significant number of applications come in right out of the box,” he said.

Solar installations provide two benefits to LIPA: They produce peak power on the long, sunny days of summer when LIPA’s system hits its peak. And they are also dispersed around the region, helping to lower stress on the system by cutting the need to pipe plant power to far-flung places.

LIPA enters the peak summer season without one major power source: the 660-megawatt Neptune Cable. The $1.75 billion cable has been out of service since early June because of two related transformer failures. Michael Hervey, LIPA’s operating chief, said a spare transformer is in place and can be used if needed this summer.

The expansion of solar comes as LIPA continues to review around a dozen proposals for new power around Long Island, including new gas-fired plants in Kings Park, Shoreham and Yaphank, and potentially a new cable. LIPA is also renegotiating its power supply agreement with National Grid, which owns 17 former Lilco plants around Long Island, including large steam-generators in Northport, Island Park and Port Jefferson. LIPA this week said a new agreement with National Grid could give it the flexibility to upgrade the plants to new levels of efficiency.

Paul DeCotis, LIPA’s vice president of power markets, said LIPA is considering opening the bidding process for new power sources that are used primarily for peak power, and said solar peaking units could be among the power sources being considered.

 

Abound Solar to Suspend Operations, Will Seek Bankruptcy

Bloomberg News

Abound Solar Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that was awarded a $400 million U.S. loan guarantee, will suspend operations and file for bankruptcy because its panels were too expensive to compete.

Abound borrowed about $70 million against the guarantee, the Loveland, Colorado-based company said today in a statement. It plans to file for bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Delaware, next week.

The failure will follow that of Solyndra LLC, which shut down in August after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the same U.S. Energy Department program. Abound stopped production in February to focus on reducing costs after a global oversupply and increasing competition from China drove down the price of solar panels by half last year.

“Aggressive pricing actions from Chinese solar-panel companies have made it very difficult for an early stage startup company like Abound to scale in current market conditions,” the company said in the statement.

U.S. taxpayers may lose $40 million to $60 million on the loan after Abound’s assets are sold and the bankruptcy proceeding closes, Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said in a statement today.

“When the floor fell out on the price of solar panels, Abound’s product was no longer cost competitive,” LaVera said.

Bankruptcy Warning

Cliff Stearns, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel that has held several hearings and collected thousands of administration e-mails relating to Solyndra’s guarantee, said he didn’t think Abound’s closure warranted its own investigation.

“We know why they went bankrupt. We warned them they would go bankrupt,” Stearns, a Florida Republican, told reporters today. “The larger question is why the administration was pursuing a green-energy policy in which companies are going bankrupt and wasting taxpayer money.”

Stearns said his panel would probably hold a hearing on the guarantee program. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, continues to investigate the loan-guarantee program and still hasn’t received some requested documents from the Energy Department, said Jeffrey Solsby, a spokesman for Issa.

Abound was awarded the loan guarantee to build two factories to make thin-film panels using cadmium telluride. It completed one plant, in Longmont, Colorado, and never began construction on the second, which was planned for Tipton, Indiana. The company last received money from the Energy Department in August, before Solyndra’s collapse.

Economic Boost

Representative Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican, said he supported Abound because he thought the company would boost his state’s economy.

“We had a terrible economic problem. Plants were closing there in that area,” Burton told reporters in Capitol Hill today. “We thought this would be a great way to create jobs. If I had known that Abound, or Solyndra, had been in the fiscal situation it was in, I certainly would have never supported it.”

“This is not surprising at all,” Anthony Kim, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, said today in an interview. “They were trying to sell to a competitive, over- supplied market with limited production. That keeps costs high.”

$35 Billion

The Energy Department has provided almost $35 billion in loans, loan guarantees and conditional commitments to renewable- energy companies. About 35 percent of that is for solar- generating projects, which benefit from falling panel prices, compared with less than 4 percent for solar manufacturers, according to LaVera.

Besides Abound and Solyndra, two other solar manufacturers received loan guarantees. 1366 Technologies Inc. won approval to borrow as much as $150 million to produce polysilicon for solar panels and SoloPower Inc. was awarded a $197 million guarantee to make rolls of flexible solar panels using a copper-indium- gallium-selenide composite.

Neither 1366 nor SoloPower have drawn funding under the Energy Department program, LaVera said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Martin in New York at cmartin11@bloomberg.net; Jim Snyder in Washington at jsnyder24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

What Is Holding Back Solar Feed-In-Tariff Programs In The U.S. Market?

eed-in tariffs (FITs) have spurred the installation of more than three-quarters of global solar capacity. Germany’s FIT – perhaps one of the best-known programs – has led to the development of more than 50,000 MW of solar power and wind power domestically since its inception in 1990.

But despite this roaring success – which has been duplicated on smaller scales in several other countries – FITs continue to fail to make inroads in the U.S. This market instead relies on a patchwork of often inconsistent federal and state incentives in order to make solar power projects work.

Could FITs ever take off in the U.S.? Where have existing local and state FIT programs failed, and what glimmers of hope can they provide? A recent report by John Farrell, senior energy researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), recaps the frustrating path of the U.S.’ FIT programs and makes recommendations for successful future implementation.

FIT programs – generally branded as Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) contracts in the U.S. – currently exist in 14 states. However, installed capacity under all of the programs totals just 132 MW, according to the ILSR report.

Even if the U.S.’ CLEAN programs were built out to their caps, their installed capacity would represent 1% or less of each jurisdiction’s total electricity scales. In comparison, the cap-less German market already has allowed at least 20% electricity to come from FIT sources.

“Experience shows, not surprisingly, that the larger the scale of CLEAN programs, the greater the cost savings,” the report notes. “Germany has nearly a 50 percent price advantage in project-installation costs, due almost entirely to its large, streamlined market for solar.”

Another shortcoming of the U.S.’ CLEAN programs may be their emphasis on large-scale solar projects. Unlike in Germany, where individuals own 40% of the current renewable energy market, few U.S. programs allow participation by owners of residential PV arrays.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) program, for instance, leads the U.S. in terms of installed CLEAN capacity, with two-thirds of the country’s total, but almost all of the capacity was allocated to projects of at least 1 MW, according to the report. A single 30 MW array took up half of SMUD’s capacity.

The ILSR believes that small-scale, locally owned PV projects represent a more effective use of CLEAN programs.

“It is true that larger projects will have lower per-kilowatt costs, although the difference may be minimal,” the report explains. “But many small projects mean [that] many households (and businesses) begin to have an economic self-interest in supporting further renewable energy developments.”

Better administration
All renewable energy incentive programs are dynamic works in progress, and the German government’s ongoing management of its FIT program has not been without controversy. Last year’s boom in PV installations, followed by an announcement of drastic FIT rate cuts, resulted in political wrangling and negotiations that have yet to be resolved.

It is also worth noting that the U.S.’ electricity market and regulatory environment differ from Germany’s – thus making exact duplication of the latter’s FIT program difficult or impossible.

Nevertheless, the U.S. can learn a couple important FIT/CLEAN program management lessons from Germany, according to the ILSR report.

Price differentiation – i.e., providing different rates for different types of technology and project sizes – has allowed various types of renewable energy to grow simultaneously, in addition to allowing more homeowners and their small-scale projects to participate competitively.

At the same time, Germany’s FIT pricing is “all in,” attracting project investors without the need to add other subsidies and partners – and, thus, streamlining investment. U.S. CLEAN contracts, on the other hand, must be employed in tandem with federal and/or state incentives in order to create an attractive investment.

“The reliance on tax incentives constrains U.S. CLEAN programs,” the report says. “Federal tax incentives are subject to the vagaries of congressional politics. Federal tax incentives also increase complexity, as developers often partner with companies seeking tax write-offs, which, in turn, encourages larger projects and increases the overall cost of the project.”

A successful FIT/CLEAN program must also be priced properly. According to the report, the most important feature of Germany’s FIT program has been its “accelerated” price reductions in recent years. In response to market conditions, FIT rates now drop much more rapidly than in the past.

“American CLEAN programs must similarly adapt to a changing market,” the report notes, adding that currently, few U.S. programs offer any year-to-year price transparency, thus making project development more challenging.

With new CLEAN initiatives forthcoming in the U.S. – including programs from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Long Island Power Authority and the State of Rhode Island – now may be an ideal time for intensive evaluation and possible restructuring.

Despite its criticism, the ILSR is optimistic about the future of CLEAN programs in the U.S. and the role that they can play as solar power continues its downward cost trajectory.

“The CLEAN program makes an ideal transitional incentive, one that can be tailored to the needs and capacities of different states and can be phased out gradually as renewable energy costs decline,” the report says.

Photo: A residential PV installation in Germany. Photo credit: Conergy AG

Japan Approves Feed-in Tariffs

By Paul Gipe

Industry Minister Yukio Edano approved Japan’s feed-in tariffs for renewable energy on 18 June 2012. The tariffs are among the highest in the world.

In a related development that may be equally significant politically, long-time renewable energy advocate and anti-nuclear activist Tetsuya Iida announced he is running for governor of Yamaguchi prefecture as an independent candidate.

Some commentators suggest Iida has a good chance at upsetting the nominees of the two traditional parties. This would be a near historic development in Japan.

Iida, head of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, was instrumental in the formation of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation.

The Foundation is backed by Japan’s wealthiest person, cell phone tycoon Masayoshi Son. With Son’s powerful support the Foundation has been making waves in Japan since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and is largely responsible for the government’s decision to use feed-in tariffs to rapidly develop massive amounts of renewable energy needed to offset the country’s fleet of nuclear reactors.

Should Iida wind the gubernatorial race it could potentially tip the precarious political balance before the next national election, the first post Fukushima.

Iida is campaigning on closing Japan’s reactors and developing renewable energy instead.

Regardless of the outcome of Iida’s campaign, Japan is on track to launch its lucrative feed-in tariff program 1 July. As a result there are almost daily announcements of renewable industry players planning to open operations in Japan or forming joint ventures with existing Japanese companies.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the Japanese market in solar PV alone could be worth nearly $10 billion. Bloomberg predicts that Japan will overtake Italy as the world’s second largest market for solar PV.

Japanese tariffs for solar PV are among the highest, if not the highest, in the world. Some suggest that the solar PV tariffs and the tariffs for wind energy are in fact unnecessarily high.

Image: Approval stamp via Shutterstock

Content Technologies

The Net Energy Metering Cap Redefined: The Sun Is Shining on Rooftop Solar in California

by Nixon Peabody

On May 24, 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted in a 5-0 decision to greatly expand the net metering program for rooftop solar power generators. The net energy metering (NEM) program, first established in 1995,[1] allows homeowners and businesses that install rooftop solar panels to have a standard contract with their utility which gives them a monetary payout at the end of each year if their energy output exceeds their energy use. Under the net energy metering program, the electric utilities of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE), and San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E) are required to make net metering available to customer-generators on a first-come-first-served basis until the total generating capacity exceeds five-percent (5%) of the utility’s “aggregate customer peak demand.”[2]  The CPUC decision clarifies that the “aggregate customer peak demand” is the aggregation, or sum, of all individual customers’ peak demands, including their non-coincident peak demands. This will have the effect of significantly increasing the total generating capacity that is eligible for net metering, thus opening up greater opportunities for solar project developers, their customers and investors.

Prior to this decision, each utility used a different calculation method to determine where the 5% cut-off is. For example, PG&E divided the capacity of NEM-eligible generation by the highest-peak-demand-ever across its entire system, using a 60-minute interval. Other commenters, including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), argued that to calculate the aggregate customer peak demand, utilities should instead add together all of their individual customer peak demands regardless of when they occur in order to account for the non-coincident nature of customer peaks – i.e., to properly account for individual customers whose demand peaks at different times during the day. Under SEIA’s methodology, the “aggregate customer peak demand” would be the summation of each  individual customer’s peak demand, not the system-wide peak demand as a whole. The CPUC agreed with this interpretation, determining that the utilities shall use the highest recorded sum of non-coincident peak demands in a calendar year in calculating the 5% limit. The utilities argued that this decision will only serve to increase the rates to their customers, while generator-customers get to benefit without contributing their fair share toward the maintenance and improvement of the grid. Sempra Energy, SDG&E, PG&E, and SCE estimate that this will shift $1.3 billion a year in costs from solar to non-solar customers. However, SEIA and others hailed this decision as a “step forward,” predicting that the demand for NEM solar will more than double, increasing the demand for solar panels and availability of clean energy jobs. Already, California’s solar industry employs tens of thousands of workers. More importantly from an industry perspective, it was predicted that the net metering cap would have been reached in 2013 for PG&E, and shortly thereafter for the other utilities. This cap would have thus prevented the admission of new NEM customers, limiting the potential solar market as soon as next year. Instead, the CPUC “decision ensures that the solar industry will continue to thrive for years to come, and we are fully committed to developing a long-term solution that secures the future of the industry in California,” according to CPUC President Michael Peevey.

Going forward, a public workshop will be held in June to determine how best to estimate individual peak demands for those customers who do not yet have a smart meter. Further, the CPUC has ordered the preparation of a cost/benefit analysis for the NEM program to be completed on or before October 1, 2013. Lastly, cap or no cap, the NEM remains scheduled to end Jan. 1, 2015 unless new CPUC rules are issued.


  1. Senate Bill 656 (stats. 1995, ch. 369).
  2. Cal. Pub. Util. Code Section 2827(c)(1) (2012).

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact your regular Nixon Peabody LLP representative. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.

Community Solar Bill Would Bolster California’s Economy

S.B.843, legislation that would establish a framework for shared community renewable energy systems for California’s utility customers, would create thousands of local jobs and deliver significant economic benefits to the state, according to a new report from Vote Solar, a nonprofit grassroots organization.

Under the legislation, authored by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, customers in Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric’s service territories would be able to participate in community solar programs. The customers would receive credit on their utility bills for their portion of the clean power generated, as if those renewable energy systems were located at their own home or business.

According to Vote Solar, three out of four energy customers – including the state’s millions of renters – are currently unable to generate their own on-site power from solar, wind and other renewables. S.B.843 is designed to offer those customers a new path to clean energy and spur additional private sector investment and job growth in California’s clean energy sector.

Without requiring any public funding, the bill is expected to deploy 2 GW of new renewable energy capacity and approximately double the amount of rooftop solar currently installed in the state, Vote Solar adds.

“In very real terms, S.B.843 would be the job-creation equivalent of one of California’s largest employers, putting more people to work in the state than Cisco or Applied Materials,” says Hannah Masterjohn, policy advocate at Vote Solar and primary author of the report. “By simply enabling more Californians to invest in and receive the benefits of renewable energy systems, the state can unleash tremendous economic activity without using any precious state funds.”

In addition to creating at least 12,000 direct and induced local jobs, the bill would generate $230 million in tax revenues and provide $7.5 billion in total economic output, according to the report. This includes wages, salaries and revenues that can be reinvested into the state economy.

Advanced Batteries Market to 2020 – Demand for Electric Vehicles to Drive Growth, Asia Pacific to Remain the Major Producer

This report gives the revenue figures from 2005-2020 for the two technologies, their applications and regional market revenue for Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America for both lithium-ion and nickel- based batteries. It also details international regulations for advanced batteries. It provides an analysis of the global advanced batteries market and technology, and also examines the latest advancements in the technology, as well as the global advanced batteries market drivers and restraints.

The report covers advanced grid market competitive analysis and major deals analysis for the past year. It also provides international regulations and supply chain for advanced batteries market.

Scope

  • Historical and forecast figures of revenues for the global lithium-ion and nickel-based batteries.
  • The global advanced batteries market supply chain for lithium-ion and nickel-based batteries, including a mining overview for lithium and nickel metals.
  • The market applications for both lithium-ion and nickel-based batteries in the advanced batteries market.
  • A market overview and analysis of the market’s characteristics and technology, along with an overview of the latest technology advancements and the drivers and restraints of the market.
  • Regional outlooks for the advanced batteries market in Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America.
  • The global advanced batteries market’s industry regulations.
  • The global advanced batteries market’s competitive landscape.
  • A deals analysis of the mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, venture capitals, debt finances and equity offerings in the advanced batteries market.

Reasons to buy

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PG&E says it will meet California’s renewable energy goals

Utility releases resource plans

The California utility says it will comply with the state mandate for 33% renewables by 2020, but it says increased costs will start to be felt by consumers as the percentage increases.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) filed its renewable energy procurement plan for 2012 with the California Public Utilities Commission and said it will meet the requirement to source 33% of its power generation from clean sources and will also meet interim benchmarks up to that date.

California has an aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33% by 2020, along with the highest-in-the-nation 20% bundled RPS for power generation in the period from 2011-2013.

“In the plan, our energy forecasters project that we will achieve the requirement for an average of 20 % renewable power from 2011-2013, and 25% between 2014-2016. We also plan to continue purchasing competitively priced eligible renewable resources at a steady pace and in moderate amounts to meet our long-range needs to reach and maintain a 33% RPS requirement,” the company said.

Compliance will come at a cost, as the company expects the RPS will increase rates by 1-2% each year through 2020. The costs of the RPS program have only begun to appear on customer bills, as projects begin to come online in significant quantities.

That’s why PG&E said its 2012 RPS Solicitation will focus on cost-effective procurement of resources.

PG&E’s 2012 RPS procurement goal is to add to its RPS portfolio approximately 1,000 GWh per year of RPS-eligible deliveries, primarily through new long-term contracts.

“These volumes would be in addition to any volumes PG&E procures through the Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) Program, the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, the Qualifying Facility (QF) program, and the Photovoltaic (PV) Program,” the plan states.

While the plan says that PG&E has made progress, much uncertainty exists due to potential problems related to project development, operational risks inherent in the performance of intermittent resources and forecasts for retail sales.

“While PG&E is committed to meeting California’s RPS mandate, achieving these ambitious goals presents challenges. PG&E’s ability to comply with the RPS procurement requirement targets remains contingent on a number of factors outside of PG&E’s control, including the ability of independent power producers that have executed Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with PG&E to overcome development and transmission challenges,” the plan continues.

The anticipated costs of integrating the various RPS resource types need to be explicitly captured in the evaluation and selection process.

Since 2002, PG&E has signed more than 110 contracts for about 10,000 MW of renewable power

Germany sets new solar power record

Reuters) – German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.

The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.

They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.

“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”

The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.

Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.

Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

SUNSHINE

Some critics say renewable energy is not reliable enough nor is there enough capacity to power major industrial nations. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is eager to demonstrate that is indeed possible.

The jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity this year and bright sunshine nationwide.

The 22 GW per hour figure is up from about 14 GW per hour a year ago. Germany added 7.5 GW of installed power generation capacity in 2012 and 1.8 GW more in the first quarter for a total of 26 GW capacity.

“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” Allnoch said. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.”

Allnoch said the data is based on information from the European Energy Exchange (EEX), a bourse based in Leipzig.

The incentives through the state-mandated “feed-in-tariff” (FIT) are not without controversy, however. The FIT is the lifeblood for the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production.

Utilities and consumer groups have complained the FIT for solar power adds about 2 cents per kilowatt/hour on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world with consumers paying about 23 cents per kw/h.

German consumers pay about 4 billion euros ($5 billion) per year on top of their electricity bills for solar power, according to a 2012 report by the Environment Ministry.

Critics also complain growing levels of solar power make the national grid more less stable due to fluctuations in output.

Merkel’s centre-right government has tried to accelerate cuts in the FIT, which has fallen by between 15 and 30 percent per year, to nearly 40 percent this year to levels below 20 cents per kw/h. But the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has blocked it.

The value of Marin Clean Energy — choice, rates and local power

By Christopher Martin and Larry Bragman

MARIN CLEAN ENERGY is a public agency that helps electricity consumers take action to protect our planet by offering a way to dramatically reduce environmental impacts.

Any Marin electricity consumer can choose to have their energy needs met with one of MCE’s high value options — Light Green’s 50 percent renewable energy or Deep Green’s 100 percent renewable energy.

Customers may also choose to keep PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy service.

Due to state actions, historically, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) like PG&E, have been the default service provider with no consumer choice.

In 2002, after PG&E’s bankruptcy, state legislators passed California’s Community Choice Aggregation law, transferring the default status from the IOU to local CCA programs. State law mandates that all CCA programs operate as “opt out” programs.

MCE is California’s first operating CCA, although there are several others in development, and as a result, is in the process of becoming Marin’s default electricity provider.

This is ideal because it puts you, the consumer, in the driver’s seat. Participation with MCE is completely voluntary; consumers are mailed five separate notices so they may freely select their energy provider.

Ultimately, the choice is yours; consumers benefit by finally having a real and meaningful choice in their energy supply.

MCE is proud to offer a cleaner, more sustainable energy product at rates that are stable and affordable. MCE is committed to keeping costs as low as possible.

Beginning July 1 2012, it’s estimated that 50 percent renewable energy will cost an average household approximately $2.50 more per month as compared to PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy.

An average commercial customer can expect to pay approximately $3.31 less in a summer month and $4.67 more in a winter month for MCE’s 50 percent renewable energy.

A rate calculator will soon be available on MCE’s website for account-specific cost analysis.

MCE values public participation and transparency. Rates are developed, discussed, evaluated and approved locally at accessible public meetings. MCE invites you to attend and provide feedback.

Regularly scheduled meetings occur on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. (750 Lindaro St. in San Rafael).

As a local, community-based organization, MCE reinvests revenues to provide greater rate stability and greener energy to its ratepayers, rather than investor dividends.

A portion of the funds MCE customers spend on their electricity bill stay in Marin to fund programs such as:

• Installing electric vehicle-charging stations;

• Distributing $500 solar or energy efficiency rebates;

• Supporting local community events, youth sports and nonprofit organizations; and

• Developing local, renewable energy projects.

MCE recently signed a 20-year contract with the San Rafael Airport for 972 kilowatts of rooftop solar power, the largest solar project in Marin, and is developing plans for a 1 megawatt solar shade covered parking lot in Marin.

The airport project, which will cover 48 existing roofs, was designed locally by REP Energy and will be financed locally through the Bank of Marin. It will result in approximately 25 local jobs over a 3 month period and is scheduled to provide power for MCE customers by fall 2012.

The 1 megawatt solar project, which will cover about eight acres of already-existing parking lots providing shade for cars and electricity for MCE customers, is scheduled to be operational in March 2014.

MCE provides worthwhile value for a small premium. The increased renewable energy procured by MCE means less dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuels, a reduced carbon footprint, community support and development, and new green energy.

The choice, as always, remains with the consumer and that’s a win-win situation “… for us, our kids, our environment, and our future.