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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.