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Silicon Valley board votes to file community choice plan with Calif. PUC

TheSilicon Valley Clean Energy Authority's board of directors unanimously approveda plan to offer 100% carbon free electricity when it begins operation in April2017. The board on July 13 agreed to file the with the California PublicUtilities Commission, which has 90 days to complete a review and certify theplan, according to the board's agenda package.

TheSVCE is a newly formedjoint powers agency of 12 local governments in Santa Clara County. SVCE CEO TomHabashi called the decision a "bold and decisive step toward a greenerfuture for Silicon Valley."

Theboard vowed it will bring residents and businesses 100% carbon free electricityat lower costs than native utility PacificGas and Electric Co., which provides far less clean power.

"Offering100% carbon free electricity at lower rates is a game-changer, fulfilling ourvision to end reliance on fossil fuels and bring new choice to all of uscurrently served by a monopoly provider," SVCE Board Chair Rod Sinks said ina news release issued following the board's meeting in San Jose, Calif.

SanJose is the largest city in the county and is exploring establishment of SanJose Clean Energy as its own community choice energy program, according to thecity's website. In September, the city will present a draft technical study tothe public and will present recommendations to the city council in December.

Residentsand businesses in the SVCE's territory will continue to receive a single bill,with distribution services still coming from PG&E. They also will get thebenefits of less expensive electricity powered by wind, water and solarsources, Sinks said. The SVCE board approved recommendations toguide negotiations with power suppliers over the next five years for carbonfree electricity.

Tostart, the plan stated, "In the third quarter of 2016, [SVCE] plans tosolicit proposals for shaped energy, renewable energy, carbon free energy,resource adequacy capacity, and scheduling coordinator services from a highlyqualified pool of suppliers."

Contractnegotiations would start immediately following proposal evaluation. Followingidentification of short-listed energy services provider candidates, the SVCEanticipates that final supplier selection would be made by the authority inlate 2016.

Manycommunity advocates supported the board's decision, the authority said, quotingCarbon Free Mountain View President Bruce Karney as an example.

Theinitial power supply mix will be 50% renewable power sources and 50% largehydroelectric projects, for a total of 100% carbon free electricity, theauthority said. The SVCE will also set aside 1% of its revenue to invest inlocal renewable energy projects and energy programs.

TheSVCE was established in March as a nonprofit public agency to provide powersupply at competitive rates to the cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos,Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Gilroy, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View,Saratoga and Sunnyvale, and the unincorporated portions of Santa Clara County.

Theplan, which includes such matters as organizational structure, funding,rate-setting and a description of third parties that will supply electricity,was developed based on a template used for the plans of other community choiceaggregation programs such as MarinClean Energy.

TheSVCE's proposed service area will include more than 459,000 adult residents. Anauthority-sponsored survey of 601 residents indicated only marginal awarenessamong the majority of what community choice aggregation is about, but 67% ofthe surveyed residents indicated an interest in renewable energy specialofferings.

Ifthe PUC grants the SVCE authority to serve, the customers of PG&E in SantaClara County and its communities would automatically be enrolled and would haveto opt out in order to stay with the PG&ECorp. subsidiary.

Thesurvey said 42% of those surveyed residents indicated that being automaticallyenrolled in SVCE's clean energy program could cause them to opt out, but mostof those respondents said they needed more information to make a decision. Only18% of the survey respondents said they were familiar with the term "communitychoice aggregation."

Still,the survey said, "Support for the SVCE CCE [community choice energy]program in concept is quite high, with about two-thirds of residents showinginterest even without detailed pricing or renewable energy content information."