Frequently Asked Questions
Q1 What is Community Choice Energy (CCE)?
Community Choice Energy, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, or "CCA", allows local governments and some special districts to pool (or aggregate) their electricity load in order to purchase and/or develop power on behalf of the residents, businesses, and municipal accounts within their service territory. Established by law in eight states thus far, CCE is an energy supply model that works in partnership with the region’s existing utility, Pacific Gas &Electric, which continues to deliver power, maintain the grid, provide consolidated billing and other customer services.
Q2 Why is the City of Los Banos Interested in CCE?
Key reasons for the City’s interest in CCE in partnership with Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) includes:
1) Lower electric rates for residential and business customers
2) Achievement of local and regional carbon reduction targets
3) Access to the solar power generated by the Wright Solar Project
4) Access to local energy programs; and
5) Future economic development potential from additional clean power projects in the region.
Q3 What is Peninsula Clean Energy and How is It Governed?
Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) is a public, not-for-profit, community-led electricity provider that gives all electric customers (residential, commercial, and municipal) in their service territory the choice of having 50% to 100% of their electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources at cheaper rates. Peninsula Clean Energy procures the electricity and PG&E delivers it over their existing lines and wires. PG&E will continue to do the billing for all of these services.
Peninsula Clean Energy is governed by a Board of Directors composed of representatives from each of its member cities and the County of San Mateo. Peninsula Clean Energy is a California Joint Powers Agency (JPA), a local government structure that ensures public transparency and financial and legal firewalls to mitigate risk to its member agencies. The Board of Directors holds a monthly public meeting to discuss matters pertaining to the operation of Peninsula Clean Energy. All meetings are open to the public and comments are encouraged. Please visit www.peninsulacleanenergy.com.
Q4 How is the CCE funded? Are City Funds at Risk?
Peninsula Clean Energy, is funded by ratepayer revenues not taxpayer subsides. By joining Peninsula Clean Energy, a California Joint Powers Agency, City of Los Banos funds are not at risk. Peninsula Clean Energy is not seeking an initial financial contribution from Los Banos to join the Agency.
Q5 How Will It Work in Los Banos? Who Can Participate?
If the City Council votes to join Peninsula Clean Energy and enroll Los Banos customers in their CCE program, residents, municipal accounts and businesses will automatically begin receiving Peninsula Clean energy electric service starting in 2022. A representative from the Los Banos City Council will serve on the Peninsula Clean Energy Board of Directors starting in late 2020 and will be part of program integration in 2021. In order to participate, you must be a resident or business owner within the city limits of Los Banos.
Q6 What Energy Options Will Customers Have?
Peninsula Clean Energy produces both clean and renewable electricity on behalf of their customers. Each electricity product has a different percentage of carbon-free and renewable energy. ECOplus, which is the standard offer service, is at least 50% renewable and starting in 2021, will be 100% carbon-free. ECO 100, a voluntary “opt-up” product is 100% renewable and 100% carbon-free.
Q7 Are the Rates Really More Affordable? What About Rate Changes?
Peninsula Clean Energy offers cleaner, greener, and more sustainable energy products with rates that are lower than PG&E. Peninsula Clean Energy mirrors PG&E’s rates and then applies a 5% discount to the customer’s electric generation portion of the bill. Unlike PG&E, Peninsula Clean Energy does not have a profit motive nor does it pay shareholder dividends because, as a public agency, it doesn’t have shareholders. Generally, Peninsula Clean Energy makes rate changes annually in response to PG&E’s annual rate changes. The Peninsula Clean Energy Board approves any rate changes, and as a member of the Peninsula Clean Energy Board, Los Banos would be part of the rate setting and decision-making process.
Q8 What Local Energy Programs Will Be Available?
Peninsula Clean Energy is currently offering a number of programs, all of which are available to all current Peninsula Clean Energy jurisdictions, and will be available to Los Banos when the City joins. These include the following programs:
monetary incentives of up to $1000 for new and used electric vehicles
monetary incentives of up $4000 for used electric vehicles for income-qualified residents, plus assistance to access additional monetary incentives to further reduce the price of a used electric vehicle
monetary incentives of up to $800 for electric bikes for income qualified residents
monetary incentives to install electric vehicle charging stations at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, and other public locations
monetary incentives for low income home upgrades
monetary incentives for electric heat pump water heaters
technical assistance for jurisdictions to adopt multi-fuel or all-electric building codes for new construction
free portable batteries for low income medically vulnerable residents who have experienced power outages due to PG&E PSPS events
monetary incentives for homeowners to install solar + storage
incentive programs for solar+storage for municipal community resource centers and critical infrastructure
If Los Banos becomes a member of Peninsula Clean Energy, additional programs can be developed that meet specific needs in Los Banos, and which would also be available to all jurisdictions that are in Peninsula Clean Energy's service territory. Peninsula Clean Energy's strategic plan further targets 20% of all program funding for low-income and underserved communities.
Q9 Does the CCE Replace PG&E?
No. Peninsula Clean Energy works in partnership with PG&E. PG&E continues to provide all gas services, electric delivery, billing, and power line maintenance. Peninsula Clean Energy only replaces the electric generation services with 50-100% renewable energy at more affordable rates.
Q10 What Happens If the Power Goes Out? Who Do I Call?
Because PG&E continues to maintain its power lines and electric distribution system, you would call PG&E just as you do now.
Q11 Is There a Requirement to Participate?
No. You always have the power to choose! Any customer may opt out of participation at any time to return to PG&E bundled service. The choice is yours.
Q12 When and How Will Customers Be Notified?
60 days prior to launch, all residential and business accounts will receive at least two written notifications about pending enrollment with Peninsula Clean Energy. Two additional notices will be sent within 60 days post launch. Customers may opt out by US post, by phone or on the Peninsula Clean Energy website.
Q13 Is There a Cost To Opt-Out?
If a customer opts out after the first 60 days of service, the terms and conditions state that there is a fee of $5 for residential accounts and $25 for commercial accounts. The customer service representative has the ability to waive the fee if requested and appropriate. The terms and conditions of service can be found here: https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/energy-choices/.
Q14 Will CARE, FERA and Medical Baseline Rates Still Apply?
Yes. CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline are available to Peninsula Clean Energy customers as well as PG&E customers. Your discounts will remain in place, regardless of enrollment with Peninsula Clean Energy or PG&E. Customers enrolled in Peninsula Clean Energy continue to receive their CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline discount within their PG&E delivery charges; there is no need to re-apply with Peninsula Clean Energy. New CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline enrollments or renewals must still be done through PG&E’s customer service center or website. Note that customers enrolled in PG&E’s Medical Baseline Allowance program are not subject to the PCIA/ exit fee, providing additional savings for Peninsula Clean Energy customers on Medical Baseline.
Q15 What If I Already Have Solar on My Roof?
Through Peninsula Clean Energy’s Net Energy Metering program, residents and businesses with solar panels can sell their excess energy production back to Peninsula Clean Energy. Peninsula Clean Energy offers property owners fair market rates for their excess energy production, which are slightly more advantageous to the solar panel owner than PG&E’s NEM rates. Such customers would be automatically enrolled into Peninsula Clean Energy’s Net Metering Program and there would be no interruption to existing solar lease contracts if they are in place.