A Reflection on High Summer Utility Bills

It’s been a long hot summer, but those cool autumn days aren’t too far off…
And thanks to Valley Clean Energy, local electricity customers are not paying any more to run their air-conditioners than they would have paid under PG&E. At the same time, they are reaping the environmental benefits of a greener energy portfolio.

Community choice programs like VCE can keep their rates competitive by buying electricity through a process that encourages private energy companies to compete to provide clean, renewable power.

Partnering with SMUD, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, also keeps VCE’s rates in line with PG&E’s. SMUD has been doing the kind of work VCE requires for more than 70 years. It has the operational and technical expertise to offer VCE flexible, efficient solutions that will help it be successful over the long term.

Recent frustration over soaring summer energy bills has provided VCE an opportunity to remind its customers that the local utility may cost the same as PG&E but it delivers so much more:

  • Local control: VCE is governed by a six-member board made up of elected officials from the jurisdictions it serves — the cities of Woodland and Davis and the unincorporated area of Yolo County. The board and VCE’s all-volunteer Community Advisory Committee hold their monthly meetings in public, alternating between Davis and Woodland. Members of the public are always welcome.
  • Customer dividends: With no shareholder investors expecting dividends, VCE can “invest” in its customers by rewarding them for their loyalty and support. If VCE does well and meets its financial targets, our customers do well. Dividends will be credited to residential customers on their October bill and to non-residential customers on their October and April bills. The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020.
  • Community investments: VCE and its local partners won a $2.9 million grant last fall from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to install up to 60 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the region. The grant also provides for up to 10 mobile EV chargers and an electric bus serving the community.
  • Going green: VCE’s standard electricity service option is 42 percent renewable and 75 percent carbon-free. It is cost-competitive with PG&E’s standard product, which is 33 percent renewable. Our goal is to eventually increase the percentage of renewable energy in our standard service option.
  • Going greener: VCE customers also have the ability to opt up to the UltraGreen premium service, which is both 100 percent renewable and 100 percent carbon-free. Generated from completely renewable sources including solar and wind energy, UltraGreen costs 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour more than the standard service, so the additional cost typically ranges from $7 to $10 per month, depending on how much electricity is used.

Through Valley Clean Energy, we’re able to take giant steps toward a carbon-free future by purchasing our electric power from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass, bio-waste, geothermal and small hydro projects.

Thanks to Valley Clean Energy, our region’s electricity customers are moving in the right direction.

Tom Stallard, a member of the Woodland City Council, chairs the Valley Clean Energy board of directors. For more information about VCE, visit www.valleycleanenergy.org.