The end of each calendar year offers an opportunity to sit
back and reflect on the goals reached over the past 12 months and to look
forward to a new year of possibilities and challenges.
At Valley Clean Energy — your local not-for-profit
electricity provider— we’re working hard to fulfill our mission to deliver
clean electricity, energy product choice and greenhouse gas emission
reductions, all with local control at competitive prices.
Since June 2018, we’ve been serving 55,000 customers in the
cities of Woodland and Davis plus the unincorporated area of Yolo County. That
number grew when the city of Winters became an official member of VCE this
Thanks to the creativity and dedication of our professional
staff, and the visionary leadership of my colleagues on the board, the past
year has been jam-packed with accomplishments. Here’s a brief review:
An audit of our first year of electricity purchases reveals that we have fulfilled
our promise to buy the cleanest, greenest power we could afford for our
customers. In fact, we exceeded our own expectations!
While we pledged a minimum of 42 percent renewable energy, we found that our portfolio actually contained 48 percent renewable energy, compared to 39 percent for PG&E. Furthermore, a growing number of VCE customers are “opting up” for our UltraGreen 100 percent renewable portfolio, for an additional cost of only 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
*Early loan payback:
Gaining approval for a $500,000 start-up loan from each of our jurisdictions — Yolo
County and the cities of Davis and Woodland — was quite a victory for VCE,
allowing us to launch in June 2018. The only thing better than landing those
critical loans has been our ability to pay them back early; that’s exactly what
we accomplished this past October.
It is with tremendous pride that our board has repaid this
$1.5 million investment far ahead of schedule, particularly since VCE has not
experienced smooth sailing every step of the way with state regulatory actions
having financial impacts that CCA’s like VCE have had to absorb. However, our
board continues to make wise decisions that represent the best interests of our
customers while helping us to meet our environmental sustainability goals even
*Welcome, solar customers:
We’re thrilled to begin enrolling our legacy solar customers — those who
installed their solar systems prior to VCE’s launch — beginning in January.
Solar customers (both residential and commercial) have already demonstrated a
financial commitment to renewable energy, and it will be terrific to have them
in the VCE fold. We appreciate their patience as we have delayed their
enrollment while we worked through some unforeseen program and budgetary
If you own solar panels, you’ll be automatically enrolled in
VCE’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program during your true-up month in 2020. And
here’s one exciting difference between our solar program and PG&E’s: VCE
will pay you one cent more per kWh for the excess power you generate.
*Customer dividend program: This program, which launches in 2020, is designed to reward our customers for their loyalty and support and to share VCE’s positive financial performance with customers.
A dividend will be credited to residential customers once
per year (on their October bill) and to commercial customers twice per year (on
their April and October bills), after specific financial targets are met.
These dividends are among the many ways in which VCE gives
back to its local communities.
*Bid for PG&E assets: On Oct. 18, VCE offered PG&E $300 million to purchase its physical assets — poles, lines and, other infrastructure — in Yolo County. The board sees PG&E’s bankruptcy filing as a unique opportunity to take over these assets and rebuild a safer more stable, reliable, and cost-effective electric utility in our service area.
We are among numerous communities throughout the utility’s
Northern California territory to consider taking control of our electric
systems after PG&E shut off power to millions of customers this fall —
including many in Yolo County — to avoid the risk that high winds would damage
its equipment and spark wildfires.
While our offer was initially rejected, a final decision
could be made by the court overseeing PG&E’s bankruptcy rather than by the
management of the San Francisco-based utility.
*Winters joins VCE:
Our neighbor to the west is the fourth local jurisdiction to join VCE, with the
decision made official this month by the VCE board. Adding Winters to our
service territory further strengthens our locally controlled power agency.
The West Sacramento City Council also has voted to join VCE
as an associate member, giving that city a seat at the table as discussions
continue concerning PG&E’s future.
On behalf of the board and staff of Valley Clean Energy, I
wish you all happy holidays as we look ahead to an exciting new year. As
always, if you have any questions about your local electricity provider, please
visit our website at valleycleanenergy.org,
email us at email@example.com,
stop by our administrative office at 604 Second St. in downtown Davis or call
us at 530-446-2750.
—Tom Stallard serves
on the Valley Clean Energy board of directors (chair in 2019) and is a member
of the Woodland City Council.