Income-qualified Valley Clean Energy Customers May Benefit from California Electric Bicycle Incentive Program Coming Soon

Our region is a demonstrated leader in fostering bicycling as an alternative method of transportation. As the first city in the nation to legislate and standardize bike lanes, Davis is known as the “Bicycle Capital of America.” Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation in California. With the ability to help riders travel farther and faster with less effort, e-bikes are a great option for commuting, running errands, or just exploring the great outdoors. To help those living under 300% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL) enjoy the benefits of e-bikes, the state of California will introduce a new incentive program that offers rebates to those who qualify and purchase an eligible e-bike. 

What is the California e-bike incentive program?

The California Electric Bicycle Incentives program aims to make sustainable transportation more accessible to low-income residents and promote equity, while reducing carbon emissions and transportation costs. The program is expected to launch in late Q2 2023 and offer $1,000 for eligible electric bicycles, an additional $750 for electric cargo bicycles or adaptive/recumbent e-bikes. A smaller incentive of $250 will be available for people below 225% FPL. 

Electric bicycle prices range from $600 – $8,000 with an average cost being between $1,000 – $2,000. Higher end e-bikes typically provide more powerful motors or may include room for more than a single rider. When considering an e-bike as an alternative to cars, the cost is minimal. You will not only save on the cost of the vehicle, but the cost of gasoline compared to charging an e-bike can make a big difference for your wallet. The e-bike incentives will only further your savings.

What e-bikes are eligible for the rebate?

All e-bike classes will be eligible for the rebate: 

  • Class 1: Limited speed up to 20 mph, pedal assist only 
  • Class 2: Limited speed up to 20 mph, pedal assist and throttle 
  • Class 3: Maximum speed up to 28 mph, pedal assist only

How do I apply for the rebate?

The rebate is expected to launch in Q2 of 2023 and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds will be reserved for those who meet the priority requirements. 

Where can I learn more about e-bikes?

If you are new to e-bikes and want to learn more about them, there are a number of resources available. Cycling News has a great primer for beginners. The League of American Bicyclists also has a wealth of information on e-bikes, including a guide to e-bike laws and policies in all 50 states.

The California e-bike incentives program is a great opportunity for qualifying California residents. By taking advantage of this program, you can not only save money on your e-bike purchase, but also reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health by choosing a more sustainable mode of transportation. 
Follow updates from the California Bicycle Coalition as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rolls out this program.


By Jesse Loren, Winters City Council member and VCE Board member

Starting in January, Winters residents and businesses will take a giant step toward a more sustainable energy future as the community becomes a full-fledged member of the Valley Clean Energy Alliance. The City of Winters and Mayor Cowan and I have been representing Winters on the VCE Board for over a year and we are excited that our start date is getting closer! 

How does it work? VCE pools the electricity demands of our communities and purchases power with higher renewable and lower greenhouse gas content than is offered by PG&E. VCE customers pay exactly the same amount for this clean, low-carbon power as they would for traditional electricity provided by PG&E.  

Meanwhile, PG&E continues to deliver electricity to our homes and businesses, maintains the power lines, handles customer billing and responds to new service requests and emergencies. 

Founded in June 2018 by the cities of Davis and Woodland and the county of Yolo, the locally run electricity utility has been offering clean, green, renewable energy at competitive prices to its nearly 58,000 customers since then. As a not-for-profit agency, VCE re-invests its revenues right back into local communities, including ours. 

Come January, you’ll be automatically enrolled in VCE unless you choose to opt out and stay with PG&E for your electricity. However, if you do opt out, here’s what you’ll miss: 

  • Cleaner, less polluting electricity: In the past two years, VCE exceeded its targets for renewable energy and carbon-free power. 
  • Choice for everyone: A standard energy portfolio includes power that is 75% carbon-free and 45% renewable, while customers may opt up to an “ultra-green” portfolio that is 100% carbon-free and 100% renewable. Choosing the enhanced option costs just 1.5 cents more per kWh than the standard service. 
  • Fiscal responsibility: $1.5 million in start-up loans from the participating government agencies were paid back well ahead of schedule. Additionally, VCE has repaid more than $1.5 million in deferred payments to SMUD, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, for operating services provided to the nascent agency. 
  • Better solar benefits: VCE’s solar customers are paid 1 cent per kWh more than PG&E pays for any excess power they generate. 
  • Emission-free driving: A $2.9 million grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments is bringing an extensive electric vehicle charging network to Yolo County, including new charging stations at the Community Center and new stations at the new lot at First and Abbey.  
  • Local control: VCE is governed locally by elected officials from the four participating agencies who understand the community and work to provide benefits that align with community values. VCE’s directors are accountable to voters, not shareholders. I am one of two Winters City Council members who serve on the board. 
  • Re-investment and involvement in our communities: VCE has committed to renewable energy contracts close to home and is working to secure more. Furthermore, VCE is a good neighbor: The agency contributed $1,500 to the Greater Winters Fire Relief Fund; purchased and donated 500 reusable face masks to RISE Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves the Latinx community and Western Yolo County; and contributed $2,500 to the Yolo Food Bank at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Not-for-profit and for the people: VCE does not have shareholders, keeping the benefits focused on its customers. 

Have these wonderful new benefits come at a price for the city of Winters? Yes, a small one: We submitted a $25,000 membership fee to offset costs associated with joining the joint powers agency. However, according to VCE’s membership policy, that fee is due to be refunded upon enrollment of Winters customers in VCE in 2021. 

And make no mistake: This is not an experiment. With more than 20 operational programs already serving more than 10 million California customers, community choice energy agencies such as VCE are providing a clear path to a well-managed, economically beneficial, clean energy future. Dozens more of these agencies are in the planning stages throughout the state and the nation. 

It’s a terrific time for Winters to join the fold. Valley Clean Energy’s leaders have accomplished some remarkable achievements in just 2½ years of operation, and their plans for the future are even more ambitious. I can’t wait for Winters to have a voice in what’s to come!  


About VCE: Valley Clean Energy is a not-for-profit public agency formed to provide electrical generation service to customers in Woodland, Davis, Winters and the unincorporated areas of Yolo County. Its mission is to source cost-competitive clean electricity while providing product choice, price stability, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reductions and reinvestment in the communities it serves. For more information about VCE, visit or call 855-699-8232.  

In Celebration of VCE’s 2-year Anniversary

As Valley Clean Energy reaches its two-year anniversary, memories of my role in its formation keep popping into my head.

Way back in 2002, it was my job as a lobbyist representing a statewide association of cities to advocate on behalf of cities before the California Legislature. This included the legislation that became law and authorizes cities and counties to buy electricity on behalf of their residents and businesses. These are known as Community Choice Aggregation (or CCA) programs.

Little did I know that, 18 years later, this new law would blossom and flourish into 21 operating CCAs throughout California, successfully serving 10 million customers in more than 170 cities and counties.

More amazing to me is that the new law ultimately enabled my own city of Davis and my county, Yolo (along with Woodland), to form their own CCA — Valley Clean Energy. Frankly, this is a very humbling experience.

VCE reflects the best of local government — local control, transparency, community engagement and expert administration — to provide services to residents and businesses it serves. I’ve had a front-row seat in VCE’s formation and evolution, from my involvement in the legislation that authorized CCAs, to membership on the Davis Advisory Committee charged with evaluating whether Davis should form a CCA, and concluding with chairing the VCE Community Advisory Committee.

It’s been an honor to serve with so many talented and dedicated individuals on the Community Advisory Committee. Not only are they knowledgeable about energy and utility issues, they have their respective fingers on the pulses of their communities and offer thoughtful input to the VCE board and staff.

It is exciting to observe how VCE has changed the energy landscape in Yolo County. Yes, our rates are competitive with PG&E’s, and the amount of renewable energy VCE buys is higher than PG&E’s.

What truly sets VCE apart from PG&E, though, is what was originally envisioned 18 years ago in the authorizing legislation — local energy decision-making that’s accessible to all, combined with expert staff and community members dedicated to designing programs that reflect the needs of the communities they serve.

For example, an emphasis on local community economic development and local energy development is at the core of VCE. In May, the VCE board of directors approved renewal of a small contract to purchase electricity produced at the Indian Valley Hydro Power Facility, owned and operated by the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

And VCE recently approved a long-term power purchase agreement to buy 50 megawatts of renewable energy from a new solar project in the Central Valley. VCE is also negotiating to buy electricity from another new solar project; our involvement will help get both of these projects built.

Finally, in April, VCE issued a request for offers to purchase renewable energy from qualifying local projects, either here in Yolo County or from the six adjacent counties.

While all of these accomplishments are important, what truly delights me is how VCE engages with the communities it serves. Do you have a question about your bill or about how VCE’s rooftop solar program works? Would you care to comment about a proposed new program or policy or pose a question about VCE’s budget?

It is easy to connect with VCE — either drop by the VCE office (when that becomes feasible again), attend a live or virtual VCE board of directors or Community Advisory Committee meeting, or simply call or email your question at 855-699-8232 or

You can also stay informed about what’s going on by signing up for an email list at

VCE believes in meeting community members where they live — literally. Over the last two-plus years, I’ve enjoyed helping at the VCE booth at the Winters Carnitas Festival, the Woodland Honey Festival, and Capay Almond Festival (yes, lots of festivals here in Yolo County) and the Davis Farmers Market.

This entails more than just hanging up the VCE banner. These events offer opportunities to listen to and talk with residents to answer questions, hear their concerns and suggestions and trouble-shoot possible problems for VCE’s customers and family.

My friends know that I like to collect T-shirts, and the turquoise-green VCE T-shirt is one of my favorites. I’ve worn it while meeting camels in Mongolia, piranha fishing on the Amazon River and hiking at Machu Picchu. It is my way of staying connected even when I’m miles away in a different reality. But VCE is always close to my heart.

So, happy anniversary, Valley Clean Energy. Here’s to many more years of successfully serving our community.

— Yvonne Hunter is a longtime Davis resident and chair of the Valley Clean Energy Community Advisory Committee.

Yvonne Hunter is a Davis resident and Chair of the VCE Community Advisory Committee.


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 month.

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:

*Higher renewables: 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 sooner.

*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 constraints.

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, email us at, 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.

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

Community Choice Energy: One Part of the Solution to Climate Change

Climate change is here. The impacts are becoming ever more serious. Fossil fuel combustion is the main cause. We need to lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions rapidly. Community Choice Energy programs such as VCEA can be part of the solution.

Sea level rise, increased drought and floods, higher temperatures and more devastating wildfires are among a number of indicators that have been telling us for quite a number of years that climate change is impacting our lives, our health and our ecosystems. The recent fires in our state including the devastating Camp Fire of this past year, are just harbingers of what is to come.

Burning fossil fuels leads to CO2. This is bad for at least two reasons. First, physics tells us that the CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels traps heat in our atmosphere. The more CO2 that is produced, the more heat is trapped. This trapped heat warms the air, the ocean and the land. This warming is termed the greenhouse gas effect, thus CO2 is termed a Greenhouse Gas (GHG). The ultimate result of burning fossil fuels is climate change.

Second, increased CO2, when it dissolves in water, leads to increased acidification in our oceans. This is a double whammy for ocean life as warm and higher acid conditions are not optimal for ocean ecosystem survival.

The science is clear, we need to lower GHG emissions and rapidly. To do this we need to pivot from fossil fuels to renewable, clean energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal. Recent studies including the IPCC report of September 2018, the 4th National Climate Assessment and the 4th
California Climate Change Assessment highlight the need for rapid decline in GHG emissions. The IPPC study warns that we have just 12 years to rapidly lower GHG emissions if we are going to avoid the truly catastrophic effects of climate change. We are in a “climate emergency”.

The need to rapidly reduce GHG emissions is a daunting task and one that will require leadership from the federal and state level as well as at the local level. CCAs offer the opportunity to be transformative in the energy they deliver their local customers. VCEA’s mission statement includes the phrase that they will deliver “cost-competitive clean energy”. At the moment the renewable content of the base electricity provided by VCEA is 42%, compared to 33% for base electricity supplied by PG&E. VCEA also offers an opt-up to electricity that is 100% renewable— a good option.

Climate change and the role that CCAs in general and VCEA in specific can play in helping to address it is the subject for much more than this introductory blog. Other blogs in the future, from me and other Community Advisory Committee (CAC) members, will delve into a variety of related topics. Be sure to see the initial blog from CAC Chair Gerry Braun and the short and long term vision statements posted here.

Christine K. Shewmaker, Ph.D. is a retired plant molecular biologist. She has been active in the climate and environmental arena for over a decade. Presently she is on the Board of Directors of Fossil Free California where she leads the legislative effort.

It’s Time for Smart Cities and Counties to Provide Smart Energy

Yolo County, Davis and Woodland have taken an important first step by creating Valley Clean Energy. VCE has a legislatively mandated responsibility to buy and resell wholesale electricity. It is importing higher-renewable-content electricity for the communities it serves at costs competitive with PG&E’s electricity imports.

It has an opportunity to do more, i.e., bring clean local energy resources on stream, strengthening local economies in the process. This will require keeping rates competitive with PG&E’s and having money left over to source more clean electricity locally.

That’s not all. Regardless of what VCE does, the electricity sector will be undergoing profound changes in the next decades. Local energy systems will be much smarter and more completely integrated with building energy and local transportation infrastructure.

VCE hopes to guide its customers and communities through a process that results in greatly increased local energy resilience and much greater local energy self-reliance. This will take innovative local programs, innovative rate-setting, innovative procurement processes plus deep engagement with customers, communities, UC Davis, PG&E, state agencies, etc.

VCE can carve out a role that facilitates collaboration and local integration. This will require visionary leadership. The VCE Community Advisory Committee is committed to support such leadership in every way possible.

Via brief blogs, our members will be explaining the individual elements of VCE’s long-term vision — what’s at stake and what it will take to get there.

We look forward to rich conversations with many of you.

Gerry Braun Chair, Valley Clean Energy Community Advisory Committee

Gerald Braun is a utility and solar industry veteran and founding director of federal, state, utility and university-based renewable energy RD&D programs. He founded and manages IRESN, Inc., a registered nonprofit business league focused on local energy integration and collaboration in the U.S.

VCEA Vision – Near Term*

The near-term vision for VCEA is to provide electricity users with greater choice over the sources and prices of the electricity they use, by:

  • Offering basic electricity content, at a rate competitive with PG&E;
  • Developing and offering additional low-carbon or local generation options at modest price premiums;
  • Establishing an energy planning framework for developing local energy efficiency programs and local energy resources and infrastructure; and
  • Accomplishing the goals enumerated above while accumulating reserve funds for future VCEA energy programs and mitigation of future energy costs and reisks.

*Effective October, 2017; recommended by VCEA’s Community Advisory Committee and Approved by VCEA’s Board of Directors

VCEA Vision – Long Term

The future vision for VCEA is to continuously improve the electricity choices available to VCEA customers, while expanding local energy-related economic opportunities, by:

  • Causing the deployment of new renewable and low carbon energy sources;
  • Evaluating and adopting best practices for planning and operational management;
  • Substantially increasing the renewable electricity content of basic electricity service, with the ultimate goal of achieving zero carbon emissions electricity production and storage;
  • Developing and managing programs for energy resources to increase localized investment, employment, innovation and resilience;
  • Accelerating deployment of local energy resources to increase localized investment, employment, innovation and resilience;
  • Working to achieve the climate action goals of participating jurisdictions to shape a sustainable energy future; and
  • Saving money for ratepayers on their energy bills.
  • Remaining open to the participation of additional jurisdictions.

A New Year

A new year offers a clean slate — a chance to celebrate achievements, assess the challenges of the past and start the new year with fresh energy.

Our biggest achievement in 2018 was the launch of Valley Clean Energy (VCE), our local public electricity program. With years of planning and lots of community support, we officially started serving the cities of Woodland and Davis and unincorporated Yolo County last June. Over the last 6 months VCE has been providing greener energy, customer choice, local control and reinvestment in the community.)

VCE’s standard portfolio of electricity includes 42 percent renewable energy, compared to 33 percent provided by PG&E. This allows VCE customers to help our region and our state take a big step toward changing our fossil fuel-based economy.

Another notable achievement in 2018 was the VCE partnership with Davis, Woodland and Yolo County to apply for a $2.9 million grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), which we ultimately received. The grant will provide dozens of new, publicly available electric vehicle chargers and lay the foundation for electric vehicle charging and lower carbon transportation options in the region.

Although 2018 was a banner year for the effort to bring local energy control to Yolo County, we also faced significant headwinds from State regulators. Due to decisions by the California Public Utilities Commission that favored investor owned utilities like PG&E, and requirements from the California Energy Commission, VCE took a $4.7 million hit to our young program’s budget, leaving us with many difficult choices — one of which was the decision to delay the enrollment of existing solar customers.

Since both of us are solar customers, we were disappointed that we could not sign up right away for the local energy program we help run. But as board members we understand that this delay is simply a bump in the road on a long journey toward completely renewable, more affordable electricity. We also understand why some folks may be unhappy about the delay of enrolling solar customers, but the VCE board’s difficult decision was made with the long-term good of the program in mind.

Despite these challenges we are reminded that our communities launched Valley Clean Energy last summer to bring cleaner energy at competitive rates to local residents and businesses while reinvesting earnings into our economy by creating local green energy programs and projects.

We have been successful in taking the important first steps toward these goals because VCE is accountable to the communities it serves, not to shareholders. VCE offers choice, local governance and transparency — everything local energy customers have sought for years.

One of the tangible, immediate impacts of our local energy program is the fact that VCE customers are reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by automatically receiving a higher percentage of renewable electricity than that provided by PG&E, and they can up the ante by choosing that 100% of their power come from renewables for a small premium. We are proud that VCE customers are each doing their small part to help California avoid the growing consequences of climate change like the tragic wildfires of 2017 and 2018 that devastated our sister communities in northern California.

VCE’s customers are joined in these efforts by the 18 other CCE programs which are already serving more than 8 million customers in more than 160 communities across California. Dozens more communities are recognizing the benefits of taking local control of their energy futures and are lining up to form or join CCE programs. We encourage and welcome them to this energy renaissance that is challenging the old ideas that clearly no longer serve the best interests of our communities.

With Valley Clean Energy, we’ve taken a big step toward a more sustainable future. As solar customers ourselves, we’re willing to wait another year to join the program, knowing we’re already doing our part for renewable energy.

Because VCE is in the business of delivering value to the customers and communities we serve instead of shareholders and Wall Street, we have the advantage of being able to take the long view. As we reflect on 2018 we are reminded that the success of our community choice energy program is our higher priority because it is poised to deliver decades of value to our communities.

Tom Stallard is a Woodland City Council member and board chair of Valley Clean Energy. Don Saylor is a Yolo County supervisor and a member of the VCE board. To learn more about Valley Clean Energy, visit or email

PG&E Exit Fees

In a disappointing decision, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently voted to approve increases to the “exit fees” charged to Valley Clean Energy (VCE) customers by PG&E. Valley Clean Energy is our official locally governed electricity provider, bringing cleaner energy at competitive rates to Davis, Woodland, and unincorporated Yolo County. It began serving 55,000 customer accounts this past June.

The decision by the CPUC to raise the exit fee affects all 19 community choice aggregation (CCA) programs in the state, including VCE.)

The exit fee is called the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment, and if you are a VCE customer, you will see it on your PG&E bill. This fee is charged by each of the utilities to all CCA customers to compensate for electricity generation they built or contracted for in past years.

Valley Clean Energy believes a reasonable exit fee is fair as long as these costs are shared equitably by all PG&E and CCA generation customers. Unfortunately, we don’t find this recent ruling by the CPUC to be fair. It over-compensates PG&E for past investments and leaves out reasonable cost-control measures that would hold the utility accountable for its past business decisions. Not only did the CPUC allow the utilities to include these costs in the exit fee, they did so before even considering whether they were reasonable. What is even more puzzling is why the CPUC took this action against the advice of their own expert Administrative Law Judge who had studied the issue for a year and held extensive hearings where evidence was provided by all sides—including representatives for VCE.

The end result of the CPUC ruling is an exit fee formula that will increase the amount of money PG&E will get from CCA customers by tens of millions of dollars in 2019 alone. The scale of the new fees and the lack of effort by the CPUC to mitigate costs mean that CCAs are facing significant financial challenges—with parallel threats to California’s renewable energy goals— despite having lower overhead costs than the investor owned utilities.

Valley Clean Energy’s share of the additional annual exit fee costs in 2019 are about $3.5 million dollars. This financial hit has forced your VCE Board of Directors to make some challenging decisions to help manage program costs wisely while meeting VCE’s long-term goals of service to the communities it serves. Those difficult decisions include staffing cost reductions, delaying enrollment of solar customers, and adjusting electricity rates to be at parity with PG&E’s prices.

It’s disappointing to make these program adjustments so early in the game, but take heart — there are experienced industry organizations, lobbying groups, and 19 CCA programs across the state representing over 160 cities and counties that are fighting hard to reverse this decision. Should we succeed, VCE will act quickly to reinstate the customer advantages that were originally offered.

In the meantime, remember that VCE is a not-for-profit public energy program that has been created by our communities to benefit all of us. VCE, together with the other CCA programs operating successfully across the state of California, are already saving their customers millions of dollars a year, reducing greenhouse gas production by tens of millions of tons, and creating jobs as they contract for and build renewable energy facilities in California.

California CCA’s are buying and building renewable energy faster than any other type of electric provider in the State, but changing the status quo in a fossil fuel-based economy is a pretty big deal—nobody said it was going to be easy. And even though our growing pains have set in earlier than we would have liked, VCE’s dedication to comprehensive community benefits remains, including:

  • Local control: The VCE board — composed of elected officials from Davis, Yolo County and Woodland — make decisions with the benefit of their constituents in mind as opposed to Wall Street. We welcome your opinions at our public meetings. Consider joining us when you can.
  • Energy choice: VCE ends the electricity monopoly, offering a choice of electricitygeneration providers and an option to opt up to 100% renewable energy, or to opt out.
  • Sustainability: VCE provides higher levels of renewable energy. Our current portfolio is 42% renewable compared to 33% for PG&E. We will strive to go higher in the years ahead.
  • Reinvestment in the community: Net revenues will be reinvested in the community in the form of energy projects and programs, including local renewable generation, energy storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, and/or energy efficiency.
  • Competitive rates: We strive to be competitive with the electricity-generation rates offered by PG&E.

The latest update on PG&E’s “exit fee” will be discussed at Valley Clean Energy’s next Board meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. Unlike the investor owned utilities, our Board meetings are public – you’re welcome to attend.

Regular Board meetings are on the second Thursday of the month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The meeting location alternates between Davis City Hall and the Woodland City Council Chambers, 300 First St. in Woodland.

Please visit our website for additional information at