Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is Valley Clean Energy?
Valley Clean Energy (VCE) is bringing cleaner energy at competitive rates to residents and businesses in Woodland, Davis, and unincorporated Yolo County. As a locally based energy provider and PG&E alternative, VCE is accountable to the communities it serves, not to shareholders. VCE business – such as rate setting and approval of energy contracts – will be conducted at local, public meetings. Board members are elected officials from the City of Davis, City of Woodland and Yolo County.
How does it work?
Valley Clean Energy purchases power with higher renewable and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) content than is offered by PG&E. Other than receiving cleaner electricity at competitive prices, all other aspects of your electricity service remain the same. PG&E will continue to deliver the electricity from the grid to your home or business, maintain the power lines, read your meter, and send you a single, consolidated bill, as required by state law. If you want to stay with PG&E for your electricity, you can opt-out of Valley Clean Energy.
Does VCE fully replace PG&E?
No. VCE procures cleaner electricity for our customers, and PG&E delivers that electricity to your home or business. PG&E also continues to handle the billing, turn on and off power when you move, maintain the power lines, and resolve outages. Those who prefer to have PG&E continue to buy their electricity can choose that option.
Isn’t renewable power more expensive than electricity from traditional sources?
Not anymore. During the past 30 years the costs of fossil fuels have been rising, although natural gas and oil prices have come down recently. During the same time, the cost of renewable sources has dropped dramatically. In fact, in California, renewable energy is often cheaper than fossil fuel because after initial construction costs, wind and sun are free. And new resources such as tidal energy are now being developed to deliver energy at competitive rates.
Where will VCE be buying the clean electricity?
The majority of our energy will be produced from clean energy sources such as hydro, solar and wind. The power portfolio will be developed in early 2018. Our intent is to purchase as much electricity as possible from clean energy sources located in California at prices that remain competitive with PG&E.
Are other counties considering this?
Cities and counties throughout California are already moving forward with similar programs. There are currently eight operational CCEs in California, and that number is estimated to grow to 20 agencies by 2020, with a combined service area population of 18 million. According to a 2017 report from the Center for Climate Protection, CCEs will reduce at least 5 million metric tons GHG emissions cumulatively compared to the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs), and CCE customers will save $188 million more per year by the end of 2020 compared with what customers would have spent if they stayed with the incumbent utilities.
What type of local reinvestment has been done in other programs?
In the Bay Area, MCE Clean Energy has already invested over $500 million in California-based and local renewable energy projects that have created over 2,400 construction and vendor jobs, with more coming soon. Sonoma Clean Power has found that developing local renewable energy projects within Sonoma County will result in lower rates by 2020, compared with buying electricity elsewhere.
Will PG&E lose jobs as result of VCE and other similar programs?
The vast majority of PG&E employees provide transmission and distribution system maintenance and upgrades for electricity lines, billing and customer service—all of which PG&E will continue to provide. There have not been any noticeable job losses in communities that have a second electricity provider. In fact new jobs have been created constructing and operating local energy generation facilities.

 

Enrollment & Opt-Out

When and where is VCE service available?
VCE will be available to all PG&E customers in Woodland, Davis, and unincorporated Yolo County in mid- 2018 (targeted service date).
How do I enroll in VCE?
VCE will replace PG&E as the default electricity provider in Woodland, Davis, and the unincorporated areas of Yolo County. Anyone with a PG&E electric account in these areas will automatically be enrolled in VCE.
How do I opt out of VCE?
By law, customers may opt-out of VCE. This means that unless you opt out, you will automatically be enrolled in the program when service begins. You will receive a minimum of four notices to help you customize your service and provide directions on opting out, if you so choose.
Can I return to VCE if I opt out?
Customers who opt out within the first 60 days of VCE service may return to VCE at any time. Based on state law, customers who opt out after the first 60 days of service with VCE must wait one year before returning to VCE.

 

Rates & Billing

How can VCE offer competitive rates?
What makes Community Choice programs so powerful is that they support clean energy market competition by buying electricity through a competitive process that encourages private energy companies to compete to provide clean, renewable power at lower costs. This competition leads to lower costs that help Community Choice programs compete. Because there are no shareholder investors expecting dividends, Community Choice programs like VCE can reinvest net revenue and keep rates competitive.
How will VCE set its rates?
VCE electricity rates will be set through a transparent public process. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in publicly noticed hearings for each step of the process.
Will I still receive my CARE, FERA, or Medical Baseline discounts with VCE?
If you receive a low-income discount on your electricity bill through PG&E’s CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline Allowance programs, that discount will continue to apply as a VCE customer.
Do I get billed separately by VCE?
No, you will continue to receive one monthly bill from PG&E. The general look, appearance and setup of your bill will not change, although VCE electricity supply charges will replace PG&E electricity supply charges. There are three main components to your electricity service: generation, transmission and distribution. Currently, PG&E rolls all three components of your service into one line item called “Current Electric Charges” under the “Account Summary” on the first page of your bill. VCE will assume responsibility for the generation portion of your service. As a VCE customer, you will see separate lines under the “Account Summary” on your PG&E bill for VCE generation charges and PG&E’s electric delivery charges. You will also see a new page in each bill detailing your VCE electric generation charges.
What is the PCIA?
That’s the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment or PCIA, sometimes called an “exit fee.” The PCIA is intended to ensure that customers who switch to Valley Clean Energy pay for energy that was acquired by PG&E to serve them prior to their switch. It will appear on your bill as a separate line item. What’s most important to know is that VCE’s rates—even with the PCIA charge included—will still be competitive with PG&E’s rates.
Can PG&E raise delivery fees on VCE customers above those of non-VCE customers?
No. PG&E must provide the same transmission and distribution rates for all customers in their service area whether or not they receive electricity from PG&E or a CCA such as VCE.

 

Commercial, Agricultural & Industrial Customers

Will VCE have a separate rate structure for agricultural customers?
The VCE Board of Directors is in the process of setting its electricity rates in an open and public process. VCE is currently evaluating different options for the rate structures. Mirroring PG&E’s rate structure at launch would provide a direct comparison in evaluating the rates. VCE is committed to working with commercial, agricultural, and industrial customers to determine how the rates will work for their businesses. Business owners are encouraged to attend upcoming meetings to provide input on the potential rate structures.
What if I have multiple accounts?
Owners of multiple accounts can choose to opt up or opt out your individual accounts. Enrollment is by account, so you’ll be able to see all your accounts and decide what it best for each one.
What if I have existing direct access arrangements or special PG&E rates?
Any existing direct access arrangements or special PG&E rates will not be automatically enrolled in VCE’s program. However, those customer can choose to become VCE customers. Special direct access termination provisions may apply.

 

Solar & NEM Customers

I have solar panels on my property. Will I continue to receive the benefit of Net Energy Metering (NEM)? Will VCE offer something better?
Like similar existing Community Choice programs, VCE will look at ways to increase the value of local solar to the owners of solar PV systems. For example, both MCE Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power have successfully developed NEM programs that offer greater incentives than PG&E provides in order to encourage residents and businesses to install solar. VCE will examine the development of similar offerings.
What happens if I’m a Net Metering 1.0 customer and switch back to PG&E?
According to PG&E, changing service providers has no effect on rate schedules or NEM interconnection. This includes both opt-in and opt-out. Customers don’t reapply for interconnection when they change service providers, so they’re still under the same (1.0) interconnection agreement regardless of their electricity service provider.

 

Governance

What is Valley Clean Energy Alliance (VCEA)?
State law allows cities and counties to pool the electricity demand of their residents and businesses for the purpose of buying electricity on behalf of those customers. These programs are called Community Choice Aggregation programs.

VCEA, a joint powers authority formed in 2016, is a locally controlled, not for profit public agency covering the unincorporated areas of Yolo County and the Cities of Woodland and Davis. It provides residents and businesses in those communities with an option to have more of their electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources—such as solar and wind—at competitive rates.

When customers choose VCE, they help empower local control of electricity procurement decisions, reduce the carbon footprint associated with their electricity service, and help support growth of local renewables. Rather than paying profits to shareholders, VCE’s net revenue (after buying power and administrative expenses), can be used to help stabilize electricity prices, provide larger incentives for more solar installations, support energy efficiency programs, develop more local renewable energy sources in and near Yolo County, and invest in innovative clean technologies and energy-related job training—all while keeping electricity rates competitive with investor-owned utilities.

What is Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)?
In 2002, Assembly Bill 117 was enacted into law to establish Community Choice Aggregation opportunities in California. It allows a city or county (or groups of cities or counties) to become the default electric supplier in its jurisdiction(s). By doing so, it offers an opportunity for Californians to locally influence the sources of their electricity. Marin Clean Energy was California’s first Community Choice Aggregation program, followed by Sonoma Clean Power and subsequently Lancaster Choice Energy.
Is there a downside to Community Choice?
The primary risks to VCE are customer opt-outs, energy price fluctuations and changing state regulations. A successful Community Choice program requires that a significant majority of residential and commercial customers obtain their electricity from the program. This is one reason why Community Choice programs strive to maintain competitive pricing, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions than what you can get from the local utility. Community Choice programs, like VCE, also emphasize customer service, public engagement and transparency.

California’s energy markets have been stable for several years and prices for electricity from both renewable and conventional energy sources are relatively low. A diverse portfolio that includes a mix of long-term and short-term contracts and direct investments in power projects hedges risks.

A statewide association of CCA programs has been formed to represent the interests of CCA program providers and their customers on the regulatory side. It has been estimated that 50% of the electricity in California will be provided through Community Choice programs within the next decade. As more local programs are developed, they will have an even stronger presence in ongoing regulatory proceedings.

How would the program be regulated?
As discussed elsewhere, VCE is regulated by its Board of Directors. In addition, as required by state law, VCE submitted its Implementation Plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).The plan discusses rate design, how we will buy electricity, and how we will carry out all the functions the CPUC requires. Before launch, VCE will negotiate the purchase price of electricity on the open market and adhere to all CPUC rules and tariffs that apply to Community Choice Aggregation programs.

 

SMUD Agreement

What did the VCE Board decide regarding program launch and operation service providers?
At its August 31, 2017 meeting, the VCEA Board voted unanimously to contract with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), to provide technical and energy services, data management/call center services, wholesale energy services, credit support services, and up to five years of CCA business operations support. This business relationship between VCE and SMUD puts VCE on track to launch customer service in summer of 2018.
Why did SMUD want to work with VCE?
SMUD offered its services to VCE to help a neighboring organization that has closely aligned values, including local decision making, product choice, affordable rates, greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency and a not-for-profit, public power business model. SMUD has been doing the kind of work VCE requires for over 70 years. It has the operational and technical expertise to offer VCE flexible, efficient solutions that will help it hit the ground running and be successful over the long term.
Is this an annexation of VCE into SMUD?
No, this is a business relationship with VCEA contracting for services that SMUD will provide.
What is SMUD?
SMUD is the sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider in the nation. SMUD serves approximately 624,000 customers and a population of about 1.5 million people with a 2,000-plus strong workforce and an annual budget of about $1.6 billion.
How is SMUD managed?
SMUD is governed by a 7-member, publicly elected Board of Directors.
Where is SMUD’s service territory?
SMUD’s service territory is approximately 900 square miles and includes all of Sacramento County, as well as small adjoining portions of Placer County.
What makes SMUD different than other utility providers?
SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for healthier communities. In J.D. Power surveys SMUD has been ranked number one in overall residential customer satisfaction in California for 15 consecutive years and number one in overall commercial customer satisfaction in California for 11 of the last 12 years.
What percentage of SMUD electricity is sourced from renewable?
SMUD was the first large utility in California to have 20 percent of its power supply come from resources classified as renewable by the state. That figure is now approaching 30 percent and SMUD expects to be at approximately 41 percent by 2020. SMUD’s current power supply portfolio is more than 50 percent carbon free.