Get Smart about Energy™


In 2008/9 the leadership of Marin County committed rate payer monies to investigate energy solutions to meeting the legislated requirements of AB32, in particular that renewable energy would make up 20% of all energy consumed by the end of 2010.

In February 2010, the Marin Energy Authority (MEA), created in 2008 by the county and city officials, took the final steps to implement (using legislation passed in 2002 (AB117) ) the Marin Clean Energy Plan with 7 of the 11 cities (and the county) in Marin County participating.

Renewable symbols On May 7th 2010, the Marin Clean Energy Plan went live. At a prestigious event hosted by Marin Green Leadership Marin County was recognized by Senator Mark Leno in front of some 100's of residents and local businesses. A much deserved commendation in our opinion!

In September of 2010, as the first phase drew to a close, 80% of the residents invited had decided to be MEA customers, a clear mandate by Marin residents.

A fine summary can be found at: Marin Clean Energy secures 80 percent of customers sought in initial roll out - by Rick Halstead of the Marin IJ.

The first 18 months of operations has been a success for the agency. Loans have been repaid,  5000 additional residents invited, the communities of Ross, Novato, Corte Madera and Larkspur have joined the JPA and new renewable energy contractshave been signed.

But the declining price of traditional generation has continued to create price challenges. Our appreciation to Rick Halstead who has did an excellent job of explaining the issue in his article titled Some residents will have to pay a bit more for Marin Clean Energy.

We believe that the Marin Energy Authority (the product is known as Marin Clean Energy Plan) is good for Marin and for California. There is strong evidence to show that competition has forced both PG&E and the Marin Energy Authority to improve their service levels.

We do encourage residents who have participated in the initial phases on the implementation to share their experiences with our readers, pro or con. But, please note, we will only publish actual experiences!

The Purpose of This Article and it's Links
During 2012 many residents of the original communities ( Belvedere, Fairfax, County of Marin, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito & Tiburon) and the new communities (Ross, Novato, Larkspur & Corte Madera) will be enrolled in the Marin Clean Energy Plan.

Open4Energy has undertaken to provide Marin rate payers with a framework of unbiased information that they can use to make an informed decision.

Rate Payer Action - opt out - opt up - do nothing
In response to the 16 billion dollars of loss in 2001 by California's energy suppliers, and a fear that pseudo monopolistic utilities would not partner with CCA's, Assembly Bill 117 requires that the encumbant utility (PG&E) transfer a customers account to the CCA (Marin Energy Authority) on enrollment.

Note: Neither PG&E or MEA determine this process - each can request it be reviewed by the regulators.

During the enrollment period rate payers will be sent three notices explaining their choice and how to exercise it. They will be informed that they can; do nothing (effectively a decision to remain enrolled); opt-up by contacting MEA to request supply of 100% clean energy; opt-out by calling MEA and asking to be transferred back to PG&E.

Green Energy Discussion
The Marin Energy Authority and supporters of the Marin Clean Energy Plan claim that it will accelerate Marin County's ability to meet the "green" standards of Assembly Bill 32. Rate payers will be able to receive a guaranteed 25% renewable energy, and for a small additional fee, the opt-up to deep green option, 100% renewable energy.

PG&E and opponents of the Marin Clean Energy Plan claim that they already deliver 52% clean electricity, and that the green advantages proposed by the Marin Clean Energy Plan are all in the current definition of renewable energy.

Financial Risk
The Marin Energy Authority states on its web site that investment in renewable energy generation can help achieve a higher level of price stability for homes and businesses, and help protect the local economy. The initial studies show that Marin ratepayers could save $240 million over the next twenty years.

Marin County Treasurer Michael Smith January 7th called on the County's Board of Supervisors to halt their efforts to launch the Marin Energy Authority. The well-respected Smith said "we should value the work of the Grand Jury who give their time in service to Marin and withdraw from the clean energy program."

The good news for MEA is that financial projections always turn into financial results. The facts speak for themselves. Here is a link to the 2011 financial statements. And the interim results for the 11 months to February 2012, presented to the board in the April board meeting in support of the 2013 rate plans show a surplus of $2,983,945.00

Community Considerations
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Marin County has the fifth highest income per capita in the United States at $91,483. The economy of Marin is tightly linked with the economy of Silicon Valley, the power house of California's High tech industry. Although "green" energy is an important consideration to Marin County, we believe it is equally important that we fully consider the knock on effects to the business community of Marin and the bay area.

Opinion and Thinking Ahead
It is difficult to separate fact, from opinion, from conjecture, and from misleading fear mongering. In this section we seek out considered opinion from established energy experts, and ask the difficult questions. For each question we have sought the views from both sides of the debate.

The Marin Energy Authority (MEA), a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), was formed in December 2008, by appointment of the Marin Board of Supervisors and city authorities.

On December 4th 2009 the Marin Energy Authority successfully filed a California Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Plan, in terms of Assembly Bill 117, with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

On Thursday the 4th February 2010 the Marin Energy Authority voted to approve a 5 year contract to purchase electricity from Shell Energy North America and notified PG&E to transfer 9,200 (Phase I) accounts to them in terms of the legislation.

Marin Energy Authority
The purpose of the Marin Energy Authority (MEA) is to address climate change by reducing energy related greenhouse gas emissions and securing energy supply, price stability, energy efficiencies and local economic and workforce benefits.

Marin Clean Energy
Marin Clean Energy (MCE) is a renewable energy alternative to PG&E's electric supply. MCE is responsible for sourcing the power and purchases the energy supply while PG&E continues to deliver the energy, maintain and repair transmission lines, and provide customer service and billing.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, incorporated in California in 1905, is one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, the company is a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.

Expert Opinions
There are a number of energy experts who have weighed in on this debate. The issues range from technical, to green energy, to financial risk to the impact on the community.

Directory of Web Sites
A list of web sites containing original information on the issues.


Open4Energy - Get Smart about Energy™