Redwood Coast Energy Authority Celebrates First Year of ‘Community Choice Energy’
This is a press release from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority:
One year ago, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) successfully launched Community Choice Energy, an electric power generation program that has begun to change the way Humboldt County thinks about energy. It was designed by local city councils and county supervisors to keep millions of dollars in our community, control our energy resources, and reduce greenhouse gases. The program has proven to have significant benefits to 62,000 customers that are enrolled in the program, which amounts to 93.2% of eligible electricity customers.
The rate for RCEA’s electric generation service is lower than PG&E’s. While the savings per household may be only a few dollars, it added up to over $1.7 million dollars in customer rate savings in the first twelve months. Customers on PG&E’s rate discount programs still receive the additional savings, and everyone benefits from reliable delivery service PG&E has always provided.
Community Choice Energy is a growing statewide movement, with twelve such programs now operating and serving 1,853,000 customers, with six more set to launch during 2018. State officials estimate 85% of California’s electric load will be served by such programs by the mid-2020s. They have supported 2800 jobs and have avoided 940,388 metric tons of greenhouse gases. RCEA works in close partnership with its sister programs in other counties to share resources and best practices.
While the default electricity option delivers 42% renewable energy to all automatically enrolled customers, 750 customers have “opted up” to 100% renewable energy for their homes or businesses for a marginal fee, including the municipal governments of Blue Lake and Arcata. As the rest of Humboldt County and its municipalities consider similar measures, such as Eureka’s recent resolution to use only clean, renewable energy by 2025, RCEA expects to be purchasing, supplying, and developing a variety of local sources of electricity that will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase resiliency, and boost economic benefits.
RCEA’s power mix in 2017 included 24% wind, 40% hydroelectric, 5% solar, 5% geothermal, and 16% from a fluid mix of power sources available on the daily energy market. Locally-sourced biomass from Humboldt Redwood Company makes up the last 11%.
“Humboldt Redwood’s business relationship with RCEA has been invaluable to the Company’s long-term commitment to environmentally responsible forestry while also providing family-wage jobs for Humboldt County residents and support for the local economy,” said Jim Pelkey, Humboldt Redwood Company. According to RCEA, the 40-50 jobs at HRC and additional biomass made at DG Fairhaven are a starting point, and discussions are ongoing with local labor unions about how future power generation opportunities can utilize the local skilled workforce.
RCEA’s Transportation Department, which supports the use of alternative fuel vehicles in Humboldt County, is not funded by the CCE program but the 908 local electric vehicle customers who charge up at any of RCEA’s 13 public charging stations are driving on 100% renewable energy since all RCEA stations have “opted up”.
Revenues from Community Choice Energy, which already include about $1 million in reserve, will provide rate-stabilization and the capacity to support local power generation projects like offshore wind and a solar micro-grid at the Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport. While California has set aggressive goals to identify and develop clean, renewable sources of energy, Humboldt County is expected to play a key role and RCEA will continue to work with the community to shape the future.