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.

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16 comments

  • It cut our monthly bill by nearly half!!!

    • local observer

      just the last bill? or all previous bills since their start? my last bill was much less but it had a “California Climate Credit” of $39.42 and a conservation credit of $26.95 due to using less this period. the rest were a little more.

      • Yes, it was a very odd bill that had a credit so large that there was money left over to offset part of next months bill.

  • All of them AFAIK, my wife handles the bills but I haven’t heard her say anything except just after we switched!!! Theat the bill had gone down by nearly half!!!

  • I do not like that we were automatically switched without our consent. Nor the increase in our bill. Nor the rude customer service representative who balked at our opting out. After two months we were finally released from their billing scheme and the result was a much lower bill. As low energy users we were very concerned at the creation of a new authority and the process of automatically switching folks to this new authority we never voted for. The customer service representative was condensending.

  • It is not a choice when you are automatically switched to them. After reviewing what little was available at the time on the web on the authority we realized they are a broker of services. They do not provide the energy source. They are middle men folks selling a product.

    • Nancy Stephenson

      RCEA is a Joint Powers organization, which means its board of directors is made of city councilmen and supervisors. It’s local. Community Choice Energy programs shop for and provide renewable sources of electricity on the market while developing local resources, which RCEA is actively working on. The revenues go directly into customer programs which will be rolling out in the months and years ahead. It’s a huge movement in California and it’s how electricity will be procured in communities across state in the future.

  • Our last bill had the climate credit and was lower. All the others seemed to be about $20 bucks higher. Wondering if opting out would lower it.

  • The new bills are terribly confusing and coupled with the twice a year energy credit highly deceptive to claim “lowers your bill” when it was the credit did all the lowering.

  • This article is missing a Big Story!

    ….maybe I missed it but recently there was a Navy decision affecting the ability of locals to regulate and organize for offshore wind energy use.
    The Navy had threatened it and had made some ruling or updated it’s maps that prevents or tries to, the development of offshore wind energy facilities as far north as Monterrey and tries have a say in our coast.
    The article was in the LA Times, I kept expecting to see it written about up here but nope nope nope.
    I was stupid to not save it, so confident I was in local journalists, lol. Well, nobody is perfect even if pretty good.
    I will look for it.
    Whatever, the crux of it was that there was LESS uncertainty now for anybody to exp[lore offshore wind in Humboldt which would be huge here around the Bay. Redwood energy has a small program they are working on and others may and will joi9n in a big wind energy rush…I hope.
    With the current most incompetent and corrupt administration ever in DC, and the Navy’s innate conservatism (remember that smooth dog and pony show they put on about sonic testing…now factor in the major graft of the fossil fuelers mixed with the Navy..)
    …it will be an uphill struggle but it so necessary and logical it will happen, but not without a fight from the Usual Suspects.
    Oh look, with my superior google fu it is the top story after a simple search,lol:

    “Offshore wind farms are planned for California — but the Navy says no to large sections of the coast”
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wind-farms-california-navy-20180508-story.html

    Want me to write it Kim?

    This could well be an economic turning point around here, as the uncertainty and the possibility is volatile mix.

    • local observer

      have you ever been off our shore? there are tens of thousands of fat little sea birds that drift around the rifts feeding on bait. they have a hard time gaining altitude and generally only fly within 30 feet of the waters surface. and then there are the whales and everything else that will be adversely affected by our facilities. it is irresponsible to use the oceans surface in this form. They need to be on land.

      • you do know this is not new technology right?

        • local observer

          for whales: how many anchor lines does each WindFloat unit require? how many WindFloat units per square mile? including the transmission lines and anchor lines, how many potential whale entanglement hazards does this project pose for the grey whale and its pups on their northern migration? keep in mind that the grey whale stays close to shore on it northern migration to avoid Orcas.
          for the duck: what is the height of the unit and blade span? how many per square mile? depth of placement? etc.
          this project is expected to bring more harm than benefit. new technology has nothing to do with it. this project makes the one in Nantucket Sound, which is fixed in shallow sands off MV, harmless and a possible benefit to marine organisms.
          if you think it through you come up with its not going to happen.

          • backwards into the future, I am more worried about an oil tanker running into the wind farm.

            You have none of the answers yourself I am betting.

            The project will be reviewed by many agencies, you will get a chance to drag your anchor then.

            Meanwhile I hope you are getting all the info possible from the existing windfarms to be able top speak cogently on the issue.

            • local observer

              the answer is 4. there are 4 potential whale entanglement dangers per WindFloat unit. an oil tanker from where?

    • Nancy Stephenson

      The article was about the one year anniversary if CCE, and it did mention the offshore wind effort, but it was also the cover story on the North Coast Journal a few months ago. There is more information on RCEA’s website – it’s a big deal and you will be hearing about it a lot in the coming months. The turbines will be over 20 miles out where there is much less bird activity. And there will be months or even years of studies and research that will explore every possible impact before the project moves forward. The community will be involved every step of the way and yes, it’s very promising and very exciting!

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