For better or worse, I know a lot more about regulated utilities' business models, accounting practices and competitive responses than most lay persons. I learned it in the telecom industry, but parts of it are transferable. My first job out of college was for a telephone company and the first thing my first boss had me do was read all of the tariffs that formed the description and pricing of all the telecom services. Boring, but quite a learning experience.
When I read that the government wants to help green power competitors compete with PG&E my antennae go up and start to quiver. This SM County Times article did just that
In the latest sign that a Bay Area renewable energy trend is picking up steam, San Mateo County is taking a close look at buying its own power on the open market, instead of relying on PG&E, in a bid to lower its greenhouse gas emissions.
The county is exploring whether to establish a community choice aggregation program, which allows local governments to create their own energy portfolios that rely more on alternative sources like wind and solar and less on fossil fuels. On Tuesday, the board of supervisors will vote on allocating $300,000 toward a technical study of the proposal.
Digging into the details we find
The county anticipates that the program will lower rates for consumers and generate savings that can be plowed into local renewable energy projects.
Where can I go to take that bet? Looking further we learn
Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power have seen promising results. Marin forecasts that its basic package, which consists of 50 percent renewable energy, will be $80.14 a month for a typical user in 2015, compared to $81.58 a month for PG&E power that is 22 percent renewable.
Marin customers can pay more for premium plans -- $84.77 for power that is 100 percent renewable and $107.92 for energy delivered entirely from local solar farms.
Until battery technology takes a super quantum leap in performance and price, the "100 percent renewable" advertising slogan is really just that. Neither wind nor rain can stop the postal service, but the lack of one and the presence of the other certainly stops green power sometimes.
Leave it to the IBEW Local to find the flaw
Local 1245, said Marin Clean Energy's approach is flawed, relying too much on renewable energy certificates to meet its alternative energy targets. These certificates, purchased from renewable energy suppliers, allow the group to take credit for renewable energy generation without actually buying it.
We will have to watch this one. $300K is fine for a technical study, but I have to ask who is doing the "business study" that will cover the taxpayers' interests? It all smells a little like high-cost rail.