Do you know how a CCE program would affect you as a customer? Find the answer and many more details here.
CCE Programs in General
Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs allow city and county governments to pool (or aggregate) the electricity demands of their communities in order to purchase power with higher renewable content, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reinvest in local energy infrastructure. The electricity continues to be distributed and delivered over the existing power lines by the incumbent utility, which is Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in Humboldt County.
What are the benefits of CCE?
The benefits of CCE fall into three general categories: consumer, environmental, and economic. CCEs benefit consumers by offering a choice of energy providers and stable, often lower, electric rates. By procuring renewable energy and low carbon resources, CCE’s have the potential to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gases attributed to the use of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. CCEs benefit the local economy by redirecting an existing revenue source (power generation costs) to invest in local energy resources, customer programs, and infrastructure, and to create new jobs.
Has this been done in other areas?
California currently has CCEs operating in Marin, Sonoma, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo and parts of Contra Costa Counties, as well as the City of Lancaster. Closer to home, Mendocino County recently elected to join Sonoma County’s program. All of these programs are offering customers more renewable energy at lower prices than PG&E. There are dozens of other California communities that are in the process of implementing local CCE programs.
How are CCEs funded?
All CCEs, once operational, are completely funded by program service revenues—not taxpayer dollars. Start-up funding and the credit required for initial energy contracts is being provided by the vendors selected to support program implementation and early operations.
Why are so many local governments considering CCE formation?
CCEs offer local control, providing customers and municipalities a choice regarding their electricity: how much is procured from renewable resources, which local resources are used, and how surplus revenues are spent. Existing CCEs have also succeeded in significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And because CCEs are locally controlled, energy programs can be developed to suit the specific goals of their communities, typically through innovative energy efficiency programs, the integration of clean technology, and local power generation. These types of programs can benefit the communities they serve and may also stimulate job growth.
Humboldt's CCE Program
The Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) will administer Humboldt County’s CCE program. RCEA is a local government joint powers authority managed by a Board of Directors comprised of elected officials from the unincorporated county, cities, and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. Decisions regarding electricity supply, rates, and other matters will be decided during publicly noticed Board meetings.
Where will CCE be offered and what is the timeframe?
All municipalities within Humboldt County have the chance to participate in the CCE Program now or in the future; so far the County of Humboldt (covering customers in the unincorporated areas of the County) and the Cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Blue Lake, Trinidad, and Rio Dell have passed the required ordinance authorizing the program in those communities. At this time, Ferndale is the only Humboldt County community not participating in the CCE. Humboldt’s CCE Program is scheduled to begin providing service to customers in spring of 2017. Multiple program launch notices will be sent to all customers in the months preceding and following the beginning of service.
Will RCEA replace PG&E?
No. CCEs work in partnership with the local utility. While RCEA will assume responsibility for procuring and developing power (the “generation” component of the PG&E bill) on behalf of participating customers, PG&E will continue to deliver your electricity, maintain the power lines and electrical grid, and handle customer billing.
Will PG&E still do repairs for CCE customers?
Yes, PG&E will continue to perform all power line maintenance and repairs for its utility customers, whether or not they’re also CCE customers. If the power goes out, you will still contact PG&E.
Will my rates go up when I’m switched over?
No, your rates will go down. One of the primary goals for the program is to ensure rates are competitive with PG&E’s. To date, the operational CCEs in California have succeeded in saving ratepayers millions of dollars while significantly increasing the levels of renewable and carbon free power that their customers consume. Our program is being designed to achieve similar results for Humboldt County.
Will my service be interrupted?
There will be no interruption in service. In fact, you might not even notice the difference when your account is enrolled because you will still receive and pay your bills through PG&E.
Are there any new fees or hidden costs for CCE customers?
There are no hidden costs and no duplicate charges for CCE customers. When the program commences, the electric generation fee currently charged by PG&E will be replaced on your bill as an electric generation charge from RCEA. There is also an exit fee levied on each customer by PG&E called the “Power Charge Indifference Adjustment” or PCIA. This fee pays PG&E for the stranded costs associated with the power it purchased on your behalf that is no longer needed. Although the PCIA is a separate charge on the customer bill, it will be factored into RCEA’s rates so that the overall electrical generation charges are below PG&E’s generation charges.
How will RCEA procure its electricity?
In May 2016, the RCEA Board selected The Energy Authority (TEA), a non-profit organization, to represent its interests in the wholesale power market. TEA, on RCEA’s behalf, will negotiate long- and short-term power contracts with energy producers, some of which will be local, based on the specific power supply goals developed by the RCEA Board. These contracts are negotiated with the goal of procuring energy that meets the requirements of cost, levels of carbon-free and renewable, use of local resources, reliability, and other factors as defined by the RCEA board and based on input from the community.
Do the renewable electrons procured by the CCE actually come into my home or business?
All the electrons purchased on your behalf are fed into California’s electricity grid, thus “greening the grid.” Electrons cannot be isolated and sent to specific customers. Your choice to participate in the CCE Program increases the amount of renewable power placed on California’s grid, which has the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stimulating new renewable development in our region and State.
If I have solar panels on my roof, will I still be able to sell excess electricity back into the grid?
Yes—RCEA plans to offer Net Energy Metering (NEM) to all solar customers, just as PG&E has. Existing CCEs have thus far succeeded in developing premium Net Energy Metering programs that increase the amount paid for excess energy generation, along with the ability to “roll over” energy credits from one year to the next, rather than allowing them to expire. Existing solar customers won’t have to do anything once RCEA begins serving customers; you’ll be automatically enrolled in the new NEM program if you’re currently in PG&E’s NEM program. This will likely be concurrent with your “true-up” month to ensure a seamless transition.
Can I participate in Humboldt's CCE Program if I am not in its service area?
No. Customers can only participate if their homes or businesses are located within the Humbodlt CCE service area.
How will I be notified about CCE?
State law requires that as we begin to implement our service, we must contact our customers in writing a minimum of four times to inform them about our program and customer options. We will do this via a combination of letters or mailers and postcards.
Are my tax dollars paying for this?
No. Community Choice Energy programs are supported entirely by electricity rate-payers—not by tax dollars. The profits that would have gone to PG&E shareholders are now being used to support this local energy program.
Are CCE customers still eligible to obtain rebates from PG&E for energy efficiency and solar electric systems?
Yes. The California Public Utilities Commission authorizes PG&E to collect fees (called public goods charges) from all customers to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy incentive programs. PG&E will still collect these fees and CCE customers will remain eligible for these incentives and services.
Rates & Billing
One of the primary goals of a CCE is providing rate stability, with higher levels of renewable power. Thus far, existing CCEs have succeeded in increasing the amount of renewable energy delivered to their communities, while saving their customers money. The RCEA Board of Directors will set its rates annually with the goal of offering rates below PG&E’s generation rates. Rate setting will occur at RCEA Board meetings, which are always open to the public; your input will be welcome. RCEA and PG&E will also jointly produce a rate comparison for customers that clearly shows the difference by rate type between the CCE rates (including exit fees) and PG&E base rates.
Will my PG&E discounts still apply?
Yes. The various discount programs offered through PG&E will still apply when you become a CCE customer: CARE, FERA and Medical Baseline programs will not be affected by participating in the program. Current participants will automatically continue and new enrollments will still be processed through PG&E.
Will I get a separate bill?
No, you’ll still get just one bill from PG&E, which includes electricity procurement from RCEA and PG&E’s customary delivery, transmission, maintenance and other utility charges. All fees and line items are clearly stated on the bill and there are never any duplicate charges.
What are PCIA and other fees?
PG&E charges RCEA customers a Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) and a Franchise Fee Surcharge. Both are calculated based on the number of kilowatt hours used each month.
The PCIA is intended to ensure that customers who switch to RCEA pay for energy that was acquired by PG&E to serve them prior to their switch. The PCIA currently ranges from less than one cent to just under two cents per kilowatt-hour, depending on when the customer switched to the CCE program and whether they are residential or commercial customers. The franchise fee is a lesser amount that counties and cities charge PG&E for the use of public streets to run its power distribution lines.
These charges are included in RCEA’s rates. Although the PCIA and Franchise Fee Surcharge appear as separate charges on the customer bill, they will be factored into RCEA’s rates so that the overall electrical generation charges are below PG&E’s generation charges. You can thus expect a lower electricity bill with CCE than you would with PG&E’s generation service.
Who do I call with questions about my bill?
California legislation stipulates that CCE providers (such as RCEA) shall become the default electricity supplier in their areas and that they shall operate as opt out programs—automatically enrolling all customers within their jurisdictions while affording a choice to leave the program, if desired.
How does the opt-out process work?
When a CCE is launched, all customers within its jurisdiction are sent a minimum of four notices over a period of five months to inform them that their electricity default provider is changing. Anyone can opt out of the program at no charge, via phone, website, or letter, at any time.
What is REpower?
REpower is the default electricity service offering. All CCE customers automatically start with REpower. It will cost less than PG&E’s standard electricity rate, while offering approximately 5% more renewable energy.
What is REpower+?
REpower+ is RCEA’s electricity upgrade, and is 100% renewable. It will cost a little more than standard PG&E rates.
How do I sign up for REpower+?
You can sign up on our website, www.redwoodenergy.org or call us at 1 (800) 931-RCEA. Have your PG&E bill handy so you can reference your account number.
Can I switch between the REpower and REpower+ services?
CCE customers are automatically enrolled in our standard REpower program., but can “opt up” to our premium, 100% renewable REpower+ at any time. Go to our website, www.redwoodenergy.org, or call us at 1 (800) 931-RCEA.
Can I return to RCEA after I opt out?
Customers who opt out before starting the CCE service or within the first 60 days may return to the service at any time. Customers who opt out after the first 60 days of the CCE service will be prohibited by PG&E from returning for one year.
Is there a fee for opting out?
There is no charge for opting out of the CCE Program at any time.
I just moved to a new address and I want to establish service. How do I sign up?
Establishing service is easy. Contact PG&E one week before you will need service at your new address and schedule an appointment by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. New customers who move into the Humboldt CCE service area are automatically enrolled into the CCE program and will be mailed two notices within the first sixty days of service with information about their options.
Where can I learn more?