Many Bay Area residents already meeting Jerry Brown's carbon-free energy goal

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Many Bay Area residents already meeting new carbon-free energy goal
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Residents in many parts of the Bay Area are already getting their power from renewable sources. They've also achieved the Governor's carbon-free goal.

SACRAMENTO (KGO) -- California is setting an ambitious goal to source all of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. Governor Brown signed a bill Monday in Sacramento that also calls for the state's utility companies to generate 60 percent of their energy from renewable sources-wind, solar, hydro-by 2030. That's a 10 percent increase in the existing mandate. However, there's no penalty for the carbon-free goal if not met.

"It's not going to be easy and will not be immediate, but it must be done," said Brown. "California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change."

Residents in many parts of the Bay Area are already getting their power from renewable sources. They've also achieved the Governor's carbon-free goal.

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The main provider of clean energy in the Bay Area is a collection of seven community agencies, including Silicon Valley Clean Energy. In just over a year's time, it is already meeting the Governor's goal of carbon free electricity by 2045.

"From the time that we first began our service in April 2017, our default product has been carbon free and 50 percent renewable," said Pamela Leonard, community outreach manager at Silicon Valley Clean Energy.

270,000 households and businesses in 12 South Bay cities plus unincorporated Santa Clara County still have PG&E hook-ups. PG&E also handles billing. However, Silicon Valley Clean Energy sources renewable power to attain the 50 percent benchmark.

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"We get most of our solar energy from Central California and our wind from Southern California," explained Pamela Leonard. "A lot of our hydro resources are from the Pacific Northwest. But recently, we signed a 15-year agreement for a new wind energy project, which is 200 megawatts which is enough power for about 77,000 homes, and it's a new project that's being developed in New Mexico that will tie into California's grid."

Solar production is abundant during peak times, sometimes exceeding demand. Renewable energy experts have been looking into batteries to store solar-generated energy for use on overcast days or at night. However, the technology is still under development.

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Silicon Valley Clean Energy's first report card, to be issued soon, will show it has delivered 3.6 billion kilowatt hours of carbon-free energy, resulting in 1.1 billion pounds of carbon emissions avoided. Customers have also seen a $16.5 million savings on their bills. Emissions have been reduced 16.6 percent from its 2015 baseline.

The average residential customer is paying $4 per month less than what PG&E charged. There is also an option to choose 100 percent renewable energy, instead of 50 percent, for about $1 more per month than PG&E rates.

The Bay Area's largest city, San Jose, is also working on its own community renewable energy service. The launch of residential service is projected to start next spring.

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