Archive | Energy

In fighting climate change, energy is the big play. That’s because it’s the only place we can make giant changes with a single action. When we change the source of our electricity from fossil fuels to renewables, we are reducing the carbon footprint of all the homes and businesses in Marin with the throwing of one switch.

The demand side of the energy story is equally important. The most valuable kilowatt-hour of electricity is the one we don’t use thanks to improved our energy efficiency. As you explore this section, you’ll find news of many exciting efficiency programs for homes and businesses.

New Solar For San Rafael

An artist's drawing of the solar panels planned for City Hall. The blue panels will shade most of the parking spaces as well as the roof of teh main building.

An artist’s drawing of the solar panels planned for City Hall. The blue panels will shade most of the parking spaces as well as the roof of the main building.

In August, the San Rafael City Council voted to move ahead with a major initiative to install solar panels on six city buildings.  The first site to be completed will be City Hall, pictured above.  When the project is complete. 57% of the city’s electric use will be delivered by solar, and the city’s greenhouse gas emissions will have been reduced by 18%.  Check out this story in the Marin IJ for more details.

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Marin’s Largest Solar Farm Approved

Solar panels against skyNEWS FLASH!  On June 23, the Marin County Planning Commission approved construction of a 2 Megawatt Solar Farm at the abandoned Cooley quarry outside Novato.

Public comments and those of the commissioners converged on a common theme:  This project is a perfect example of the kind of projects Marin needs, with none of the negatives that have doomed other renewable energy projects:

  • It will provide enough clean, local electricity to power 500 – 600 homes.
  • It is located on a degraded, abandoned industrial site with no other useful function.
  • It will have no significant impacts on local wildlife, water quality, soils, etc.
  • It is almost invisible. Only hikers in a few spots on Mt. Burdell will be able to see it in the distance.
  • There is already a road and 12,000-volt electrical connection to the site, so there will be minimal local impacts during construction.
  • It will be built and owned by local companies, providing quality local jobs during construction.

Unless someone appeals the Planning Commission decision to the full Board of Supervisors within the next two weeks, construction should start in mid-July and be complete by early autumn.  It will be Marin’s largest solar installation yet, and will be used by Marin Clean Energy to power their new “Sol Shares” 100% local renewable option.

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Sonoma Clean Power Moves Ahead

PrintOn April 23, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to move ahead with setting up a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) clean power agency just like Marin’s MCE. This vote means that approximately 100,000 homes in the unincorporated parts of the county will start receiving their electricity from “Sonoma Clean Power” in January 2014, unless they opt-out to stay with PG&E.  As in Marin and Richmond, transmission, distribution and billing will continue to be provided by PG&E.

The next step in Sonoma will be for the incorporated cities to each vote whether or not to join Sonoma Clean Power. The goal is to have all these votes complete by the end of June. If all cities join, the total customer base for SPC will be approximately 220,000 homes and businesses.

The initial product of the new agency will be 33% renewable (vs. PG&E’s current 20% renewable.)  It is not clear yet whether SCP will also offer a 100% renewable option like MCE’s “Deep Green.”

You can read local press coverage here  and here. Also just like Marin is the establishment newspaper’s implacable opposition to community choice.  You can read the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s anti clean energy editorial here.

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Novato Switches to MCE

Marin Clean Energy LogoOn March 16, 2013 the Novato City Council joined the other cities in Marin by votong unanimously to switch all 121 of that city’s municipal electric accounts from PG&E to Marin Clean Energy. (Most Novato homeowners and businesses switched to MCE last summer.)

The  Staff Report recommending the change noted that moving to MCE will save the city roughly $7,800 on its annual electric bill while reducing  greenhouse gas emissions by about 191,000 lb a year – the equivalent of taking 18 cars off the road . . . forever. That’s because the the power Novato buys through MCE will be at least 50% renewable vs. PG&E’s 20% renewable power.

MCE is Marin’s unique first-in-the-state Community Choice electricity provider. They provide more stable prices and cleaner energy by writing long-term contracts for renewable energy for their customers in Marin and Richmond, while PG&E continues to provide distribution, billing and service. MCE also encourages local distributed renewable generation by offering a very favorable rates specifically for rooftop solar and small commercial solar projects in Marin and Richmond. For more information, see the MCE Website.

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The First 100% Solar City?

Solar shade in lancaster

Solar panels over a stadium parking lot in Lancaster, CA

The high desert city of Lancaster, CA is seriously planning to be the first city in the world to produce more electricity from solar panels than it uses. It’s an ambitious plan, but they’ve already taken a number of measures that are more far-reaching than anywhere else in the world.  For example, all new houses in Lancaster, which is a fast-growing exurb of L.A., are required to either be built with a self-sufficent solar system of their own or to be part of a subdivision that contributes one KW of net generation to the grid for each home in the development.

These plans were recently the subject of a feature story in the New York Times. You can read it below.

NY Times logoWith Help From Nature, a Town Aims to Be a Solar Capital

By . April 8, 2013

LANCASTER, Calif. — There are at least two things to know about this high desert city. One, the sun just keeps on shining. Two, the city’s mayor, a class-action lawyer named R. Rex Parris, just keeps on competing.

Two years ago, the mayor, a Republican, decided to leverage the incessant Antelope Valley sun Continue Reading →

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52 Responses for New MCE Projects

Overwhelming Response to Marin Clean Energy Call for Renewable Energy Projects.

MCE  announced that fifty-two offers for California renewable energy projects were submitted on March 1, 2013 in response to its annual Open Season Procurement Process for renewable energy projects. The additional clean energy contracted through these offers will help further reduce energy‐related greenhouse gas emissions and advance MCE’s long‐term goal of supplying all customers with 100% renewable energy.

MCE currently has contracts with 10 suppliers for 15 power projects. These projects include 52 MW of solar and 8 MW of landfill gas – enough clean energy to power approximately 22,500 homes per year. A substantial number of the open season responses received are for projects in northern California and will help MCE achieve its commitment to increase the percentage of cost-competitive local, regional and in-state renewable energy.

MCE has begun evaluating the proposed project opportunities, which included project sizes between 2 and 80 megawatts of solar photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, and biogas generating capacity. Responses to the Open Season Procurement Process significantly exceeded MCE’s expectations and resulted in proposed aggregate capacity total of 673 megawatts expandable to 752 megawatts.

MCE is now beginning a detailed analysis of the proposed projects, but a preliminary review reflects favorable renewable energy prices in line with market expectations. Key evaluative criteria for the offers include environmental impacts, local economic benefits, project location, qualifications of the project team, siting and permitting considerations, project financing plans, energy pricing, and resource type.

MCE will notify short‐listed respondents following a detailed evaluation of responses. MCE will commence initial contract negotiations following short‐list notifications with the goal of developing draft power purchase agreements between March and May. Project approval and execution is scheduled for late May or early June.

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