Hayward goes carbon-free in Alameda County move off PG&E electricity supply
Council decision puts city on course to meeting some of the country’s most ambitious municipal climate protection goals
HAYWARD, Calif., March 7, 2018—Hayward became one of the first and largest Bay Area city thus far to vote to move customers off Pacific Gas and Electric Company-supplied electricity onto entirely carbon-free sources of energy generation.
The vote by the City Council on Tuesday selecting a default electricity product for Hayward customers being moved off PG&E electricity and onto power supplied East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) puts Hayward on the path to cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 20 percent over 2005 levels by the year 2020 and by more than 60 percent by 2040.
“Most of us will never have the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases as much as we will tonight,” said Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall, chair of the Council Sustainability Committee and member of the East Bay Community Energy board of directors, as he and his fellow Council members prepared to vote.
East Bay Community Energy, or EBCE, is the latest of a handful of nonprofit agencies formed by local governments in the Bay Area and across California to takeover electricity procurement from PG&E and other utility monopolies. The goal is to provide a cleaner, greener, more affordable choice of electricity than offered by the incumbent utilities, which tend to be more reliant on natural gas, other carbon-based fuels and nuclear power plants. Under state law providing for creation of local energy aggregation networks such as EBCE, PG&E or the incumbent utility remains responsible for transmitting electricity, maintaining distribution infrastructure, and billing services.
Initially, EBCE will offer two electricity options or products in Alameda County. The first, Bright Choice, will be at a minimum 85 percent carbon-free. The second, Brilliant 100, will be entirely carbon free. Bright Choice will be priced 1.5 percent below PG&E electricity. Brilliant 100 will be priced equal to PG&E rates. Commercial customers will begin being enrolled this June. Residential customers will start being enrolled in January 2019.
On Tuesday, the decision before the Hayward City Council was whether to make slightly less expensive Bright Choice with some greenhouse gas emissions or entirely carbon-free Brilliant 100 the default electricity product for new EBCE customers in Hayward. The Council chose carbon-free Brilliant 100, starting with commercial electricity customers being enrolled in June. The Council also authorized the purchase of Brilliant 100 electricity for all City-owned buildings and facilities.
Other EBCE-member cities and the County of Alameda are going to be considering similar decisions in the days and weeks ahead. On Monday, the Albany City Council made Brilliant 100 its default electricity product for City of Albany EBCE customers. Hayward is now the largest Bay Area jurisdiction to opt for 100 percent carbon free electricity.
For the Hayward City Council, its selection of entirely carbon free electricity wasn’t its last act at the Tuesday meeting. The Council also authorized a contract for design and construction of a two- megawatt solar array at Hayward’s wastewater treatment plant. It already has a customer for the electricity to be produced by the solar facility—East Bay Community Energy.
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