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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Green Energy Fetches a High Price -- and Many Customers -- in Marin County

Posted By and on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 5:15 PM

click to enlarge The future of Bay Area energy?
  • The future of Bay Area energy?
As both San Francisco and Marin County struggle to get "community choice aggregation" green-energy plans up and running, one of the big questions on observers' minds is whether electricity consumers will pay more for power from renewable sources such as wind and and the sun.

Marin County officials are claiming they have an answer. The Marin Energy Authority (MEA), which is running Marin Clean Energy -- a program through which the government hires a private provider to procure electricity "greener" than that supplied by the current utility, PG&E -- asserts that it doesn't have enough clean power to meet demand so far for its "deep green" power option, in which customers pay a premium for 100 percent renewable energy.

Interim MEA director Dawn Weisz tells The Bay Citizen that the agency wasn't expecting so much interest in the "deep green" program. (Most signed up for a "light green" option featuring 25 percent renewable energy.) The Citizen reports:

A total of 459 customers, or 4.7 percent, have signed up for deep green. But the Marin Energy Authority hadn't bought enough clean energy and was forced to put 35 customers on a waiting list in June. Two weeks ago, the program was reopened -- those on the waiting list are now getting enrolled -- after the authority bought more clean energy.

We spoke with Mike Campbell, director for CleanPowerSF, San Francisco's budding community choice aggregation program. The program has suffered repeated setbacks, and had to scuttle negotiations with its chosen energy provider in June.  

However, Campbell said the apparent popularity of Marin's "deep green" program is "a very big positive" and shows "an unmet demand" for cleaner power in the Bay Area. Too bad there's also still an unmet demand for a provider that can supply San Francisco customers with green energy similar to that in Marin. 

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Peter Jamison


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