October 24, 2017


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Excited to see these CCAs sprouting all around the Bay Area!

I am in no way objecting to truly cleaner, more efficient, sustainable alternative energy sources and systems. In fact, I favor bringing on such things as quickly as humanly possible. What I do point out is that the bottom line on the electric bill with PCE is not lower for some.

I also try to point out that the clean energy is not always cleaner or truly cheaper if solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, wave, even nuclear (for goodness sakes!) or whatever schemes and projects have all their costs and all consequences totaled. As something to think about, our state and federal politicians never went for any of this stuff until technology was developed for large commercial (read "energy corporation") scale projects with subsidies, tax breaks, excused or ignored negative environmental consequences, etc. Consider the corporate lobbyists involved in Sacramento and the corporate influence on the sometimes corrupt and scandal-plagued PUC. PG&E has had to be dragged into some of the programs and still does not give full credit for as much energy as dispersed generation can provide to the grid in some cases--this in spite of all the breaks PG&E gets as a public utility monopoly owning the grid.

And I thought I made it clear in my pejorative comments that "sustainability" can only be considered an Orwellian term as used by San Mateo County politicians and staff to greenwash its mostly trivial attempts to look concerned while it heartily approves one large, negative, destructive, unsustainable infrastructure or development project after another in unincorporated areas, especially on the coastside.

So, all the information needed to make an informed and ethical decision about PCE--whether or not it is truly cleaner, cheaper, sustainable, etc.--is not there in the materials provided to us customers. From past experience we have no reason to take all that is not covered on faith, even when those who ask us to do so locally are known to be honest people with the best of intentions. Sorry, but links to and the contents of PG&E or San Mateo County websites that don't cover all that needs to be considered have very little influence on me.

Carl, in response to your comment about rates, here is a joint rate comparison published by PG&E on their website stating clearly that Peninsula Clean Energy's electricity costs less:


PG&E and the other community choice energy programs such as Peninsula Clean Energy are required to publish these joint rate comparisons by the California Public Utilities Commission. This is the gold standard for how you can tell which electricity choice costs less. When reading these tables, note that most residents have an E-1 rate plan. This same rate comparison is also on Peninsula Clean Energy's website, and PG&E sent this information as a post card mailer to all San Mateo County customers a couple of months ago, as required by law.

PG&E bills are certainly confusing, but the 5% savings on electricity generation for PCE customers are there. Note that overall energy bills have increased in the past year because PG&E has raised rates on natural gas and transmission charges for all their customers, not just here in San Mateo County. Peninsula Clean Energy has a useful video on how to calculate your savings on electricity generation on your bill at https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/residents. I hope this helps.

Note that San Mateo County does prioritize energy efficiency programs as well, and has an Office of Sustainability that administers these rebates. See http://www.smcenergywatch.com. Peninsula Clean Energy customers are eligible for all of these and PG&E energy efficiency programs, and are encouraged to take advantage of them!

To John Keener: We and a number of other people on the midcoast have calculated our PG&E bills using the method of comparison provided. It is costing us more with PCE.

As to your "50% renewable and 80% greenhouse gas free" statement, that may be true depending on how you define and calculate those terms. But "renewable" can be just as, or even more, environmentally damaging due to landscape coverage and new transmission lines involved. Big wind projects, for example, sometimes don't pencil out environmentally when all factors are included, rather than just those elements provided by interests eager to greenwash the efforts. Covering large areas of natural desert with solar farms is an environmental disaster in the areas involved. Government subsidies and tax breaks for commercial-scale projects and lack of net energy calculations in some instances serve to mask the true costs of renewables. So the term "renewable" is no guarantee of cleaner or cheaper energy. The same kinds of cautions apply to greenhouse-gas-free projects. Are all the sources of the energy inputs involved in providing the energy included in the calculations? Are all kinds of greenhouse gases included, rather than merely CO2?

The two general areas where energy alternatives to fossil fuels usually do calculate to be improvements are: 1. reduction of energy demand through stabilization or reduction of population and development size and through passive measures such as white roofs (where cooling of buildings dominates) or dark roofs (where heating of buildings dominates), better building orientation, insulation, etc.; and 2. implementation of modern distributed (aka dispersed) energy-generating and storing systems (especially on buildings and other hardscaped areas) in the places where energy is used, thus eliminating most of the need for additional environmental destruction, new infrastructure, and the huge amount of electricity lost in long-distance transmission lines, among other advantages. There are, of course, myriad complications in the sort of generalizations I'm making here, especially when one gets down to the details of localities.

Because our county and most local city governments are so clueless as to what is truly sustainable and what can be done to work in the direction of genuine sustainability, given what capabilities we already have, and because of the long history of local politicians greenwashing good-sounding efforts on one hand while making those same corporation-serving efforts destructive in the real world on the other, I'm not about to roll for any program in any urban area that is not thoroughly justified with facts and no-wiggle-room governing requirements. If such things are available for PCE, we certainly have not seen it in the materials provided to us so far. Sorry, I'm a skeptic and not about to have faith in anything based on semantics. And I don't approve of any efforts just because they are less bad and do no more than slow the pace at which some condition is getting worse.

To Carl May: If you are getting Eco Plus from Peninsula Clean Energy, you are paying 5% less for electrical generation (including the PCIA charge) than you would with PG&E. (I'm on the board of PCE.) That's how our rates are set. It can be hard to sort this out, because the accounting is made difficult by PG&E's presentation on the bill. Call 866-966-0110 or visit http://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/ for help in deciphering the savings.

And by the way, you're getting 50% renewable and 80% greenhouse gas-free power.

Regarding concrete, I agree totally. It's environmentally very costly, from mining the materials, to the energy consumption in manufacturing, to its ultimate use.

We are paying more with PCE than we were paying with PG&E. Same is true for some other people down here on the midcoast. And the renewable energy is not necessarily "clean" because it can come from landscape-destroying commercial wind and solar projects rather than much more sensible distributed sources.

By the way, concrete is a huge environmental negative in the U.S. The extraction of sand and rock and the crushing of rock for use in concrete tear up the countryside -- often sand dunes and riverbeds -- and involve high energy inputs in the extraction, processing, and transport of the materials. Even worse is the cement component, which also screws up the landscape, requires enormous amounts of energy to process (especially the heating of rock in huge kilns), and produces pollution in the form of emissions from the processing plants and toxic waste products from the kilns. I have heard estimates as high as 3 percent of all the energy use in the U.S. going into concrete production.

Amazing what a huge success Peninsula Clean Energy has been. So much great behind-the-scenes work helping us make the transition to a fossil-free future. We chose the 100% renewal option. Not much money to be part of the solution to one of the world's most pressing problems!

Excellent news on Peninsula Clean Energy. Pacifica could become a "climate change model city" for California. Mandate solar panels and graywater on all new construction, use our wind somehow to generate energy, underground all PG&E wires to greatly lessen the risk of fire (this should be paid for by counties/states, not homeowners), insist builders build climate change safe structures. I suggest concrete monolithic dome homes and commercial buildings, as they are most resistant to high winds, earthquakes, and fires. We also need to get more fresh water and food self-reliant. Vertical farms? And we must prepare for heat waves and locate a place in town to retrofit with air conditioning to protect vulnerable citizens during extreme-heat days. And we need a medical clinic in town. Climate change is happening faster than expected and it's going to be worse than we imagine. It's only a matter of time before we feel the effects here.

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