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Central Coast communities looking to make electricity cheaper and greener

Posted at 10:56 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 14:38:07-04

A few Central Coast communities are looking to provide cheaper and greener electricity to residents.

Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo joined Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP),  a program that aims to provide more renewable energy at a lower cost.

Now other major cities are looking to do the same.

“Every day, the minute I walk through the door, the power is going for something,” said Tammy Correia.

Whether she’s doing laundry or cooking, Correia uses electricity daily.

She says she’s excited to see that energy become cheaper and greener.

“It’s already expensive to live on the coast, living our dreams so anything that could help would be great,” said Correia.

The City of Grover Beach and other communities are looking to help by partnering with MBCP.

It’s a  Community Choice Energy (CCE) program— a state law that brings local control, freedom of choice and competition into the electricity market place.

It allows local cities to combine electricity demand in the area to provide more renewable power such as wind and solar.

“We match PG&E electric generation rate on a monthly basis, you are paying exactly what you would with PG&E, but based on the type of customer you are, right now you get a 3% rebate,” said J.R. Killigrew, MBCP director of communications and energy programs.

According to MBCP, the program applies the customer rebate as a bill credit at the end of the year for residential customers, every six months for small to mid-size commercial customers, and quarterly for large industrial and agricultural customers.

Killigrew says for a year’s worth of generation charges, residential customers could save $10-40 with the rebate.

He hopes the more customers, the bigger the rebate.

“Unifying the Central Coast under one banner program where all residents, businesses farmers can benefit from our savings and our programs, the choice and also having a voice at the table of how to shape the energy,” said Killigrew.

The energy source will change, but the existing investor-owned utility provider (PG&E) will stay the same for billing and repair purposes.

Currently, there are 19 CCE’s in California that serve nearly 10 million customers.

From the 275,000 customers in San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties as well as several incorporated cities, MBCP estimates over $8 million in bill savings in 2019.

San Luis Obispo will be one of the first local cities to reap the benefits locally next year.

“Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and address the causes of climates change and also saving a little be of money,” said Chris Read, the San Luis Obispo sustainability director.

New services for SLO and Morro Bay will begin January of 2020.

Grover Beach city leaders say it’s a step closer to meeting the city’s sustainability goals.

“One of our major goals is environmental sustainability and why not start with energy,” said Jeff Lee, Grover Beach mayor.

All eligible PG&E customers will be enrolled for the new service if the city is accepted to the program.

However, CCE is not mandatory and customers can opt-out and stay with a bundled service if they wish.

The city of Santa Maria and Paso Robles are also considering making the switch at their city council meetings Tuesday night.