Community questions for Valley Clean Energy addressed at September's City Council meeting

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While the City Council mostly asked about the possibility of a change in rates should Winters join Valley Clean Energy (VCE), council members and citizens asked the utility’s representatives to address miscellaneous questions and concerns at the Tuesday, Sept. 3 meeting. Mayor Bill Biasi and Mayor Pro Tempore Wade Cowan wanted to know more about VCE’s future plans, and several community members got up to address their specific concerns.

Biasi asked VCE’s Interim General Manager Mitch Sears about net energy metering, the incentive that allows people with solar panels to send excess power back to the grid in return for credits. Sears said that VCE will begin enrolling net energy metering customers at the start of 2020. Should Winters join VCE the change will not happen until 2021, but even now the inclusion of net energy metering households will increase VCE customers by 7,000 members.

The mayor also asked if VCE has anything similar PG&E’s time of use policy. Time of use plans offer different rates for energy usage at different times during the week, such as lower rates during non-peak times.

Sears said that while they do not have such a policy in place at this time, the board will be considering adopting a policy that matches PG&E’s at an upcoming meeting. Should they adopt such a policy it could go into effect for residential customers in February 2021.

Should Winters join VCE, the City would add two members to the utility’s board.

Cowan asked Sears if VCE is considering building an energy storage facility. He alluded to such a facility that is being built in Vacaville, which he says is taking up a large number of acres.

Sears said that while VCE is not looking into contracts of that scale, they are considering the potential for energy storage. The company needs to have enough energy available to serve the maximum potential load, Sears explained, and this energy could come in the form of a gas fire power plant or hydroelectricity, or in the form of stored energy.

Community member Abigail Vargas used the time for public comments to ask if VCE was purchasing the energy on the open market and if those markets are local or out-of-state. Sears said that while they prioritized Yolo County markets, they did not find what they needed in the region. For now most of the energy that VCE purchases comes from San Joaquin County and the northwest of the United States. He said that they will send out a second solicitation that focuses specifically on Yolo County.

Kate Laddish asked if VCE has a policy similar to PG&E’s medical baseline for people who need electricity to do things like charge medical scooters or provide heating and cooling. VCE’s representatives said that yes, VCE honors those systems.

Should the timeline continue as planned, VCE will come before the council again on Tuesday, Oct. 1. There are no more meetings in September, as several council members will be out of town.

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