Learn how SJCE’s innovative project is contributing to grid reliability

This year, the United States has witnessed the increasing impacts of climate change with stronger storms and record flooding. In California alone, we’ve had higher than average temperatures, leading to potential power outages, and wildfires that have caused devastation throughout the state. As a Community Choice Energy provider, our goal is to fight back against the impacts of climate change by providing cleaner energy at competitive rates and finding solutions to improve grid reliability.

In the spring of 2020 we partnered with developer Terra-Gen on an innovative power purchase agreement that will improve grid reliability and reduce the need for rolling outages. This innovative 12-year agreement will provide 62 MW of renewable energy by the end of 2021. The unique format of this agreement guarantees the delivery of 62 MW of renewable energy between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. every day. That is sixteen hours of clean reliable energy seven days a week. This will help meet demand in the late afternoon and evening hours when electricity use is high but renewable energy availability is typically low. Providing renewable energy during these hours reduces reliance on natural gas, this in turn improves air quality and reduces asthma and other respiratory symptoms or illnesses.

To meet this obligation, Terra-Gen will build more than 100 MW of new solar energy and new battery storage right here in California with union labor. We are investing in renewable energy for a healthier, livable planet for our future generations. Projects like this help us meet our climate and reliability goals to deliver clean energy while reducing electricity costs for our customers.

For information about this exciting project, read our press release. 

Synaptics headquarters to be powered by 100% renewable energy through TotalGreen

San José Clean Energy is excited to welcome Synaptics as our newest TotalGreen corporate partner. Synaptics recently announced their decision to power their San José headquarters with 100% renewable energy through SJCE’s TotalGreen service.

The partnership with SJCE is part of Synpatics’ greater sustainability goals. The company is committed to increasing use of renewable energy to 50% across its global facilities by 2022. In addition, Synaptics recently upgraded their HVAC systems, increased temperature in their datacenters, and converted to LED lighting to reduce building energy consumption.

SJCE is thrilled to see demand for renewable energy from our large corporate customers, despite the economic impacts of COVID-19. Late last year, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and eBay also announced their decision to upgrade service to TotalGreen. Partnerships between local government and the private sector are critical in the development of new renewable energy resources. These partnerships are one of our most important tools in fighting climate change and creating a livable planet for future generations.

SJCE’s TotalGreen electric service sources renewable, emission free energy from solar generation. TotalGreen is a simple, cost-effective way for companies to reduce their impact on the planet. Residential customers can also upgrade their SJCE electric service to TotalGreen. Choosing TotalGreen costs the average home about $5 more per month, about the same as a cup of coffee. Visit our website to learn more.

Fast Charger

New $14M EV charging station incentive project launches in San José

San José Clean Energy has partnered with the California Energy Commission’s California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) to offer $14 million in incentive funding to increase electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in our city. Starting December 16, 2020, businesses, commercial property owners, and multifamily residences in San José can apply for significant rebates on eligible Level 2 and DC Fast charging equipment and installation costs.

The project will fund approximately 1,400 Level 2 connectors and 100 DC Fast chargers in San José. At least 25% of incentive funds will be distributed to installations in low-income and disadvantaged communities to further improve access to this infrastructure and move the needle on EV adoption. CALeVIP’s program administrator, Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), will also provide technical assistance to multifamily residences and properties located in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Applications open on December 16, 2020. Project funding is expected to be in high demand, so applicants are encouraged to prepare ahead of time and apply quickly. To learn more about the application process, visit the Peninsula-Silicon Valley Incentive Project page.

For more information about this exciting project, read our press release.

Wind turbines

Op-ed: Bay Area CCAs are fighting the real blackout culprit — climate change

Three local elected officials and board members of Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) – Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, and San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine – wrote an op-ed on September 2 about the importance of investing in renewable energy and battery storage technologies to fight climate change, the real cause of August’s rolling blackouts.

Bay Area CCAs are taking comprehensive action to achieve our climate goals and improve local resilience. While our agencies were formed to serve our local communities, we are also working on solutions to help transition to a cleaner, more reliable power grid statewide.

Learn more about these solutions by reading the op-ed.

power lines

Op-ed: San José Mayor and L.A. Supervisor Call for CPUC “Exit Fee” Reform

In an op-ed published today in the San Francisco Chronicle, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo and Los Angeles County Supervisor Shiela Kuehl urge the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to reduce costs for all by holding investor-owned utilities (PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric) accountable by enforcing transparency.

Read the op-ed

Solar Panels Field in the Desert

SJCE Signs Two Long-Term Power Purchase Agreements with Terra-Gen

We are proud to announce that we’ve signed two long-term agreements with developer Terra-Gen for more than 162 megawatts (MW) of new solar plus battery storage! Together, the projects will produce enough renewable electricity to power nearly 79,000 homes and have the same climate impact as taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

These agreements mark our second and third long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). Both projects will be built in Kern County with union labor.

  • A 15-year PPA that will bring 100 MW of new solar energy to San José and will be operational by the end of 2022.
  • A 12-year PPA that will provide 62 MW of renewable energy and will be operational by the end of 2021. The unique format of this agreement guarantees the delivery of 62 MW of renewable energy between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. every day. This will help meet demand in the late afternoon and evening hours, when electricity use is high but renewable energy availability is typically low. To meet this obligation, Terra-Gen will build more than 100 MW of new solar energy and new battery storage.

Here’s how this news will impact our customers:

  • Investing in pollution-free renewable energy that helps meet the high electricity demand in the late afternoon and evening reduces reliance on local natural gas “peaker” plants that emit harmful pollutants. There are documented health benefits associated with the cleaner air that renewable energy helps us achieve, such as decreased asthma and other respiratory issues.
  • Long-term agreements offer power at a lower price than short-term ones, so SJCE operational costs will decrease. Also, renewable energy prices have fallen drastically over the last years, to the point that the average total cost to build and operate renewables is often lower than fossil fuels. Since we’re a government agency, we are not-for-profit and have no shareholders. That means the savings from this contract will be passed directly to our customers— you! — in the form of lower rates.
  • We know our customers want more renewable energy. Our base service, GreenSource, is sourced 45% from renewable energy, 6% more than PG&E’s standard mix, at rates 1% lower than PG&E. Going forward, SJCE expects to sign more contracts like these to meet customer demand. SJCE is on track to meet our Climate Smart San José goal to make GreenSource 100% carbon-neutral by 2021.

For more information, read our press release.

Learn about our first PPA with EDP Renewables.

Save energy website photo

Resources to help you save on your electricity bill

As more of us work from home during the COVID-19 emergency, we’re using more electricity. We have outlined cost-saving resources for San José residents to help protect against higher bills.

Finding the best rate plan for your household

Higher usage of electronics and appliances can lead to an increase in electricity bills. It may be a worthwhile exercise to use PG&E’s Rate Comparison Tool to assess the most cost-effective electricity rate plan for your household.

94% of SJCE residential customers are on tiered rate plans (e.g., E-1), where the price of electricity is based on how much is used. If a customer uses more than their allotted electricity allowance during the billing period, additional usage is charged at multiple, higher priced tiers.

The remaining 6% of residents are on time-of-use (TOU) plans, where the price of electricity is based on when it’s used. About 75% of San José residents are projected to save money on TOU plans compared to tiered plans. TOU plans better align customer pricing with the cost of procuring electricity. Higher cost, “peak” periods fall from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. when demand is high and less renewable energy is available.

Staying at home can present an opportunity to have more control over your electricity usage and bill. TOU rates may be a good option for those who can shift their appliance usage before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m.

SJCE rate plan options mirror PG&E’s. You can compare your usage on different plans and choose a new rate plan at pge.com; PG&E will communicate your selection to us.

State-funded monthly discount programs

The California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE) and Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA) are two State-funded programs that offer electricity bill discounts to income-qualified households. SJCE customers are eligible for these discount programs and must apply and reapply through PG&E, who administers CARE and FERA for Santa Clara County.

CARE customers receive a monthly discount of 30-35% on electricity and 20% on gas. In order to qualify, customers must meet income guidelines or be enrolled in public assistance programs. Customers must renew eligibility every two years or every four years if customer is on a fixed income.

FERA customers receive a monthly discount up to 18% on electricity only. This discount is specifically for households of three or more people who meet income guidelines. Customers must renew eligibility every two years.

Customers who have recently lost their jobs or are recently unemployed may qualify for CARE and FERA programs due to COVID-19.

Learn more about these discounts and how to apply on our Discount Programs webpage.

Federally funded one-time assistance

The Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is federally funded program administered by Sacred Heart Community Service in Santa Clara County. LIHEAP offers income-eligible households (renters and homeowners) a one-time credit to their utility bill, ranging from $173 to $289 per calendar year. This is a non-emergency program as it may take about 6-8 weeks for payment to be awarded. Customers must apply through Sacred Heart.

The amount of LIHEAP assistance is calculated based on household size, household income, and other factors considered including funding availability and the cost of energy within the county where the household resides. Families with elderly, disabled, or young residents in the dwelling are encouraged to apply.

Additional Resources

Learn more about free energy efficiency programs by visiting San José Clean Energy’s Energy Savings webpage. This information is also available in Spanish and Vietnamese. Please note that some of these services, such as home audits and other activities that require home visits, may be temporarily halted as a response to the COVID-19 emergency and stay-at-home order.

There are certain steps that we can take to save energy and keep bills lower as we spend more time at home, such as:

  • Using natural lighting by opening blinds or curtains to reduce the need to turn on lamps and overhead lighting.
  • Plugging into a smart power strip so that unused devices don’t consume electricity.
  • Wearing layers or using a blanket to reduce the need to use a heating system on colder days and evenings.
  • On warmer days, opening windows and “pre-cooling” our homes during the cooler evenings and mornings to alleviate the need to use air conditioning.
  • Air drying and washing only full loads of dishes and clothes to run large appliances less frequently.

For more energy-related resources and content, follow @SJCleanEnergy on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

SJCE Power Mix Graphic

GreenSource gets cleaner in 2020, rates remain 1% below PG&E

At their meeting on December 10, the San José City Council approved SJCE staff recommendations to make GreenSource 86% carbon-free in 2020 (up from 80% in 2019) while keeping rates 1% below PG&E standard service. Council also approved to enroll residential and small rooftop solar (Net Energy Metering, NEM) customers in four phases beginning April 2020 and waive opt out fees.

2020 Power mix and rates

Council approved a power mix of at least 86% carbon-free energy and at least 45% renewable energy for GreenSource, our base product offering, beginning January 1, 2020. Despite a 6% increase in carbon-free energy, SJCE will maintain the 1% rate discount relative to PG&E. This rate discount is after accounting for the Franchise Fee and Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA). TotalGreen, our premium service offering 100% renewable energy, will continue to cost an additional $0.005-0.01 per kWh more than GreenSource.

Enrollment of rooftop solar customers

Approximately 20,000 rooftop solar customers will receive the benefits of SJCE service following the Council approval of a staff proposal to begin NEM enrollment in April 2020. Customer enrollment will take place in quarterly phases from April 2020 to January 2021, and it will be based upon their PG&E true-up dates to minimize customer confusion and potential loss of credits.

Customers will receive four enrollment notices in the mail – two in the 60 days before services starts and two reminders in the 60 days after service has begun. Staff will also host informational meetings so customers can learn more about SJCE’s NEM program. To learn more, visit our rooftop solar webpage.

Waiving opt out fees

Fees to opt out of our service will be waived starting January 1, 2020. Under current SJCE policy, customers who opt-out later than 180 days after service commences are charged $5 per residential meter and $25 per non-residential meter. SJCE staff recommended waiving opt-out fees because the fees are an irritant to customers that make them less inclined to return to SJCE service in the future.

Fast Charger

SJCE announces $14M incentive project for EV charging stations

On Tuesday, October 22, the San José City Council voted to allow San José Clean Energy (SJCE) to participate in the California Energy Commission’s California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project and contribute $4 million in matching funds to the Energy Commission’s proposed $10 million allocation for San José. The project will fund the installation of new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in public, workplace, and multi-family housing locations over the next two to four years.

The investment will essentially double the current level of public charging stations by adding approximately 100 Direct Current Fast Charging (CDFC) stations and 1,400 Level 2 charging stations. DCFC, or “supercharging,” stations can charge a vehicle to around an 80% charge in about 20-30 minutes, while Level 2 chargers can provide approximately 20-40 miles of charge per hour. With San José’s high rate of EV adoption, the investment will help meet current demand for charging while helping spur further expansion of EV usage.

“Because of these funds, residents can look forward to an increased availability of EV charging,” said Lori Mitchell, Director of San José Clean Energy. “Adding charging options in convenient locations will make EVs accessible for those unable to charge at home. This, in turn, will support a continued increase in EV adoption, improving local air quality for everyone, especially those living along busy roads and freeways.”

Since low-income and disadvantaged communities typically have lower EV adoption, applicants from these communities will receive additional incentive funding for charger installations. SJCE staff have recommended to the CEC to structure the funding such that at least 25% of the charging stations be installed in these communities.

San José’s allocation is part of a larger regional investment that could see up to $60 million invested in new EV charging infrastructure in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. SJCE worked collaboratively with four local government energy agencies – Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Power (City of Santa Clara), and City of Palo Alto Utilities – to apply for the CEC funding.

One of California’s climate goals is to get 5 million EVs on the road by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions and support those vehicles by installing 250,000 chargers statewide. CALeVIP works to address regional needs for EV charging infrastructure throughout California, while also supporting the state’s goals to improve air quality, fight climate change and reduce petroleum use.

The project is expected to launch in fall 2020 where the funds will be available for two to four years. Businesses, non-profits, and public agencies can apply for the funding, install the charging infrastructure, and receive a rebate for their eligible costs according to the project guidelines. Additionally, the CEC selected the non-profit Center for Sustainable Energy to administer and promote the program.

For more information about electric vehicles and incentive programs, view our press release or visit our EV webpage.