Napa County Agrees to Study Renewable Energy Option

Napa County may soon be taking a step toward joining a Marin County-based energy program that could offer residents in the unincorporated area access to 50 to 100 percent renewable energy.


At the January 28 Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors narrowly approved a $35,000 request from the director of Public Works to enter into an agreement with Marin Clean Energy (MCE) to conduct a rate and services analysis to determine if Napa County would be eligible to join MCE's existing community choice aggregation (CCA) program.  

CCAs act as an alternative energy provider to PG&E, giving consumers the option to purchase energy that is 50 to 100 percent generated from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, water, and biopower. The role of the CCA is to choose the sources of the power purchased and to create a mix that meets the goal of the program — providing clean energy — while offering customers a competitive price. Other aspects of PG&E services (such as power transmission and billing) continue for all customers. Consumers who are not interested in participating in the CCA may opt out and continue to use PG&E as before, with no changes. 

Marin Clean Energy is a CCA program — the first in California — that serves 125,000 customers in jurisdictions in Marin County as well as the East Bay city of Richmond. Although MCE’s charge for service appears on customers’ monthly PG&E bills, MCE is a publicly owned utility company that is an alternative to PG&E. It purchases energy supplies from producers in California, Oregon and Washington, then uses PGE’s grid to deliver those supplies to customers.

MCE also offers energy efficiency programs that could work in parallel with programs offered locally to provide financing and rebate options to consumers wishing to undertake energy efficiency projects. In addition, MCE works to encourage development of new, local, power sources, as it has done with a large solar project located at the San Rafael airport. Napa County programs such as the proposed bioenergy plant at the Clover Flat Landfill and a proposed solar array at the former American Canyon Landfill could potentially benefit.

The vote at the Board of Supervisors, which passed 3 to 2, authorizes staff to enter into an agreement with MCE to conduct a feasibility study to determine if Napa County is a good fit for MCE. The results of the study will be provided to both MCE's board, and the Board of Supervisors for a subsequent decision as to whether or not to enter into an operating agreement. If MCE is interested in bringing Napa County in and the Board of Supervisors opts to join the organization, the move would only affect residents in the unincorporated area and participation would be strictly voluntary.

Sustainable Napa County anticipates many questions will arise as a result of this study, and wants to help find answers to our community’s questions about the program. Please click here to submit your questions about CCA and MEA so that we can make sure to address them in the FAQ we are developing.

Napa County also took steps to join another renewable energy program in December, the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy program, which permits residential and commercial property owners to fund projects to develop renewable energy or increase energy and water-usage efficiency through their tax bills. The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in December that enrolls the county into the program, although it’s not expected to launch until later this year.

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