Renewable electricity service launches in tri-county area


(Bruce McPherson, Santa Cruz County Supervisor (third from left), throws a mock power switch on Thursday in Santa Cruz at the launch of the second phase of Monterey Bay Community Power’s 100 percent renewable residential service for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. Trina Coffman-Gomez (from left), Watsonville Councilmember and MBCP Policy Board member, Tom Habashi, CEO of Monterey Bay Community Power, and David Terrazas, Santa Cruz mayor, are also shown. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — An upbeat ceremony was staged Thursday in Santa Cruz to commemorate the launch of Monterey Bay Community Power’s residential service in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.

The launch is the second phase of MBCP’s 100 percent renewable electrical service while in March the same company began offering renewable energy to commercial, agriculture and industrial companies in the same tri-county area.

"We are here to recognize the residential service launch of our program,” said Bruce McPherson, Santa Cruz County Supervisor and MBCP Policy Board chairman. “Now we are going to serving more 750,000 residents in our tri-county area. This is the most significant public service operation that I have been associated with in my public service life. MBCP is the first agency of its type in California to launch as a tri-county operation including counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey and 16 cities. It really is what I call a three-for: We are going to be able to provide carbon-free energy, electrical energy to our customers at a lower cost than you have been associated with; and we have a local government operation of a policy board and an advisory board. This has been a team sport operation. We have come a long way."

McPherson said the operation has been underway for the past five years.

The renewable electric power comes from throughout the western U.S. from wind, solar and hydro energy.

McPherson said Pacific Gas & Electric customers can expect a three percent rebate by the end of the year for residential and commercial users and that homeowners do not “have to do a thing” to get the reduced service. Customers can, however, opt out of the service if they choose by checking a box on their PG&E bill.

MBCP is a Community Choice Energy agency established by local communities to source carbon-free electricity for Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties while retaining PG&E’s traditional role in delivering power and maintaining electric infrastructure.

"It’s not every day a new electricity company comes to our community to offer us a choice,” said Trina Coffman-Gomez, Watsonville City Councilwoman and MBCP Policy Board member. “I’ve been a great supporter since 2013 when it first came to our city council. The residents across the tri-county area will be the beneficiaries of this partnership and we will look for ways to put money back into your pockets."

Over the next three years, MBCP estimates providing more than $40 million back to ratepayers not only in customer rebates but other investments being made in programs and incentives to further the goals of a cleaner environment.

“We have nearly $75 million that we are going to reinvest in our community within the next three years,” Coffman-Gomez said. “That’s a pretty big deal for us to do. I’ve been very proud to be a part of this process all along.”

For information, visit www.mbcommunitypower.org.

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