Everything You Need to Know about EBCE and Albany
Updated: Oct 4, 2018
Thanks to EBCE, Albany is more sustainable. But there's more you can do!
Recently the Albany City Council voted to default all of Albany's East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) customers (including municipal, commercial and residential) to EBCE's "Brilliant 100" 100% carbon free electrical energy. This has a lower carbon emission content than PG&E's default energy mix and is a critical action for meeting Albany's Climate Action Plan (CAP) goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 20% over 2004 amounts by 2020. This is a major accomplishment for which we can all be proud and which we all need to embrace in order to move forward to carbon neutrality by 2050.... but if you only read one answer to all of these commonly asked questions... read the final one…
So how does EBCE electrical power work?
All Albany businesses and city accounts have been enrolled in EBCE for electrical power effective in June 2018. Residential accounts will be enrolled in November 2018. (note: solar Net Energy Metering customers will switch over on their true-up date in 2019). This is for electrical power only and not gas. All delivery and billing is still done through PG&E and EBCE is partnered with PG&E to provide this more sustainably produced electrical power.
Doesn't EBCE Brilliant 100 electrical energy cost me more than my current PG&E rates?
NO!!!!!! EBCE is efficiently purchasing this power that is 100% carbon free and will not cost more than their current PG&E rates!!!
So why is there a 100% Sustainable option?
The 100% carbon free option (also know as "Brilliant 100") includes large hydro electric (big dams) energy production which is technically not considered renewable due to the environmental damage and impact caused by damming rivers. EBCE’s Renewable 100 electrical power option provides electrical energy that is 100% generated by truly sustainable sources - it is sourced from 50% solar and 50% wind, all from California. By creating a larger demand for this form of electrical energy, you are helping to create more sources of local sustainable energy production.
Hey, wait a minute! There's a cheaper EBCE option called Bright Choice! Why shouldn't I "opt down" to this plan and save money?
Good question. This provides a mix that still includes some carbon producing methods of creating electrical power in the mix. Although you may pay about 2% less than what your previous PG&E electrical bill was, you will still be contributing to global warming and your carbon foot print will not reduce along with all other residents of Albany that stay with Brilliant 100 or opt up to Renewable 100.
Hey, wait another minute: I'm on a limited income and get my power from PG&E at a reduced
rate, isn't EBCE costing me more?
NO!!!! EBCE will honor your current commitment with PG&E for reduced electrical power costs and provide your electrical power at the exact same reduced rate that PG&E does. If you receive a low-income discount on your electricity bill through PG&E’s CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline Allowance programs, that discount will continue to apply as an EBCE customer.
What a pain! Now I have another bill and more confusion!
ABSOLUTELY NOT! Billing will be done through PG&E and your electricity component will
look pretty much the same it will only be noted as coming from EBCE and indicate which plan
you are on.
I use so little electricity, why does it matter that I be so concerned about where it comes from?
Two reasons: 1.) By "inoculating" all of Albany to CO2 production in our electrical power
sources, we act as a community and have a much larger impact on achieving carbon
neutrality. Sure, as individuals we don't create much, but as a whole city we do. By accepting
the default or by opting up to Renewable 100, you are making an important commitment to
helping all of us address global warming. Remember, this is a problem we can not solve
alone nor avoid alone. It is only by acting together that we can make a significant impact. 2.)
The next step in reducing green house gasses like CO2 and methane is to "fuel switch" from
gas sources to electrical sources that are powered by sustainably produced electrical power.
By working together as a community and supporting EBCE, more effort and money will be
expended on developing methods of "fuel switching" so that more of our homes heating
sources (for hot water and interior comfort) will come from devices using electricity rather than
natural gas. Currently, gas is generally less expensive than electricity for providing energy for
water and home heat but by increasing the demand and production of sustainable electrical
power, we can change this dynamic and get the ball rolling on reducing our dependence on
fossil fuels in our homes.
But aren't cars and trucks that run on gasoline a bigger problem?
Absolutely, but only about half the overall problem. Still, going to more sustainable electrical
power helps here as more of Albany's citizens and business entities turn to electrical vehicles
(EV's) to provide their transportation needs. Already many Albany citizens have made the
switch to EVs and are driving zero emission vehicles around town making all or our air cleaner
and keeping tons of CO2 from going into the atmosphere. We will need more sustainably
generated electrical power to provide the electricity to all those new EVs otherwise they will
not reduce emissions as much as possible.
But isn't natural gas (or methane) "clean"?
It is cleaner than coal and oil fired electricity production but it still produces large amounts of
CO2. Also, methane is a much more environmentally harmful gas when released in the
atmosphere. It's heat trapping capabilities are about 30 times that of CO2. Just extracting
and piping millions of cubic feet of methane around leads to releases that contribute to global
warming. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and not extract them where they can be
released or burned and contribute to global climate change.
OK, I'm sold on EBCE electrical power but why opt up and pay a lot more for Renewable 100?
First of all, it isn't that much more for the average Albany resident, about $4 per month. That's
the cost of a Cappuccino at Hal's or Royal Grounds. But that extra contribution when added
across a large number of Albany residents can add thousands of dollars a year to sustainable
energy development and create a larger demand for these sources. As a society that lives
and dies by consumer demand and the free market system, we need to make a financial
commitment to these new cleaner sources of power if they are to compete on the market with
well established and subsidized fossil fuel sources. This is especially important now when
existing entities that are financially bound to fossil fuels are lobbying extensively to restrict
and undermine development of sustainable energy. We need to work as a community to
translate our determination and commitment to sustainable energy into dollars in the market.
We need to "put our money where our mouth is" and step up and support sustainable energy.
As fellow Albany citizens we salute you for your commitment to bettering not only Albany's
environment but providing a model that other small communities can follow and create a true
grass roots effort to combat global warming.
To enrolled in EBCE’s Renewable 100, you can visit https://ebce.org/opt-up/ or call EBCE’s call center at 1-833-699-EBCE (3223).