One of the top things that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch to a renewable electricity provider. In the East Bay (the cities across the bay from San Francisco, including Berkeley and Oakland) this has now become a lot easier! In fact, by default, electricity is now being provided by East Bay Community Energy (EBCE).
PG&E electricity sources: mainly conventional
Previously, residents received their electrical juice from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), who will continue to maintain the infrastructure for power delivery. In 2016, around 33% of electricity delivered by PG&E was from renewable sources – this includes hydroelectric power as well as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. The remaining 67% comes from conventional sources (coal, natural gas, and nuclear).
EBCE electricity sources: up to 100% renewable
EBCE is offering three options to choose from, as shown below. The cheapest option, Bright Choice, includes a mix of 38% renewable (wind, solar, biomass), 47% carbon-free (mainly hydroelectric) and the remaining 15% coming from conventional sources. It will actually be more sustainable and also slightly cheaper than the old mix provided by PG&E. The next level, Brilliant 100, does away with conventional power completely, comprising 40% renewable and 60% hydroelectric, and costs the same as the old PG&E supply. The most sustainable level, Renewable 100, is 100% renewable (mainly wind) and costs only 4% more than PG&E rates.
Default EBCE energy mix varies by city
Depending on which city you live in, you’ll be automatically enrolled in one of three levels. Berkeley and Oakland, for example, will convert from PG&E to the cheapest EBCE option, Bright Choice, while Piedmont residents will automatically receive Renewable 100 electricity. You can “opt up” to choose a more sustainable mix on the EBCE website.
How to find renewable energy providers
Wherever you live, you can search for renewable energy providers. Switching over will reduce your carbon footprint and also create more demand for renewable energy and a move away from coal-fired power plants. In the US, you can search for renewable power providers on the Green-e site. Green-e, which certifies the Renewable 100 electricity provided by the EBCE, publishes reports on their energy sources. The graph below, from their 2015 report, shows that almost 90% of the energy is provided by wind power.
So, in summary, this is a great step forward for East Bay residents, and an action that everyone around the world can look into taking.
My next post will tackle a commonly asked question: what are the top actions that you can take to reduce your carbon footprint? (Changing your electricity provider is one of them.) If you want to find out where most of your electricity is going, take a look at this post on calculating your domestic carbon footprint.