Renewable Energy comes to the East Bay

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.

A graphic showing the three options provided by East Bay Community Energy: Bright Choice (38% renewable, 47% hydroelectric, and 15% conventional), Brilliant 100 (40% renewable and 60% hydroelectric), and Renewable 100 (100% renewable, from mainly wind and solar).
The three electricity choices from East Bay Community Energy.

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.

Default enrollment categories from East Bay Community Energy for various cities in the East Bay

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.

A pie chart showing Green-e energy sources for 2015; 89% is from wind, and the remainder is from biomass, solar, hydro, and geothermal
Green-e energy sources for 2015

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.

13 thoughts on “Renewable Energy comes to the East Bay

  1. Currently, only Bright Choice is cheaper than PG&E, but I believe the prices will go down if more people choose EBCE plans.:)

    1. I think so too. The prices from Marin Clean Energy, which dluber mentioned below, has reduced its rates two years in a row. Amazing that you can now buy greener energy at cheaper prices than conventional PG&E electricity.

  2. If you live in Contra Costa County, you can select Marin Clean Energy (MCE) as your electricity provider, they offer a choice of “Light Green” (50% renewable), “Deep Green” (100%) or Local Solar power.
    Their rates are competitive with PG&E. Note that PG&E will still charge you for delivery since they own the distribution system.

    1. Hi Willow! I looked up NM on the green-e site and it suggested Exel Energy – they sell buy blocks of electricity generated from wind. Not quite as convenient as a community program but it might be worth checking out.

Leave a Reply