Board dedicates $3 million for low-income customer bill relief
Sunnyvale, Calif. – New electric generation rates for Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) will take effect starting March 1, 2022, following the implementation of PG&E’s latest rate change. While electric rates are increasing, SVCE customers will continue to receive a one-percent discount to PG&E generation rates. This discount, inclusive of PG&E’s added fees, has been the same for customers for the past couple of years and aligns with the agency’s commitment to maintaining rates competitive to PG&E.
In parallel, the SVCE Board of Directors voted to dedicate $17M to ‘double down’ on community decarbonization programs and $3M for credits to lower-income CARE/FERA customers to help offset the impact of increased energy prices.
From 2021 to 2022, PG&E electric and gas rates have increased for customers, with electric rates rising 18.5% and gas prices increasing 22%. The increase in energy prices is largely due to supply and demand issues for natural gas, exacerbated from political instability impacting Europe. In addition, domestic energy demand fell during the pandemic and has since rebounded faster than supply. Other factors driving the increases include wildfire mitigation and drought conditions across the western U.S, affecting hydroelectric generation. Many customers are currently experiencing higher than average winter energy bills due to the spike in natural gas prices.
“The SV Clean Energy Board of Directors understands that customers are experiencing increased costs and still dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic,” said Liz Gibbons, SVCE Board Chair. “We hope that the financial help we can give to our most vulnerable customers provides some relief, while we also balance the importance of maintaining a good financial standing to fund our regional decarbonization efforts.”
Last year, SVCE had to dip into its financial reserves when PG&E’s generation rates decreased, and the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), a fee SVCE customers pay to PG&E, increased significantly. Adding to the impact, the agency experienced a rise in customer bill arrearages caused by the pandemic’s economic impacts and higher energy costs due to natural gas price surges and increased competition for hydropower. The situation proved how important it is to have financial reserves available to help maintain costs and offer competitive customer rates since SVCE did not increase rates above PG&E to make up for the impact.
Since launching in 2017, SVCE has saved customers $77 million on their electricity bills while exceeding state clean energy procurement mandates. SVCE spends ninety-two cents of every dollar on power supply and reinvests net revenues in the community. Nearly $45 million has been dedicated to energy programs, such as customer offers and services to help local electrification efforts. Annually, SVCE provides $100,000 in sponsorships to local community organizations and offers $70,000 in education funding and scholarships. In 2020, the SVCE board allocated $10 million to customer and community relief from COVID-19 financial impacts.
In addition to the direct bill relief SVCE will provide to income-qualified customers, PG&E and the state have several financial assistance programs available. To learn more, visit svcleanenergy.org/financial-assistance.
About Silicon Valley Clean Energy
Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a not-for-profit, community-owned agency providing clean electricity from renewable and carbon-free sources to more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers in 13 Santa Clara County jurisdictions. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates competitive and promote clean energy programs. Silicon Valley Clean Energy advances innovative solutions to fight climate change by decarbonizing the grid, transportation, and buildings. Learn more at SVCleanEnergy.org.
Pamela Leonard, Communications Manager
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