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Community Choice Aggregation – Marin Clean Energy, CA

| Written by ILSR Admin | 1 Comment | Updated on Sep 1, 2010 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

The Marin Clean Energy Authority was formed in December 2008 to serve the City of Belvedere, Town of Fairfax, County of Marin, City of Mill Valley, Town of San Anselmo, City of San Rafael, City of Sausalito, Town of Tiburon, and over 30 unincorporated communities in Marin County, California.  The Marin Clean Energy community choice aggregation program will provide electricity services in two tiers to ratepayers in these communities, a Light Green and Deep Green service.  Over 7,500 customers have already been switched to the MCE program in Phase I and Phase II connecting the remaining customers will be activated in 2011.

The two levels of service, Light Green and Deep Green, provide differing levels of renewable energy.  The Light Green service starts at 25% renewable and will increase to 50% renewable energy by 2015, at prices comparable to PG&E (the previous utility service).  The Deep Green service provides 100% renewable energy at a premium of $0.01 per kilo-watt hour (kWh).  For comparison, PG&E supplied 14% of its electricity from renewable energy in 2008.

Bringing service online for Marin Clean Energy involved a political fight with PG&E, which spent $35 million on a ballot measure campaign to torpedo it and other community choice aggregation programs.  The measure, Proposition 16, would have required CCAs to get a two-thirds vote of approval from citizens.  The measure was defeated in June 2010.


Photo credit: Joe Verrengia


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  • Sandy LeonVest

    While it is a good thing that Marin County managed to break away from mega-utility PG&E to form its own CCA, Marin Clean Energy’s (MCE) partnership with Shell Oil and more recently its decision to partner with EnXco, a wholly owned subsidiary of nuclear giant EDF, belies MCE’s PR spin, and doesn’t change the fact that MCE is a long way from creating a “new energy paradigm.” Instead, MCE has re-created the same old corporate energy model, and is now trying to propagate it throughout the state. A quick search of the records reveals that most of Marin’s “clean energy” mix (a vast majority of which is derived from large hydroelectric and LFGTE or landfill gas to energy), is not considered sustainable or even clean by reasonable environmental standards. Even relatively conservative groups like the Sierra Club and the NRDC oppose Landfill Gas to Energy (MCE’s latest “clean energy” source). As the good folks over at the New Rules Project well understand, local generation is key to sustainability, so it’s important that people understand that not one kilowatt of Marin’s “clean” energy is being generated locally.

    The question no one seems to ask is actually the most obvious one: Why, when our communities have so much to gain from generating our own (real) decentralized power, and so much to lose if big energy corporations continue to control our energy resources, don’t we just begin it — damn the torpedos, local politicos and their corporate sponsors … ?

    The problem with abdicating power (and our energy futures) to local politicians and mega-corporations (as with MCE/MEA model), is that, in doing so, we re-create the same overly-centralized, corporate energy model that needs to be abandoned. As the IEA report makes clear, climate change is accelerating — We don’t have time for incremental (corporate-lead) “transitions.” The battle we are fighting comes down to this: Who will ultimately own (and control) this country’s resources? As long as Americans continue to act like mindless consumers, allowing corporate-bankrolled politicians to “take care of things,” it certainly won’t be us.

    When it comes to corporations, there are certain basic tenets essential to their financial success.

    1) Corporations, in order to survive, must grow. They either grow or they die. That’s simply the nature of the beast.

    That’s where Marin Clean Energy (MCE)/Marin Energy Authority (MEA) comes in.

    Being an entirely corporate venture, it’s not surprising that MCE/MEA is now attempting to “grow its model,” via its offshoot, known as the Local Energy Aggregation Network (LEAN). Never mind, that MCE/MEA has not yet come close to fulfilling its promise (or promises) here in Marin.

    2) Corporations uinderstand that it is far more advantageous to spend their time, energy and budget on marketing and promoting their product than on actually improving it.

    So, here again, it’s understandable that even though MCE has very little legitimately “clean energy” in its portfolio, and that it still does not generate as much as one kilowatt of electricity locally, it would continue to promote itself as “clean, green and local.”

    3) Corporations understand that as long as citizens are willing to abdicate their power, as long as we are content to “do nothing,” (as MCE urges us to do in one of its glossy brochures), as long as we remain stuck in the role of “consumers,” they will continue to rule the day — not to mention, own the resources and control the power.

    So, that would explain why MCE/MEA’s PR folks continue to greenwash its customers, and make absurdly false claims, as when its proponents publicly insisted that “green electricity would come out of our light sockets.”