Community Choice energy company Marin Clean Energy held its final public workshop in conjunction with the City of Vacaville on Tuesday morning at the Ulatis Community Center.
This was the third MCE workshop in the city and the second one in-person. A Zoom workshop was on April 27 and the first in-person workshop was held on April 4 in Vacaville’s City Council Chambers.
In its February 28 meeting, the Vacaville City Council was briefed on MCE and what joining the community choice aggregation would look like for the city.
The Council will make a decision on whether to join MCE on June 13, with final adoption on June 27.
If the Council does decide to join, enrollment would not begin until Spring 2025. MCE is an opt-out model and does not get rid of PG&E service completely. PG&E would still be responsible for billing, energy delivery and natural gas.
MCE Senior Community Development Manager Sebastian Conn began the workshop with a presentation on MCE and how it works.
Conn and MCE Manager of Communications and Community Engagement Jenna Tenney then opened the room for questions and comments.
Topics of discussion from the public regarded how MCE employees are paid since they are a not-for-profit government agency, if PG&E employee discounts will still apply and how to view annual reports. Conn and Tenney say that all employee salaries are available on the MCE website, as are annual reports.
A difference between MCE and PG&E is that solar true-ups are billed monthly as opposed to yearly. Many solar customers voiced their questions and concerns during the meeting.
Other questions included if MCE’s energy is truly 100% renewable, why rates are not cheaper
since they are tax-exempt, how solar generation reimbursement works, if they have electric vehicle purchase rebates, and why their board of directors is made of solely elected officials.
An attendee asked if PG&E would raise rates due to MCE taking away some of their business. Tenney says PG&E rates are regulated by the state, plus PG&E is not legally allowed to make money from electricity generation.
If the city does opt-in to MCE next month, mailers will be sent out with cost comparisons between MCE and PG&E come 2025. There will also be more community meetings if Vacaville joins MCE.
Residents would have 60 days to opt-out of MCE service, however they can opt-out at any time after the 60 days for $5, which covers what PG&E charges MCE to return the account to solely PG&E service.
A concern was that the city and City Councilmembers have not done enough to get the word out about the Council’s upcoming decision.
“If this happens in 2025 and we send something out now that says you will need to opt-out in 2025, people will not remember,” said Vacaville Vice Mayor Jeanette Wylie. “First the City Council needs to say yes or no. Before any enrollment, anyone who gets an electric bill would get an insert twice before the deadline.”
The city currently has a MCE poll on their website for residents to answer about their interest in MCE. Results of that poll will be put on the staff report for the Council’s June 13 meeting.
Attendees also asked about how much they would be paid for their solar energy returning energy to the grid, how MCE is preparing for long-term trends such as less people using natural gas, as well as if Vacaville elected officials would be represented on MCE’s Board of Directors.
There were also concerns expressed about City Councilmembers getting to make decisions for everyone. Tenney says this is why MCE is an opt-out model, so all residents do ultimately get a choice of whether they do want to be serviced by MCE or not.
City officials say there will be public comment at the two City Council meetings on this subject, plus residents can also have their opinions heard by taking the MCE poll on the City of Vacaville website.
To learn more about MCE, visit https://www.ci.vacaville.ca.us/residents/mce and https://www.mcecleanenergy.org.
To take the City of Vacaville’s MCE poll, visit https://cityofvacaville.formstack.com/forms/mcepoll.
A recording of Tuesday’s meeting will be available on the City’s website soon. You can watch the April 4 meeting by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-znPBr4e1OU.