Silicon Valley
Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley, California (Credit: Credit: iStock/Michael Vi)

Silicon Valley residents have greater access to cleaner energy compared to the rest of California and the rest of the country, says The Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies.

Its comparative analysis of local sources of power by emission intensity found that three community choice energy (CCE) programs now serve 89% of the area’s residential customers and 69% of non-residential customers.

Comparatively, PG&E provides bundled energy, transmission and distribution service to less than 5% of area customers, illustrating a dramatic shift over the last three years when PG&E served 91% of customers across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“Nearly ninety percent of Silicon Valley’s energy customers are now purchasing their electricity from community choice energy programs,” said Rachel Massaro, vice president and director of research, Joint Venture’s Institute for Regional Studies.

“That transition happened in less than three years, and it effectively reduced the region’s overall carbon dioxide emissions from electricity by about 64%.” Massaro added.

The Institute’s analysis shows the scale of emissions reductions in relation to the procurement of 100% carbon-free power from renewable resources and hydroelectric power generation. This includes sources such as solar and wind from within California, as well as the western power grid, and are much cleaner than the traditional sources such as coal, natural gas and others. These cleaner forms of energy are a large and growing part of the portfolio of Silicon Valley’s energy providers such as PG&E, municipal utilities, and CCE programs.

As a result, all of the power provided to Silicon Valley electric customers have a fraction of the emissions intensity of the U.S. grid average and much cleaner than the state’s average residual emissions intensity. With that in mind, PG&E has not been sitting by idly. Their 2017 emissions intensity factor has declined by 67% over the last 10 years.

All electricity consumers in Silicon Valley receive power that is sourced by investor-owned utility PG&E, municipal utilities Silicon Valley Power and Palo Alto Utilities, or one of the local public agencies sourcing clean electricity such as Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and San Jose Clean Energy. Other parts of Silicon Valley are served by Monterey Bay Community Power and East Bay Community Energy.

Eight states have allowed CCEs (or Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)), including California, which so far has 19 throughout the state. With the rise of CCE programs and the fact that PG&E – which recently filed for bankruptcy due to possible liability stemming from the California wildfires – delivers newly sourced energy to Silicon Valley customers, it still considers most electricity users in the area its customers. The utility also provides meter reading, billing, customer service and maintenance services.

“The availability of clean electricity options locally is made possible, in large part, by the commitment of our communities and the leadership of our energy providers, in addition to the state’s role in advancing renewable energy and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels,” says Massaro.

The dramatic shift in market share in Silicon Valley appears to portend what lies ahead in other deregulated states, as CCE creation grows rapidly and regulated states take notice.

Besides being a lead writer for Energy Pages, Ernie is a marketing and communications professional with over 25 years of industrial, manufacturing and energy experience, providing strategic solutions to small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. In addition to launching 2 startups, Martin’s resume includes tenures at several well-known brands, including Georgia Pacific, Tungsten Network, Delta Airlines, Kimberly-Clark and the Centers for Disease Control. He is also the founder of Receivable Savvy and has chaired the Federal Reserve Bank’s Vendor Forum from 2017 to 2019.

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