EBCE Launches New Rate Incentive Program for Businesses
If you are a Fremont business or resident who pays close attention to your utility bills, you may have noticed a change late last year. The East Bay now has a new energy provider—East Bay Community Energy (EBCE)—who is supplying cleaner and (modestly) cheaper power to businesses and residents throughout the region.
EBCE was formed by the City of Fremont along with ten other cities and Alameda County to offer lower electricity rates and cleaner power. Fremont Mayor Lily Mei serves on EBCE’s Board of Directors. Since 2018, businesses in Fremont have enjoyed 1.5% savings on the electric generation portion of their PG&E bills by receiving service from EBCE. Now, EBCE is offering medium and large businesses with A10, E19, or E20 accounts the opportunity to save considerably more money in exchange for reducing their energy use between 2-6 p.m. on up to 15 summer days.
This Demand Response program is an optional incentive that offers businesses the opportunity to receive a rebate in exchange for responding to price signals during the Peak Pricing Event Days between May and October, typically occurring on the hottest days of the summer (up to 15 designated days). EBCE will notify customers the afternoon prior to a “peak” event day determined by a very high day-ahead price of electricity. Participating businesses that help EBCE avoid the need to buy expensive power on those days will receive a share of EBCE’s savings. In addition to the usual 1.5% savings EBCE business customers receive all summer, customers that have low usage during those Peak Pricing Day afternoons will receive a check from EBCE at the end of the summer season.
EBCE’s program matches PG&E’s “Peak Day Pricing” program structure and incentives, while providing rate protection for participants. Additionally, there is no risk to participating; enrolled customers that perform well on event days will receive a check, and customers that do not perform well on event days will not receive a check. Incentive payments can get into the tens of thousands of dollars for high energy users.
EBCE is a relatively new type of energy provider called a community choice aggregator (CCA). CCAs were enabled under Assembly Bill 117 in 2002, and over the past few years have been forming across the state, as the costs of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power have decreased. The majority or Bay Area residents and businesses are now covered by a CCA. Under program rules, existing PG&E customers were automatically transferred over to EBCE customers. PG&E still provides the transmission of electricity and the billing; however EBCE now procures electricity on the wholesale market on behalf of its approximately 568,000 customers and set its own prices.
So what’s the advantage of EBCE? Well, unlike an investor-owned utility, EBCE does not have a mandate to maximize its profits. Instead, it can use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate higher amounts of solar, wind, and hydroelectricity while providing costs that are less than what customers would have been paying with PG&E. As a result, businesses can now take credit for sourcing cleaner electricity with no changes to their billing or power reliability.
EBCE is positioned to move our region toward a sustainable future. As we look ways to reduce emissions and improve grid resiliency, we will continue working with the Fremont Economic Development team on ways to expand our offerings and value to Fremont businesses. In the meantime, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.