SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Central Coast cities are switching to renewable energy. San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay are the first local municipalities joining Monterey Bay Community Power in January 2020. Other cities are expected to 'flip the switch' next year.
The program promises millions of dollars in cost savings while using clean energy.
“The City of San Luis Obispo has the most ambitious carbon neutrality goal of any city in the United States, and Monterey Bay Community Power is one of our mechanisms for getting there," said San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon.
SLO City has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2035, ahead of California's goal of 2045.
“It's a win-win for everybody," said Harmon. "It's good for our economy, it's good for our climate action goals, and it's also good in terms of local choice.”
The new program provides two plan options.
“The first one is MB Choice, that is the default product," said Monterey Bay Community Power spokesman, J.R Killigrew. "It's carbon-free, that comes at a savings. And then we have MB prime for folks who wanna support this movement in the state of California to 100% renewable energy.”
The new utility partnered with PG&E, which will continue the billing, delivery, and maintenance of the power grid.
“Everything stays the same, except for you're gonna have a new page on your bill that has MBCP generation charges," said Killigrew. "Those replace PG&E generation charges but it just so happens to be at a lower cost.”
The company says the average customer will save around $10 a month.
“We expect businesses, because they use more energy, [to save] even more –hundreds, up to $1,000 savings per month," said Harmon.
It is projected to bring big savings for the city of SLO, too.
“We expect to have $1 million savings just in the year 2020, and over $9 million over the next five years," said the mayor.
Harmon says the new savings will be used to address what she calls environmental justice.
“We wanna make sure that folks who are in lower income communities have access to things like solar panels, electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging, and all of those types of things.”
In light of statewide Public Safety Power Shut-offs due to fire danger, MBCP says it is also investing $25 million to build generators in local communities.
“So if a city government, waste water treatment plant, a school, a hospital, a healthcare facility, needs to have critical load serve if the power goes out, we are gonna be here to help build that for them," said Killigrew.
Customers can opt out of this service at any time.
“If they decide to opt out after their enrollment window – if folks are enrolling this month in January, they probably have until early April or so to make a decision whether they want to stay with us or not. But if they decide to opt out in the future, there's a small administrative fee to handle basically sending the customer back to PG&E," said Killigrew.
Other cities in SLO County, the County of Santa Barbara, and the cities of Santa Maria, Solvang, Guadalupe, Carpinteria, and Goleta will be joining Monterey Bay Community Power in 2021.