East Bay Community Energy to consider Nuclear Energy from PG&E?

As you know the Local Clean Energy Alliance is committed to advancing true, local clean energy resources and environmental justice.  “Carbon free” resources unfortunately mean Large Hydro Electric and/or Nuclear energy, neither of which are community or environmentally friendly. Learn more about Principles of Environmental Justice


On December 18, East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) will consider accepting “carbon free” energy from PG&E.  This proposal is 30% Hydro Electric and 70% Nuclear Energy. At the moment there is no nuclear in East Bay Community Energy’s power mix and many of us who advocated for Community Choice explicitly intended to have a “nuclear free” program.  


Of course it’s complicated...

This carbon free energy offer is somehow related to negotiations about the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) currently going on in California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Supposedly, PG&E is offering this allotment of energy for “free” because it has already been paid for through that exit fee, which customers pay when they become Community Choice customers. However, there is much that remains unclear. The final decision about the PCIA will not happen until late 2020. So we don’t know if this “offer” will set a precedent or indicate that we are willing to accept these allotments in exchange for increases in the PCIA? 


East Bay Community Energy CEO, Nick Chaset will present 3 options to EBCE’s Board of Directors on December 18 regarding this PG&E offer. They can accept the entire offer that is estimated to be worth $16M of “carbon free” energy, which would overturn the non-nuclear mandate that was assumed from the beginning for EBCE, and outrage many of the community organizations and customers who don’t want nuclear energy. A second scenario is that they could accept only the large hydro and reject the nuclear, which is worth $5 million dollars for EBCE. Lastly, Chaset  will propose that they could accept the offer, but include the nuclear only in the default product, the east expensive “Bright Choice” option. That would mean that those who can’t afford to pay more for the Renewable 100 “opt up” option will have nuclear in their electricity mix.  


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) allowed PG&E and the other IOUs to charge customers who depart for Community Choice programs the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA). It is an exit fee that Community Choice and Direct Access customers pay to PG&E for leaving them.  Now PG&E is dangling a carrot at Community Choice energy programs. For East Bay Community Energy this is worth $16M ($11M worth of nuclear and $5M worth of hydro).  


There are various dynamics here.  Firstly, nuclear energy is not clean energy.  According to the Principles of Environmental Justice,” Environmental Justice calls for universal protection from nuclear testing, extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons and nuclear testing that threaten the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food.”  California has been phasing out nuclear for safety concerns..  Nuclear doesn’t go away long after a power plant is closed, it is often dumped on native lands and the waste waters into the ocean.


Secondly, this leaves Community Choice vulnerable to negative public marketing and smear campaigns. We know PG&E is not a fan of Community Choice.  In addition, this could lead to opt outs which translates to customer loss for East Bay Community Energy.


Another threat is that this proposal is pressuring cities within East Bay Community Energy to reconsider opting all customers into Renewable 100, with rates above PG&E’s or into Brilliant 100 which is mostly large hydroelectric energy marketed as, “carbon free” at price parity to PG&E.  A worse scenario is sticking nuclear into EBCE’s “Bright Choice” option (1.5% discount to PG&E prices) thereby breeding life into this myth that Community Choice are elite programs.


The East Bay Community Energy board agenda is expected to be available December 14 and the board is expected to make a decision on December 18.  We urge you to join us is rejecting nuclear energy in East Bay Community Energy, let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Local clean energy resources and benefit programs is the community choice and as East Bay Community Energy’s tagline says, we have “the power to choose.” ”


You can find this proposal presented by Nick Chaset at the November 22 Executive Committee Meeting here.  For more information contact jessica@localcleanenergy.org.