Sunday, April 16, 2017

SCE's Voluntary Renewable Energy Programs

Buried in an esoteric corner of Southern California Edison's (SCE) website is a nugget of sustainability gold: voluntary programs that let you buy clean renewable energy through the utility!  This flyer has more details.

The Green Rate program lets you buy an amount of solar energy equal to the amount of electricity you use each month at a cost of 3.5 additional cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).  On my last residential electric bill I was in Tier 1, which costs 16 cents per kWh, meaning the solar electricity would be about 22% more expensive than the standard higher-fossil-fuel-content electricity.  You can sign up to get 50% or 100% of your power from solar through this program.  The program is estimated to cost someone with a $100 electric bill an extra $9.50 per month for the 50% option or an extra $19 per month for the 100% option.  My bill is about half that, except during the summer.

To me, it's worth it, so I signed up for the 100% option.  I can afford it, and I want to do more to combat global warming.  Living in a condo complex, the decision to add rooftop solar isn't really mine as an individual, so I like that this is something I control through my electric bill.  I also want to stick it to the climate-denying dolt in the White House.  As long as Trump controls the presidency and Republicans control Congress, meaningful action on, or even acknowledgement of, climate change seems unlikely at the federal level.  Luckily, we still have the state, local and individual levels.  SCE's programs appear to be a response to a California law called SB 43, which passed in 2013, mandating that consumers have the option to buy renewable power through large electric utilities.  The more solar energy gets rolled out, the cheaper it will become, through economies of scale, and the more utilities will understand how to integrate large amounts of it into the grid (e.g. through battery storage so that we'll have solar power even when the sun is down).

It's an honor to be in this fight.  Things look grim sometimes, but we're not out yet.  I believe in the power of people coming together to build a more optimistic future.  Let's leave the fossil fuels in the ground and build a future our children can be proud of.

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