City of Palo Alto’s Green Energy Program #1 in Country

January 11, 2008

Northern California Power Agency Member Uses Public-Private Partnerships to Reduce CO2 Emissions, Enhance Green Energy Usage

The City of Palo Alto recently celebrated its ranking as the number one renewable energy program in the U.S., according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). PaloAltoGreen, a voluntary green energy purchasing program, now boasts a membership of one in five ratepayers. While the national average for enrollment in similar programs is less than two percent, PaloAltoGreen saw a five percent membership increase in 2007. 

The City of Palo Alto, a leading member of the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA), launched PaloAltoGreen five years ago. For an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), community ratepayers can volunteer to enroll in the green energy program. Annually, the Citys utility department purchases nearly 41.5 million kWh of clean energy, which offsets approximately 700 million pounds of harmful carbon dioxide.

The City of Palo Alto is a leading example of the benefits of municipal utilities participating in green energy programs, said Jim Pope, general manager of NCPA. Renewable energy public-private partnerships enable municipal utilities to offer the type of smart green energy pricing programs that ratepayers more often respond to — and more importantly — are enormously effective in reducing CO2 emissions.

The city estimates that the average additional residential monthly expense to ratepayers in the program is less than ten dollars a month to purchase 100 percent renewable energy. With the citys emphasis on providing sustainable, reliable, and affordable electric power service, the participants in PaloAltoGreen, even after paying this premium, still pay less than the Pacific Gas & Electric Company standard rate.

Combining green energy purchasing policies with a simple enrollment plan, PaloAltoGreen demonstrates that increasing renewable energy usage and reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be economic and practical when the public and private sectors work together. The clean energy program attracts participation from business as well, with more than 100 local businesses participating in PaloAltoGreen.

PaloAltoGreen purchases a California blend of renewable energy from wind and solar generators in Davis, Pleasanton, San Ramon and Solano County. 97.5 percent of it is from wind with the remaining 2.5 percent from solar.

NREL, which is the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, releases Top-10 rankings of the nations best performing renewable energy programs annually.

NCPA is a nonprofit California joint powers agency established in 1968 to generate, transmit, and distribute electric power to and on behalf of its fifteen members: the Cities of Alameda, Biggs, Gridley, Healdsburg, Lodi, Lompoc, Palo Alto, Redding, Roseville, Santa Clara, and Ukiah; the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the Port of Oakland, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, and the Turlock Irrigation District; and two associate members: the Placer County Water Agency and the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, serving nearly 700,000 electric consumers in Central and Northern California. For more information, please visit www.ncpa.com.

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One Response to “City of Palo Alto’s Green Energy Program #1 in Country”

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