Alameda County residents can leave PG&E for another power company next month

 – In Alameda County, people who want to leave Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) monopoly will soon have the chance. The City of Alameda has had its own power company for many years. Soon, the rest of the county will have an alternative.

Come November 1, Alameda County will have an alternative electricity supplier, EBCE, East Bay Community Energy, a government agency not unlike water supplier East Bay MUD.

Residents have already received mailers on the coming change, but many likely threw them away as junk mail or did not understand its meaning. “That’s the impression I got was that it was affiliated with PG&E. So, how can it really be better?” said Janet an Oakland PG&E customer.

At Oakland’s Friday Farmers Market, we told PG&E customers that they can stay with PG&E or drop PG&E. “As long as there’s an alternative to what we’re getting now, that’s an absolutely good idea,” said Terrell, another Oakland PG&E customer.

Under state law, PG&E customers will automatically become EBCE customers if they do not take the initiative to opt out of EBCE. “Actually the option is important, partly because people don’t pay attention,” said Sandra Coleman, another Oakland PG&E customer.

East Bay Community Energy does have the legal right to charge each person who opts out $5 for the privilege of doing so. But the agency has decided to waive that fee entirely until at least the middle of next year.

“They can go online and do it online, they can call our call center and speak with a call center operator or use the automated call in system to opt out,” said East Bay Community Energy CEO Nick Chaset.

EBCE says it will sell you power for 1.5% less that PG&E charges. “As a public agency, we operate, at a lower rate of overhead than you would see form an investor owned utility,” said Chaset. “Cheaper is always better because the energy prices are already skyrocketing,” said CEO Chaset.

Many PG&E customers still have a bad taste in their mouths from the rate payer share of wildfire costs.

“I don’t think PG&E has that much good credibility anyway,” said Oakland PG&E customer Sandra Coleman.

Ironically, a lot of EBCE’s green power, solar and wind, will be purchased at wholesale rates from PG&E.
EBCE will also buy power from green suppliers such as British Columbia Hydroelectric as well as setting up some of its own green energy.

As more renewable sources come online, we’ll need fewer and fewer fossil fuel, greenhouse gas producing power plants.