Frequently Asked Questions

EBCE is the new, greener choice for the electricity that powers our homes and businesses. Choosing a local power provider that places a high priority on renewable, carbon-free energy is an easy, economical way to reduce your home or business carbon footprint and help create a healthier environment. Do you have questions about EBCE? Check out our FAQs below or contact us.

 

General

How does EBCE work?
East Bay Community Energy purchases power with higher renewable and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) content than is offered by PG&E. Other than receiving cleaner electricity at competitive prices, all other aspects of your electricity service remain the same. PG&E continues to deliver the electricity, maintain the power lines, handle billing, and respond to new service requests and emergencies. If you want to stay with PG&E for your electricity, you can opt out of East Bay Community Energy.
When and where is EBCE service available?
EBCE started service to most municipal and commercial accounts in June 2018 and to residential customers in November 2018.  NEM or solar accounts will be enrolled on an ongoing basis throughout 2019.  EBCE serves Alameda County and 11 of its member cities.  The three cities in the county that are not currently eligible for EBCE service are Newark, Pleasanton, and the city of Alameda.
Does EBCE fully replace PG&E?
No. EBCE procures cleaner electricity for our customers, and PG&E delivers electricity to your home or business. PG&E also continues to handle the billing, turn on and off power when you move, maintain the power lines, and resolve outages. Those who prefer to have PG&E continue to buy their electricity can choose that option.
So when the power goes out, PG&E will fix it?
Yes, absolutely. PG&E crews in their distinctive blue trucks will maintain the lines and repair them as needed, just as they do today.
Where will you be buying the renewable electricity?
The power portfolio is currently under development, but the intent is to purchase as much electricity as possible from sources located in California at prices that remain competitive with PG&E. Power will be primarily renewable energy and carbon-free.  EBCE is subject to reporting requirements, just like PG&E, including a Power Content Label that will be published in October 2019 for the previous year’s electricity.
Are other counties considering this?
Cities and counties throughout California are already moving forward with similar programs. There are currently nineteen operational Community Choice Energy programs (CCEs) in California, and that number is estimated to grow in 2020, with a combined service area population of 18 million. According to a 2017 report from the Center for Climate Protection, CCEs will reduce at least 5 million metric tons of GHG emissions cumulatively compared to the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs), and CCE customers will save $188 million more per year by the end of 2020 compared with what customers would have spent if they stayed with the incumbent utilities.
What type of local reinvestment has been done in other programs?
MCE Clean Energy, which covers the counties of Marin, Napa, and Contra Costa, has already invested over $500 million in in-state and local renewable energy projects that have created over 2,400 construction and vendor jobs, with more coming soon. Sonoma Clean Power has found that developing local renewable energy projects within Sonoma County will result in lower rates by 2020, compared with buying electricity elsewhere.

Enrollment & Opt-Out

When and where is EBCE service available?
EBCE started service to most municipal and commercial accounts in June 2018 and to residential customers in November 2018.  NEM or solar accounts will be enrolled on an ongoing basis throughout 2019.  EBCE serves Alameda County and 11 of its member cities.  The three cities in the county that are not currently eligible for EBCE service are Newark, Pleasanton, and the city of Alameda.
How do I enroll in EBCE?
EBCE replaces PG&E as the default electricity provider in Alameda County. Anyone with a PG&E electric account in these areas was automatically enrolled in EBCE. The cities of Newark and Pleasanton are currently not members of EBCE. The City of Alameda is not eligible to participate since it is served by its own municipal utility.
Why am I automatically enrolled in EBCE? Do I have a choice?
That’s the way the law governing the formation of CCE programs like EBCE was written. When a city or county decides to participate, all their residents and businesses are automatically enrolled. Nevertheless, if you wish to remain with PG&E, you may do so by opting out of EBCE. An online opt-out form is available.
How do I opt out of EBCE?
Customers may opt out of EBCE. To do so, visit this page and complete the form, or call our call center at 1-833-699-EBCE (3223) and use the automated phone system, or talk with a customer service representative (available 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays).  Note that unless you opt out, you will remain enrolled in EBCE service if your premise is in our service area.
How do I stay with PG&E?
Customers may opt out of EBCE and stay with PG&E. To do so, visit this page and complete the form, or call our call center at 1-833-699-EBCE (3223) and use the automated phone system, or talk with a customer service representative (available 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays). For two months after launch there’s no impact to remain with PG&E. Beyond two months after launch, you can still return to PG&E, but you can’t rejoin EBCE for one year and there may be changes to your rate schedule. More information is available under Opt Out on this page.
I’ve heard that PG&E is charging an additional fee—an exit fee—for customers who leave. What’s that about?
That’s the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment or PCIA, sometimes called an “exit fee.” It will appear on your bill as a separate line item under the PG&E Electric Delivery Charges.

PG&E has various long-term contracts for buying electricity for its customers; some are as long as 20 years. It bought power based on the number of customers it serves. The price is locked in, which is good when the cost of generating electricity is rising as one might expect over a long time period. Recently, however, the cost of natural gas, has been going down.

When customers switch to EBCE, PG&E needs to provide less electricity but still has to pay for the amount of power in its long-term contracts. So PG&E sells the excess power on the open market. Right now, contracted electricity generated by natural gas or renewable sources is selling for less than what PG&E paid for it. That difference is charged to EBCE customers under the guidance of the California Public Utilities Commission.

What’s most important to know is that EBCE’s rates—including the PCIA charge—will still be competitive with PG&E’s rates.

I’ve heard that PG&E will lose jobs in the Bay Area with all the new local electricity providers.
The vast majority of PG&E employees provide transmission and distribution system maintenance and upgrades, billing, and customer service—all of which PG&E will continue to provide. There have not been any noticeable job losses in communities that have a second, local electricity provider—in fact new jobs have been created constructing and operating local energy generation facilities. The EBCE Technical Study also anticipates a net increase in good paying jobs as the result of the EBCE program.
Can I return to EBCE if I opt out?
Customers who opt out within the first 60 days of EBCE service may return to EBCE at any time. Based on state law, customers who opt out after the first 60 days of service with EBCE must wait one year before returning to EBCE.
Is there a fee for opting out?
For customers enrolled in 2018, there are no fees from EBCE if you opt out before June 1, 2019. For net energy metered customers enrolled in 2019, there are no fees from EBCE if you opt out before June 1, 2020. After the deadline, you will be charged a one-time termination fee of $5 per residential account or $25 per commercial account.
Can I opt out at any time?
You may opt out of EBCE electric generation service at any time by calling 1-833-699-EBCE (3223) or by completing the opt-out form at ebce.org/optout. You will need your PG&E account information to begin the opt-out process.

If returning to PG&E generation service after receiving EBCE service for more than 60 days, or after enrolling as an Early Adopter, PG&E requires that you choose one of the following options:

  • Option 1: Return to PG&E generation service at the end of the current billing cycle. You will be billed at PG&E’s transitional rates for a six-month period, and PG&E’s standard bundled electricity rates thereafter.
  • Option 2: Give six month’s advance notice of your intent to return to PG&E generation service. At the end of the six-month notice period, you will be returned to PG&E service and billed PG&E’s standard bundled electricity rates.

 

Rates & Billing

What are these East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) charges on my PG&E bill? Am I paying more now with EBCE?

Your PG&E bill now includes charges from East Bay Community Energy, your new electricity provider, and a new Generation Credit from PG&E. You had been previously paying PG&E for electricity generation, as well as for transmission and distribution. Now, your bill shows that you’re receiving electricity from EBCE and transmission and distribution from PG&E.

Please see this web page for more information on how to understand your bill.
Customers on EBCE’s Bright Choice service will see a small reduction on their total energy bill and receive energy that’s cleaner than PG&E’s power mix. Brilliant 100 customer bills are the same as they would have been with PG&E as their electricity provider and now receive 100 percent carbon-free energy. Renewable 100 customers pay a little bit more for 100 percent renewable energy.
How come there is no Generation Credit on my PG&E bill?

Most EBCE customers see a Generation Credit on their PG&E bill each month (usually on page 3), showing what they would have paid PG&E for generation service. The Generation Credit appears because PG&E first charges customers the fully-bundled retail cost per kilowatt-hour, which includes transmission, distribution, generation, fees, taxes, etc. Then for EBCE customers they remove the cost of generation service from that total, and issue that amount as a Generation Credit. EBCE provides the generation service, and our charges replace that Generation Credit.

In two cases customers do not see a Generation Credit: solar net energy metered accounts, and customers who use minimal amounts of electricity. These customers pay PG&E’s Minimum Delivery Charge instead of paying per kWh for PG&E electric delivery service. These accounts are not charged by the kilowatt-hour for electric delivery service, they are charged a daily fee instead.These customers do not pay a fully-bundled retail cost per kilowatt-hour, and are never charged by PG&E for generation service, so there is no need for PG&E to issue a kWh-based Generation Credit.

If these customers are interested in comparing their EBCE charges to what they would have paid PG&E for generation service, they can calculate a “proxy” Generation Credit by multiplying their monthly kWh consumption times the generation rate(s) in their PG&E rate schedule (available here https://www.pge.com/tariffs/index.page). It is important to note that customers who do not receive a Generation Credit on their bill are still saving 1.5% compared to PG&E rates if they are on EBCE’s Bright Choice service, and they pay the same monthly amount if they are on PG&E service or EBCE’s Brilliant 100.

How can EBCE offer lower rates?
What makes EBCE so powerful is that it supports clean energy market competition in three ways:

  1. EBCE buys power through a competitive process that encourages private energy companies to compete to provide more clean, renewable power at lower costs.
  2. EBCE is a local government agency with low overhead costs.
  3. Because there are no shareholder investors expecting dividends, EBCE can reinvest net revenue into the community and keep rates low.
How will EBCE set its rates?
EBCE electricity rates will be set through a transparent public process and approved by the EBCE Board of Directors, elected officials from all participating jurisdictions. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in publicly noticed hearings for each step of the process.
Will rates be stable?
EBCE will set its generation rates once per year, similar to PG&E. That stability makes it easier to determine household or business electricity expenses.
Which service will I be enrolled in?
Most accounts within EBCE’s coverage area were automatically enrolled in the Bright Choice service, which is powered by at least 38% renewable energy and an additional minimum of 47% carbon-free energy (together, a total of 85% carbon-free) and offered at a discount to the corresponding PG&E rate. Per the request of the local city council in an effort to support sustainability goals, residential and commercial customers within the cities of Albany and Hayward were enrolled in Brilliant 100 automatically at the start of service. Brilliant 100 service offers 100% carbon-free power at the same rate as PG&E. Residential customers within the city of Piedmont were enrolled in Renewable 100.  Renewable 100 service offers 100% renewable and 100% carbon-free power at $0.01/kWh more than the Brilliant 100 rate. Additional information on enrollment and service options is available at https://ebce.org/terms/.
Will my taxes be used to fund this program?
No. By law, EBCE can only be funded through revenues—revenue is used to reduce or stabilize rates, incentives, local renewable projects, and customized programs such as energy efficiency services and rebates. EBCE’s budget is completely separate from the general funds of participating local governments and is approved by the board before the start of the fiscal year on July 1 each year.
Will I still receive my CARE, FERA, or Medical Baseline discounts with EBCE?
If you receive a low-income discount on your electricity bill through the CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline Allowance programs, that discount will continue to apply as an EBCE customer. Renewals and new enrollment applications are still handled by PG&E – visit pge.com/financialassistance for more information.
Do I get billed separately by EBCE?
No, you will continue to receive one monthly bill from PG&E that includes EBCE charges. The general look, appearance, and setup of your bill will not change, although EBCE electricity supply charges will replace PG&E electricity supply charges. A full description of how to read your bill is available here.
What is the PCIA?
That’s the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment or PCIA, sometimes called an “exit fee.” The PCIA is intended to ensure that customers who switch to EBCE pay for energy that was contracted by PG&E to serve them prior to their switch. It will appear on your bill as a separate line item in the PG&E Electric Delivery Charges section of the bill. What’s most important to know is that EBCE’s rates—even with the PCIA charge included—will still be competitive with PG&E’s rates.
Can PG&E raise delivery fees on EBCE customers above those of non-EBCE customers?
No. PG&E must provide the same transmission and distribution rates for all customers in their service area whether or not they receive electricity from PG&E or a Community Choice Energy program such as EBCE.
Do PG&E employees retain their employee discount while served by EBCE?
Yes, the PG&E employee discount is exactly the same dollar value whether you are on EBCE generation service or PG&E bundled service.
Does PG&E's conservation incentive (aka tiered rates) apply to EBCE customers?
Yes. The conservation incentive is applied by PG&E (not by EBCE) but impacts your bill the same way whether you are on EBCE service or not. For a detailed example, see page two of this document under the section entitled “Unbundling of Total Rates.” In that section, there is a Generation charge of $0.09838 per kWh. That is PG&E’s rate, which will be replaced by EBCE. Below that you see “Conservation Incentive Adjustment.” That is the baseline treatment. Whether you are a PG&E customer for generation service or on EBCE, that treatment remains the same. So no matter what tier of usage you have in a given month, EBCE’s rates will reflect the value proposition proposed depending on which service you are on (Bright Choice, Brilliant 100, or Renewable 100).
Does EBCE offer the same rate schedules (E1, Time of Use, EV-A, etc.) as PG&E?
Yes. EBCE’s rates mirror those of PG&E, so your rate plan remains the same, the Time of Use (TOU) hours are the same, and the rate tiers are the same; but the cost of your electricity generation is relative to PG&E’s generation cost based on the service option you are in (Bright Choice, Brilliant 100, Renewable 100). See information on rate costs here.
Do EBCE customers receive the California Climate Credit?
Yes. Twice a year, in Spring and Fall, you will see the California Climate Credit appear on your PG&E bill. This credit is your share of money from California’s Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program. You will see this credit whether you are a customer of EBCE or PG&E.
Does EBCE offer the same Budget Billing (Balance Payment Plan) option that PG&E does?

Unfortunately, EBCE does not offer this.  Customers on EBCE service can have budget billing for their PG&E charges, but not for their EBCE charges.  You will still receive one bill, but with some month to month fluctuation that corresponds to the generation charge.

Does EBCE support SmartRate

No. SmartRate is a program offered only to PG&E generation customers. However, EBCE customers can sign up for a similar service through companies that offer demand response programs. The California Public Utilities Commission maintains a list of these companies.

I opted into a Time-of-Use schedule with peak hours everyday from 4 pm to 9 pm. Does EBCE support this rate schedule?

EBCE will support this Time-of-Use rate schedule. However, EBCE is not offering the bill protection feature for the first year a customer is on this rate schedule.

 

Commercial, Agricultural & Industrial Customers

Will EBCE have a separate rate structure for agricultural customers?
EBCE will use the same rate schedules as PG&E, including those rates specific to agricultural customers such as AG-1, AG-4, and AG-5. The current rate sheet can be found on the website at ebce.org/rates.
What if I have multiple accounts?
Owners of multiple accounts can choose to opt up or opt out your individual accounts. Enrollment is by account, so you’ll be able to see all your accounts and decide what is best for each one.
What if I have existing direct access arrangements?
Any existing direct access arrangements will not be automatically enrolled in EBCE’s program. Direct Access (DA) service is retail electric service where customers purchase electricity from a competitive provider called an Electric Service Provider (ESP), instead of from a regulated electric utility. However, those customers can choose to become EBCE customers. Special direct access termination provisions may apply.

 

Solar & Nem Customers

I have solar panels on my property. Will I continue to receive the benefit of Net Energy Metering (NEM)? Will EBCE offer something better?
EBCE will look at ways to support the value of local solar to the owners of solar photovoltaic systems. At a minimum, EBCE will match the NEM offering provided by PG&E. Additional information on the EBCE NEM policy is available here.
What happens if I’m a Net Energy Metering 1.0 customer and switch back to PG&E?
According to PG&E, changing service providers has no effect on rate schedules or NEM interconnection. This includes both opt in and opt out. Customers don’t reapply for interconnection when they change service providers, so they’re still under the same (1.0) interconnection agreement regardless of their electricity service provider.
As a customer with solar, when will I be enrolled with EBCE?
Solar customers will be enrolled throughout 2019 based on their True-Up date with PG&E, as shown in the table below.

NEM Anniversary DateEnrollment Month
January, February, March, and AprilApril 2019
May and JuneJune 2019
July and AugustAugust 2019
September and OctoberOctober 2019
November and DecemberDecember 2019

 

Governance

What is East Bay Community Energy (EBCE)?

East bay Community Energy (EBCE) is a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. State law allows cities and counties to pool the electricity demand of their residents and businesses for the purpose of buying electricity on behalf of those customers as part of a CCE program.

EBCE, a joint powers authority formed in 2016, is a locally controlled, not for profit public agency covering most of Alameda County. It provides residents and businesses in those communities with an option to have more of their electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources—such as solar and wind—at competitive rates.

When customers are enrolled with EBCE, they help empower local control of electricity procurement decisions, reduce the carbon footprint associated with their electricity service, and help support growth of local renewables. Rather than paying profits to shareholders, EBCE’s net revenue (after buying power and administrative expenses), can be used to help stabilize electricity prices, provide incentives for more solar installations, support energy efficiency programs, develop more local renewable energy sources in and near Alameda County, and invest in innovative clean technologies and energy-related job training—all while keeping electricity rates competitive with PG&E.

How is the program run?
The County and participating cities will govern EBCE. The Board of Directors is composed of elected officials representing each of the participating communities. The Board sets rates and determines the mix of power sources. There is a small staff to run day-to-day operations and provide customer support. The entire process is completely transparent, with all Board meetings open to the public.
What is Community Choice Energy (CCE)?
In 2002, Assembly Bill 117 was enacted into law to establish Community Choice Aggregation opportunities in California, now referred to as Community Choice Energy (CCE). It allows a city or county (or groups of cities or counties) to become the default electric supplier in its jurisdiction(s). By doing so, it offers an opportunity for Californians to locally influence the sources of their electricity. Marin Clean Energy (now called MCE Clean Energy) was California’s first CCE program launched in 2010, followed by Sonoma Clean Power, and subsequently Lancaster Choice Energy.
Has this worked out well elsewhere?
Yes. The Sonoma Clean Power and MCE Clean Energy partnerships with PG&E have worked very well. PG&E provides essential customer service and maintains the transmission system in communities served by both programs. Many additional communities around California have recently launched or are planning to launch their own CCE programs.
Is there a downside to Community Choice? There must be some risk.
As with any business enterprise, there are risks. The primary risks are customer opt-outs, energy price fluctuations, and changing state regulations. A successful CCE program requires that a significant majority of residential and commercial customers obtain their electricity from the program. This is one reason why CCE programs strive to maintain competitive pricing, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and providing higher renewable content than what you can get from the incumbent utility.

California’s energy markets have been stable for several years and prices for electricity from both renewable and conventional energy sources (natural gas) are relatively low. Markets could become more volatile. EBCE will hedge risks by developing a diverse portfolio that includes a mix of long-term and short-term contracts and direct investments in power projects.

The regulatory risk is difficult to predict. A 2002 State law allows cities and counties to develop programs like this—the State is supportive. Many CCE programs have been very active in the California Public Utilities Commission’s regulatory proceedings and have established a strong network. As more local programs are developed, we will have an even stronger presence—it will be essential to actively participate in ongoing regulatory proceedings

How will the program be regulated?
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the entity that regulates all California energy providers, approved the EBCE Implementation Plan in October 2017. The Plan discusses rate design, plan to buy electricity, and how we will carry out all the functions the CPUC requires. EBCE must comply with various reporting requirements issued by the CPUC and the California Energy Commission.

What does the Community Advisory Committee do and who is on it?
Members of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) were selected by the EBCE Board of Directors following an application process. The CAC advises the Board on matters related to the operation of EBCE. A list of CAC members is available here.
Where did the money to start EBCE come from?
The County of Alameda issued a $3.7 million loan to launch EBCE. EBCE began to repay this debt when the program started delivering electricity and generating revenue. EBCE received bank financing to fund power purchases.

Energy Services

How much renewable energy will EBCE provide?
EBCE will provide much of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and small hydroelectricity—which do not pollute or produce greenhouse gases. Switching from conventional energy sources to renewable energy is the single most effective way to accomplish our communities’ climate action goals. Check out the website for more information on our power mix.
How much renewable energy does PG&E offer?
PG&E offers two options to customers – a standard product with 33% renewable energy and a “Solar Choice” product with 100% solar energy.
What’s different about how EBCE buys power?
Currently PG&E owns some electricity generation facilities such as natural gas-burning plants, large hydroelectric dams, and one nuclear plant. It also buys electricity on the open market.

EBCE will buy a higher percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources, also on the open market. EBCE will also invest in and build local renewable energy projects, as other more established CCE programs are now doing.

Isn’t renewable power more expensive than regular electricity?
Not any more. During the past 30 years the costs of fossil fuels have been rising, although natural gas and oil prices have come down recently. During the same time, the cost of renewable sources has dropped dramatically. In fact, in California, renewable energy is often cheaper than fossil fuel because after the initial construction costs, the fuels—wind and sun—are free.
How does the electricity you buy actually get to my house?
EBCE will buy the same amount of electricity that customers use, and feed it into California’s electric grid. When the electrons hit the grid, no one can determine where each individual electron goes. EBCE will provide cleaner electricity to the grid (with higher renewable content and fewer greenhouse gases), displacing what PG&E had been providing. It’s like when you deposit $100 into one ATM and later take it out of another ATM. It’s not the same $100, but it is your money. The advantage of EBCE is that the electricity we put into the grid will be more carbon-free and renewably sourced than what PG&E is putting into the grid.
What’s the difference between renewably sourced electricity and carbon-free electricity?
Electricity generated from solar, wind, geothermal, and small hydroelectric plants is renewable because those sources are never depleted. They do not create greenhouse gases so they are also carbon-free.

Other sources of electricity include nuclear facilities and large hydroelectric dams. They don’t create greenhouse gases so they are considered to be carbon-free. However, the state of California does not recognize those two sources as renewable.

If EBCE offers 50% renewable energy sources, for example, where’s the rest coming from?
Initially, there may be natural gas or carbon-free hydroelectric components which are purchased on the open market. However, EBCE, like its counterparts in Marin, Sonoma, and San Mateo, will reduce its reliance on carbon-producing sources over time.
What about buying electricity from a coal-fired plant?
Never.
And power generated by large hydroelectric dams?
There is a mix of small (renewable) in Bright Choice and large (not renewable, but carbon-free) hydroelectric power in Brilliant 100 in order to minimize carbon emissions.
California law (SB 350) requires that all electricity must be 50% renewable by 2030. Why start EBCE if PG&E will also be delivering 50% renewable electricity?
SB 350 is a great law. Yet we don’t see any reason to wait until 2030 to reach that level of renewable energy content in the power delivered to our community. We can do it now. That level has already been achieved in Marin and San Mateo and will soon be achieved in Sonoma and San Francisco.

EBCE’s baseline energy product has as large a portion of renewable energy sources as possible, and that’s just the beginning. MCE Clean Energy intends to be 85% carbon-free by 2025. There’s no reason our community can’t do that—or more—as well.

How can I be sure that EBCE is buying 100% renewable energy on my behalf when I enroll in Renewable 100?
EBCE is required to report to the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission on an annual basis to verify the amount of renewable energy procured for our customers. This is the same standard used by all California utilities, including PG&E, for verification purposes.