By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The city of San Jose is now getting on board with the global push for sustainable energy. City officials flipped the switch Wednesday to bring clean, renewable and lower-cost energy into City Hall – energy not created with greenhouse gases.

“As of today, the lights in this room and the screen behind me are being powered entirely by GHG-free energy,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Last year, San Jose became the largest city in the nation to opt into a community choice energy plan.

The city buys electricity for itself, businesses and residents from clean and lower cost alternative sources such as solar, wind and water generation, but PG&E still distributes the power.

“In other words, we continue to use PG&E’s wires and towers and they continue to generate revenue off the transmission,” said Liccardo. “We step in the role of providing the wholesale energy.”

San Jose will first be offering a 40 percent renewable energy package to businesses that’s expected to shave $18 a month off PG&E for a medium-sized company.

Homeowners will be brought in next spring for savings of about one percent.

“You’re saving money from day one,” said Zach Struyk with San Jose Clean Energy. “And so, yes, over time we think we’re going to save more money. We think market prices are getting better for solar, wind and other resources. And so, yeah, that savings is going to increase.”

But there is a new problem that could short-circuit San Jose’s plans.

Members of California’s Public Utilities Commission are threatening to impose new fees for opting out of PG&E that could wipe out any cost savings to consumers and businesses.”

“We want to move forward. San Francisco has moved forward. Oakland is moving forward,” said Liccardo. “The question is, will the CPUC get out of the way?”

He should get the answer at a CPUC meeting later this month.

 

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