It has been two years since the launch of Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE), the community electricity provider for Mountain View and 12 other Santa Clara County communities. How is it going so far?
Homes and buildings in Mountain View have been receiving electricity from the same provider for more than 100 years. The difference is that now, when over 37,000 Mountain View households and businesses turn on a light, run their refrigerator or plug in a computer, they are receiving electricity exclusively supplied by clean, carbon-free sources. SVCE purchases clean electricity from solar, wind and hydropower to meet our annual demand, in the place of electricity produced from fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal.
SVCE's clean electricity has helped reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our Silicon Valley communities by 16.6% since 2015 -- a total of 1.1 billion pounds of carbon emissions avoided! For Mountain View alone, about 160 million pounds of carbon emissions were avoided. The SVCE power supply is verified through mandatory state reporting requirements. In addition, SVCE voluntarily reports emissions to The Climate Registry, an independent organization that operates the global standard for emissions reporting. As a community-owned and locally-governed agency, SVCE's financial results have been strong and transparent. The organization has won finance awards for operational excellence and achieved clean audits in its first two years of operation.
In addition to GHG emissions reduction, SVCE saved customers $20 million on their energy bills in 2018. SVCE is chartered with putting our community first in providing cost-competitive electric generation rates for customers and reinvesting locally. Along with customer bill savings, SVCE granted $75,000 to local nonprofits, dedicated $26,500 in high school student scholarships and supported many community events.
SVCE continues to push for a clean and electric future by exploring new, innovative solutions for carbon reduction. Within the electricity system, there is a current timing mismatch between when renewable energy is produced, and periods of highest demand. This gap is often filled by electricity generated from carbon-emitting sources, such as natural gas-fired plants. SVCE is working to help solve this problem. For instance, SVCE has signed long-term agreements for the largest utility-scale, solar-plus-storage projects to be built in the state. These projects allow for solar energy to be stored and supplied after the sun sets through on-site batteries.
To complement the solar-plus-storage projects, SVCE also signed a long-term contract for a new wind farm. The location of this wind project in New Mexico provides a unique timing advantage, as it ramps up electricity production right when California's solar supplies taper off. With these cutting-edge power agreements, SVCE will be able to leverage more clean energy for additional hours of the day.
Aiming to propel Mountain View and all SVCE communities into a cleaner future, SVCE's recently approved Decarbonization Roadmap outlines 10 strategies and 18 programs to further reduce GHGs. Efforts include a heat pump water heater incentive to promote emission-free water heating in homes, a collaboration with communities to help push advanced energy codes to incentivize all-electric new construction, and installing more electric vehicle charging infrastructure to ensure that community members can easily make the switch to electric vehicles.
I am excited to see the future innovation and progress that Silicon Valley Clean Energy helps bring to Mountain View, and I am proud to serve as SVCE's board chair this year. It is encouraging to have a local public agency supporting a healthy Mountain View for future generations.
Margaret Abe-Koga is vice mayor of the city of Mountain View and serves as chair of the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Board of Directors.