The not-for-profit research outfit CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) reports that of the 570 worldwide cities now reporting to them, 100 now get 70% or more of their electricity from renewable sources; 42 of them are using 100% renewable electricity. In North America, only a few cities are reporting data to CDP however. I suspect there are more cities than reported in that 70% or better bucket.
Locally, only Benicia appears to be reporting to CDP, although there are other cities around the bay area that are making efforts to use more renewable sources for their electricity. In Alameda, where we are based, the city owned electricity utility has been a leader in that effort for a number of years now. Today, they offer consumers an option of 100% renewable electricity (Alameda Green). Back in 2012, before they introduced that option, the power mix in Alameda was essentially 75% renewable already (15% coming from large hydro-electric, the rest mostly from biomass and geothermal). Strangely, the more recent labels have included a very high percentage of unspecified source power, which is odd after years of being mainly renewable.
I wrote about this on my personal blog back in 2015, and noted this rider on the bottom of the 2013 power label:
While AMP’s power mix exceeds California’s requirements for clean power, it has dropped due to the short-term sale of a portion of the utility’s excess renewable energy. AMP continues to own the same generation resources and, after 2016, the utility will return to providing a high level of renewable energy to customers. Even better, overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be lower after 2016 due to the projects paid for by the short-term sale of some of AMP’s excess renewable energy.
I did not see that on the 2016 power label, however, so it will be interesting to see whether the 2017 mix returns to more renewable sources. For comparison, Alameda Green’s power mix for 2016 was 4% solar and 96% wind.
Another local city, Hayward, just announced that it is switching all of its customers from PG&E to a 100% renewable power from East Bay Community Energy (EBCE). While customers can choose to switch back after the transition, most will probably stay with the new company putting Hayward at least into that majority renewable group, if not in the 100% renewable group.
EBCE serves all of Alameda County, and during 2018 customers of PG&E in Alameda County will be switching over to them. As that happens, more of the east bay area cities, like Oakland, will be moving towards majority renewable, if not 100% renewable electricity. It might be good to see some of them reporting to the CDP for inclusion in their worldwide reports.
San Francisco has CleanPowerSF as an option for residents. As with EBCE, PG&E continues to handle the distribution and billing, but the energy comes from renewable sources. In SF, residents have the choice between 40% and 100% renewable. The power label for 2016 looked like this:
The 40% level is actually closer to 80% if you consider large scale hydro-electric to be green (California does not consider it that way for power labels). In terms of green house gas emissions though, large scale hydro-electric is as clean as wind & solar.
The number of customers right now is relatively low in SF, but they are planning to roll out another group of 100,000+ later this year.
The Clean Power Exchange site details many other cities implementing community choice energy options in the bay area, including San Jose, the Silicon Valley cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga and Sunnyvale, and the cities of San Mateo county on the peninsula,