PCE propels San Mateo County’s path towards carbon neutrality

A view from overhead the Wright Solar Farm in Los Banos, California.

West Coast Aeria / Mark Holtzman / PCE / CC BY 2.0

A view from overhead the Wright Solar Farm in Los Banos, California.

Energy fuels life, but many residents of the Bay Area have little knowledge about where their energy comes from.

Peninsula Clean Energy, also known as PCE, has been the energy provider for San Mateo County residents since 2015. With ambitious goals to make low-cost, carbon-free energy accessible, all 20 of the San Mateo County cities voted to develop PCE as a government-funded entity. Since then, PCE has rolled out efforts to provide 100% carbon-free energy by 2021 and 100% renewable energy by 2025. 

However, many of PCE’s actions go unnoticed by most San Mateo County residents.

“[PCE] is doing great things at an important time, but people don’t really know or care who they are,” Michael McCord, a former member of the PCE citizen advisory board, said.

Yet, even without recognition, PCE continues to push for a new wave of carbon-free energy in San Mateo County. The base package that residents automatically receive is the ECOplus package. This gives residents 95% carbon-free energy as well as 50% renewable energy.

Along with the ECOplus package, PCE also offers the ECO100 package. This gives residents access to 100% renewable energy by only increasing their bill by $4-5 a month. However, PCE has faced trouble converting residents from the ECOplus package to the ECO100 package; only about 3% of residents have switched over. 

“PCE has done some great things, but they have not told people about them,” Tim Bussiek, the lead of PCE’s Strategic Priorities Workgroup and member of the Citizen Advisory board, said. “In that, PCE is its own biggest problem. You do great things, but you also need people to know about them.” 

Still, PCE has been incredibly successful in its goal to provide clean energy to consumers, with or without commendation. As discussions regarding climate and clean energy surface, the importance of organizations such as PCE and other frontline clean energy providers becomes even more apparent.

“Many people see all this bad news about climate change,” Bussiek said. “A story like PCE where something is being done about it is good for people to know.”

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