Renewable Energy FAQ

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solar panels and wind turbines
What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is electricity that is produced from sources that replenish themselves naturally. This includes wind, sunlight (solar), landfill and agricultural waste (biomass), the heat of the earth (geothermal), and eligible hydro-electric facilities.

These renewable sources of electricity have less impact on the environment than traditional methods of electricity generation, which includes burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Natural gas and coal, for example, are not renewables because their use consumes gas and coal reserves at a much quicker rate than they are replenished.

Renewable energy has a much lower impact on the environment than traditional methods of electricity generation. It produces lower levels of air pollutants, waste water, smog and acid rain, and it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By supporting renewable energy, you can help protect the environment by offsetting the need for more fossil fuel generation. In addition, renewable energy can help reduce our nation's reliance on fossil fuels.

What are the benefits of renewable energy?

Conventional electricity purchased from power plants in California causes the emission of 661 pounds of Carbon Dioxide per MWh. Enrolling in Santa Clara Green Power reduces your electricity-related emissions by 100 percent.

For the average residential customer, enrollment prevents the emission of 7,490 pounds of Carbon Dioxide a year. The environmental and air quality benefits are equivalent to the carbon removed from the atmosphere annually by 2.8 acres of pine or fir forests, or not driving your car for half a year.

Does renewable energy cost more?

Yes, but the premium you pay for green power vs “brown power” has been steadily falling. The average household in Santa Clara using 500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power each month will pay an additional cost of $7.50 more for Santa Clara Green Power, less than the cost of two gourmet coffees. Small businesses will pay the same small additional cost as residents for 100 percent of their use. For large businesses, the additional cost begins at fifteen dollars a month for each 1,000 kilowatt-hour block of renewable energy.

How does my money support renewable energy?

This program is revenue neutral for SVP. That means that the majority of the money you spend by enrolling in this program goes back to the people who are building more renewable facilities and trying to create a cleaner energy future. If you compare this program with similar programs across the country, this is one of the cheapest offered by utilities.

The average Santa Clara homes uses approximately 5,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) in one year.  If you choose to participate in Santa Clara Green Power, you will be supporting approximately 5,000 kWh of electricity output from recently built or new solar generators.

What is SVP's energy mix?

SVP’s 2017 power mix consisted of 38 percent eligible renewable resources.  When large hydroelectric resources are included, SVP’s power mix was 72 percent Greenhouse Gas (GHG) free.

 ENERGY RESOURCES       Power Mix           2017 CA Power Mix**    
 Eligible Renewable 38% 29% 
   Biomass & biowaste 3%  2% 
   Geothermal 2%  4%
   Eligible hydroelectric 19%  3% 
   Solar 2%  10% 
   Wind 12%  10%
Coal  9%  4%
Large Hydroelectric  34%  15% 
Natural Gas  16%  34% 
Nuclear  0%  9%
Other  0%  <1% 
Unspecified sources of power*  3%  9% 
TOTAL  100%  100% 

* "Unspecified sources of power" means electricity from transactions that are not traceable to specific generation sources.

** Percentages are estimated annual by the California Energy Commission based on the electricity sold to California consumers during the identified year.

For specific information about this electricity product, contact:  City of Santa Clara/Silicon Valley Power
 408-244-SAVE (7283)
For general information about the Power Content Label, please visit:
For additional questions, please contact the California Energy Commission at: 844-454-2906 


What is the Power Content Label?

California State legislation (SB 1305) requires all energy service providers, such as Silicon Valley Power, to annually inform their customers of the source of power they are being sold. Such information is provided in the form of a Power Content Label.  Think of the Power Content Label as a “nutrition label” for electricity. This label provides reliable information about the energy resources used to generate electricity, enabling you to easily compare the power “content” of one electricity product with that of another.

Why aren't we purchasing renewable energy for 100 percent of our customers?

Most of our customers want us to serve them reliable power at the lowest cost available. Adding more renewables to the mix is more expensive, because renewables are very investment intensive.

It is up to consumers to let it be known that they want better energy choices. Consumers can show this support by enrolling in programs like Santa Clara Green Power that promote the development of renewable of renewable energy facilities. SVP can also tell you about energy efficiency measures you can take, and about rebates you can get if you install solar panels on your home.

What is Santa Clara Green Power?

When you choose Santa Clara Green Power, SVP purchases 100 percent of the energy you use from solar projects in the Western United States.

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