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Carbon-Free FAQ

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What types of electricity does Silicon Valley Power provide?

Coal-free electricity.  Starting January 1, 2018, Silicon Valley Power (SVP) provides all customers with coal‑free power as their standard, default power supply.

Carbon‑free electricity. Starting January 1, 2018, SVP provides all residential customers with carbon‑free power as their standard, default power supply. This means the power generation produces no net carbon emissions. Inherently, carbon‑free power uses no fossil fuel generation.

100 percent renewable electricity. Since 2004, SVP has provided all residential and commercial customers the option to participate in Santa Clara Green Power. By choosing this option, customers match 100 percent of their monthly electricity use with renewable energy (100% solar and wind). 

What is coal‑free electricity?

As of January 1, 2018, all power provided to SVP customers (both residential and commercial) is coal‑free, generated by power plants that do not use coal to produce electricity.

What is carbon‑free electricity?

SVP's carbon‑free electricity is generated by renewable resources whose emissions profile meet standards set by the California Air Resources Board and by emission-free large hydroelectric resources. Carbon‑free electricity from SVP consists of 50 percent large hydroelectric power and 50 percent eligible renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas and small hydroelectric power plants.

What is SVP’s 100 percent renewable energy option?

SVP provides customers with choices for their electricity supply. SVP’s 100 percent renewable energy option, Santa Clara Green Power, allows participants to cover 100 percent of their electricity with renewable energy from wind and solar facilities in California and the West. The option is Green-e Energy certified and meets the environmental and consumer protection standards set forth by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions. Green-e is a trusted global certification provider and helps guide SVP’s clean energy offerings. Learn more about Santa Clara Green Power.

Why does SVP provide these cleaner electricity products?

As the not-for-profit, community-owned municipal electric utility for the City of Santa Clara, SVP acts on behalf of Santa Clara residents and businesses. SVP customers have asked for cleaner electricity choices and SVP has delivered, proactively providing customers with a diversified mix of energy resources, offering its 100 percent renewable energy option, Santa Clara Green Power, since 2004.

SVP has also taken these actions as part of its efforts toward meeting climate goals set forth by the State of California, including the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32), which mandates cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and the California Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to ensure 50 percent of retail sales are from eligible renewables by 2030. The City of Santa Clara’s 2013 Climate Action Plan identified eliminating coal from our power supply and developing new renewable energy projects as key emission reduction strategies.

Is power from large hydroelectric resources considered renewable or carbon‑free?

Large hydroelectric resources (larger than 30 MW of generation capacity) are not considered eligible renewable by the state of California. Since large hydroelectric resources do not produce carbon emissions in order to generate power, SVP considers this power to be carbon‑free.

Is power from geothermal and landfill gas resources considered renewable or carbon‑free?

The geothermal and biomass resources used by SVP are considered renewable under the standards set by the California Air Resources Board and the standards set by Green-e Energy. However, these sources are not considered carbon‑free because landfill gas and geothermal plants emit low levels of greenhouse gases into the air. In order to meet Green‑e standards, SVP’s 100 percent renewable option, Santa Clara Green Power, does not contain geothermal and landfill gas resources.

How do I know that the electricity powering my home is carbon‑free?

Your home’s electricity is generated from renewable resources and large hydroelectric facilities that do not emit carbon in order to produce electricity. SVP procures carbon-free power for your home through resources that SVP owns or through multiyear Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with solar, wind, hydroelectric, landfill gas, and geothermal power plants. These PPAs directly support the building and generation of these cleaner power sources. This will be evident in SVP’s 2018 Residential Power Content Label, which will be released in 2019.

Will carbon‑free power impact the reliability of SVP’s electricity?

Carbon‑free power resources will not impact the reliability of SVP’s electricity. SVP’s diverse set of power resources are connected to the dynamic electric grid, designed to handle variability in both supply and demand.

What can residents expect going forward? Will my bill change?

SVP residential customers should not expect any changes to the quality, reliability, or price of their power as a result of SVP’s switch to carbon‑free power for all residential customers. SVP will procure enough renewable and large hydroelectric power for all residential customers to receive carbon‑free power over the calendar year. Service will not be disrupted or altered in any manner. As a not-for-profit enterprise of the City of Santa Clara, electric rates may be adjusted if overall costs change in the future. 

What can commercial customers expect moving forward?

SVP commercial customers should not expect any changes to the quality, reliability, or price of their power as a result of the switch to coal‑free power for all commercial customers. As a not-for-profit enterprise of the City of Santa Clara, electric rates may be adjusted if overall costs change in the future.

What can existing Santa Clara Green Power customers expect going forward?

Santa Clara Green Power participants will continue to have all their electricity use matched with equal quantities of 100 percent solar and wind renewable power. The rate for participation in the Santa Clara Green Power option is expected to stay the same. Please see the Santa Clara Green Power FAQs for any other questions.

Do I still need to worry about conserving energy now that electricity is carbon‑free?

The use of carbon‑free electricity will decrease Santa Clara resident’s carbon footprint from electricity use. However, all energy consumption has impacts on land use, the environment, and your electric bill. Therefore, it is important to use only as much energy as you need. Learn more about how you can use energy efficiently with these tips for your home and advice for your business.

Will SVP’s power supply change in the future?

Yes. The power content for all SVP commercial customers will still be on track to meet the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) set for all electric service providers. All individual customer segments (including both residential and commercial) will meet the RPS standard of 50 percent renewables by 2030.

What resources powered SVP’s electricity before 2018?

Previously, SVP’s electricity was generated by large and small hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, coal, and landfill gas resources. You can view SVP’s 2017 Power Content Label for more information.

Why does the Power Content Label on SVP’s website still show resources that emit carbon?

The 2017 Power Content Label currently on the website reflects the power resources used during 2017. SVP and state percentages are evaluated annually based on electricity sold to consumers during the previous year. Therefore, the 2018 Power Content Label will be published in June 2019 and will reflect the power mix supplied in 2018. In June 2019, SVP will publish two separate Power Content Labels for the power supplied in 2018, one for residential customers, reflecting the carbon‑free power supply, and another for commercial customers, reflecting the coal‑free power supply.

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