Silicon Valley Power Advances Commitment to Renewables
Santa Clara adopts policy to bring in new energy sources that are renewable and/or greenhouse gas-free
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The City of Santa Clara is on a greener path by committing to generate electricity from 100% carbon-free sources by the year 2045. The City’s electric utility, Silicon Valley Power, will soon require any interconnecting self-generation technology to only utilize State of California-adopted renewable generation and fuel sources, like solar, wind and biogas to produce electricity.
- Silicon Valley Power’s amended rules and regulations means all of its business customers, that have private generation facilities, will be required to make the same commitment to renewable energy the City is making.
- In an effort to meet the City’s and State goals for sustainability and fighting climate change, the City has committed that it will only acquire new energy that is renewable and/or Greenhouse Gas (GHG) free.
- The City Council has taken significant actions to meet this commitment and, over the last five years, the City has acquired over 400 Megawatts of additional GHG-free energy and closed a coal-powered plant. The closure of the plant was ahead of schedule, and although not financially beneficial, it was the right thing to do in support of sustainability and fighting climate change.
This is a strategic advancement and consistent with Silicon Valley Power’s leadership in the area of advancing its use of renewable energy. In 2018 the City Council approved the Silicon Valley Power Strategic Plan. The Plan included four strategic areas including Community and Environmental Stewardship. This strategic area reflects the City’s commitment to sustainability and renewable energy, and includes goals such as ensuring that we meet and exceed renewable energy goals, reduce GHG emissions, and develop electric vehicle infrastructure.
The new policy applies to: all customers, without a complete application by June 1, 2019, to interconnect to a new self-generation resource as well as customer requests to increase the capacity rating of existing generation facilities. It would not apply to: self-generation resource with existing interconnection agreements nor backup generation, as the backups typically run on a limited, as-needed basis with low impact to air quality.
At the May 7, 2019 City Council meeting, dozens of people spoke in support of Bloom Energy. Currently, in Santa Clara, Bloom fuel cells use natural gas, a non-renewable energy source that continuously emit GHG when they generate power. As a result, their increased usage would run contrary to the clean energy goals set by the City and State.
Although the Council action has been referred to as a ban on Bloom Energy fuel cells, that is not accurate and, unfortunately, is promoting confusion on the actual action that the City took. Bloom Energy could continue to install their fuel cells in Santa Clara if they choose to use renewable fuels, serve as backup generation, or disconnect from the City utility. Bloom has previously told the City it does not prefer these alternatives as it will affect their profit margin.
As a Public Electric Utility, Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Power is not driven by profits, as reflected in its significant lower utility rates when compared to other private sector utilities. Silicon Valley Power is community and policy driven, which is reflected in the many green policies that it promotes, reduced rates and its strategic plan. For example, this year’s proposed budget advances a Program Manager to oversee a $12.5 million fund to reduce green-house gas emissions; likewise, the support of renewable energy and sustainability further reflect these community values. The City has also shown that being sustainable does not have to affect success. Silicon Valley Power sales have increased by approximately 50% since 2005 and have posted increases for eight of the last nine years. Silicon Valley Power is one of few public electric utilities in California with an upward trajectory of growth. In 2017, Silicon Valley Power also achieved 36% renewable and 72% HGH free energy and, since January 2018, Silicon Valley Power has been delivering GHG-free energy to all residential customers. All this was accomplished while maintaining the lowest electricity rates in Santa Clara County. Unfortunately, private sector’s focus on profits has been confused with our public sector mission.
Suds Jain, a City of Santa Clara Planning Commissioner and community leader in sustainability, spoke at the meeting and stated that “We are in a climate crisis” and “SVP is getting cleaner and cleaner every year” while Bloom is “cherry picking facts.”
Bruce Karney, founding director of Carbon Free Silicon Valley, stated that “I come from Mountain View tonight because this policy is fantastic and I applaud the leadership of staff for developing it. Carbon is the biggest challenge that humanity faces.”
When it came time to vote, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution amending Silicon Valley Power’s rules and regulations to align with the City’s sustainability commitment and advance the City’s local climate action plan goals.
“By adopting these clean energy rules and regulations, we are reinforcing our environmental commitment to the community,” noted Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor. “In fact, we recently incorporated sustainability as one of seven City priorities.”
For more details, view the May 7, 2019 Council meeting and supporting documents.
About the City of Santa Clara
Located at the heart of Silicon Valley about 45 miles south of San Francisco, the City of Santa Clara truly is “The Center of What’s Possible.” Incorporated in 1852, Santa Clara covers an area of 19.3 square miles with a population of 120,000. Santa Clara is home to an extraordinary array of high-tech companies, including Applied Materials, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Nvidia, Oracle, and Ericsson. The City of Santa Clara is also home to Santa Clara University, California’s Great America Theme Park, and Levi’s® Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowl 50. For more information, go to www.SantaClaraCA.gov.
About Silicon Valley Power
Silicon Valley Power (SVP) is the trademark adopted for use by the not-for-profit electric municipal utility of Santa Clara, CA, serving residents and businesses for over 120 years. SVP provides power to nearly 55,000 customers, at rates 25 to 48 percent below neighboring communities. SVP is the only full service, vertically integrated publicly owned utility in Silicon Valley owning generation, transmission and distribution assets. See more at: http://www.siliconvalleypower.com/.
Kathleen Hughes, Sr. Division Manager – Customer Engagement
Lenka Wright, Director of Communications