Starting January 1, 2018, Silicon Valley Power now 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. Carbon‑free electricity from Silicon Valley Power consists of 50% large hydroelectric power and 50% eligible renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas and small hydroelectric power plants.
As of January 1, 2018, all power provided to Silicon Valley Power customers (both residential and commercial) is coal‑free, generated by power plants that do not use coal to produce electricity.
Silicon Valley Power provides customers with choices for their electricity supply. Silicon Valley Power's 100% renewable energy option, Santa Clara Green Power, allows participants to cover 100% 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 Silicon Valley Power’s clean energy offerings.
As the not-for-profit, community-owned municipal electric utility for the City of Santa Clara, Silicon Valley Power acts on behalf of Santa Clara residents and businesses. Silicon Valley Power customers have asked for cleaner electricity choices and Silicon Valley Power has delivered, proactively providing customers with a diversified mix of energy resources, offering its 100% renewable energy option, Santa Clara Green Power, since 2004.
Silicon Valley Power 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% below 1990 levels by 2030 and the California Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to ensure 50% 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.
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, Silicon Valley Power considers this power to be carbon‑free.
The geothermal and biomass resources used by Silicon Valley Power 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, Silicon Valley Power’s 100% renewable option, Santa Clara Green Power, does not contain geothermal and landfill gas resources.
Your home’s electricity is generated from renewable resources and large hydroelectric facilities that do not emit carbon in order to produce electricity. Silicon Valley Power procures carbon-free power for your home through resources that Silicon Valley Power 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 Silicon Valley Power’s Power Content Label, starting in 2018.
Carbon‑free power resources will not impact the reliability of Silicon Valley Power’s electricity. Silicon Valley Power’s diverse set of power resources are connected to the dynamic electric grid, designed to handle variability in both supply and demand.
Silicon Valley Power residential customers should not expect any changes to the quality, reliability, or price of their power as a result of Silicon Valley Power’s switch to carbon‑free power for all residential customers. Silicon Valley Power 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.
Carbon‑free power resources will not impact the reliability of Silicon Valley Power’s electricity. Silicon Valley Power’s diverse set of power resources are connected to the dynamic electric grid, designed to handle variability in both supply and demand.
Santa Clara Green Power participants will continue to have all their electricity use matched with equal quantities of 100% 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 FAQ for any other questions.
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.
Yes. The power content for all Silicon Valley Power 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% renewables by 2030.
Previously, Silicon Valley Power’s electricity was generated by large and small hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, coal, and landfill gas resources.
Electric Vehicles FAQS
- Yes, Silicon Valley Power provides rebates for EV charging station equipment for qualifying customers. EVs are not eligible for a rebate. For more information, please see our electric vehicle charging station rebate program.
First, many EVs can be effectively charged overnight using a standard 110 volt outlet (what’s called a “Level 1” charger). Check with your EV manufacturer to see if this is sufficient for your vehicle.
If you decide you need a faster charger at home, installing a Level 2 Electric Vehicle (EV) charging system often requires changes to building wiring and utility electric services to meet the needs of this specialized equipment. You should:
- Talk to your EV manufacturer for information about what you need to charge your vehicle and what regulatory requirements there might be.
- Be sure to use a licensed Electrical contractor whose license is current for electrical work. The contractor should also follow the guidelines of the manufacturer and the requirements of City of Santa Clara building codes.
- Get a permit from the City before installing your charging system. Learn about Building Inspection Info and Guidelines for Commercial and Residential EV charging systems.
Though an individual Level 2 EV charger may have a negligible impact on the utility electric system, the combined effect of several Level 2 EV chargers in the same area could result in overloads on utility secondary wires and transformers. It is important that Silicon Valley Power is notified of any charging station installations to ensure that utility electrical system components are adequately sized to maintain high levels of service reliability.
Silicon Valley Power needs information on location (address), type of charging equipment, charging level (as defined by NEC, Article 625, see table below), and number of chargers or electric vehicles being installed.
Electric Vehicle Charging Levels, National Electric Code, Article 625 CHARGER Level Voltage (V) Maximum Current (A) Frequency (Hz) Power (kVA) 1 120 12 60 1.4 2 208/240 32 60 6.7 / 7.8 3 High Power, High Speed Charging – Defined by Manufacturer’s Requirements
Renewable Energy FAQS
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.
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.
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.
This program is revenue neutral for Silicon Valley Power. 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.
- Please view the Power Content Label to learn more about SVP's energy mix.
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.
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.
- When you choose Santa Clara Green Power, Silicon Valley Power purchases 100% of the energy you use from solar projects in the Western United States.
Santa Clara Green Power FAQS
- Santa Clara Green Power is a voluntary clean energy program offered by Silicon Valley Power that gives customers the ability to cover up to 100 percent of their electricity usage with renewable sources of power for minimal additional cost. When you enroll in the program, Silicon Valley Power purchases renewable energy certificates from western solar facilities in an amount equal to your entire electricity demand. 80 percent of the solar facilities are located right here in California.
- Santa Clara Green Power is offered to all residential and business customers of Silicon Valley Power.
- Residential participants pay an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to cover 100% of electric power usage with renewable energy. The average Santa Clara resident using around 500 kilowatt-hours a month will pay about $7.50 extra on their monthly utility bill.
Businesses also pay an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour or $15 per block of 1,000 kilowatt-hours. Commercial and industrial participants can qualify for lower prices per unit with larger purchase volumes. Contact email@example.com for more information on large purchases.
- Your participation in Santa Clara Green Power will be reflected in a separate line item on your monthly utility bill.
Because of the way that power grids work, electricity from a specific facility or source generally does not flow directly to a specific customer's home. However, when you enroll in Santa Clara Green Power, we guarantee that renewable energy in the exact amount of your electricity use is generated and delivered to Silicon Valley Power’s electricity grid (Western Electricity Coordinating Council region).
Individually and collectively, these purchases support the production of renewable energy, increase the financial value of power from renewable sources, and create a transparent and sustainable market that encourages new development of wind and solar facilities.
To learn more about how the electric grid works, visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website.
- RECs are sold separately from physical electricity and represent the legal rights to the environmental benefits of each megawatt-hour of green power produced by renewable energy generators. RECs purchased as part of the Santa Clara Green Power program are sourced from regional and national wind farms and solar projects in California. The RECs are verified and certified by Green-e Energy to avoid double counting and protect consumers against fraud.
When you sign up for Santa Clara Green Power, SVP contracts with certain renewable energy producers to buy enough certificates to match your consumption every month. The sale of these certificates financially encourages and enables renewable energy producers to build more wind and solar facilities.
Unlike electricity itself, renewable energy certificates can be stored up so you can buy solar energy when the sun is down and wind power when the air is calm—a win-win situation for everyone.
No. The existing power supply network assures uninterrupted electricity service throughout the day to your home or business even when there is intermittent sunlight. Additionally, RECs purchased through the Santa Clara Green Power program represent the environmental attributes of renewable energy, not the physical energy.
No. Your power does not come from the older style of wind turbines, which have been the subject of recent controversy regarding wildlife issues. Santa Clara Green Power comes from modern wind turbines that have come online in the past fifteen years, where bird deaths are infrequent due to three changes that have taken place.
- Prospective sites for wind farms are carefully evaluated to ensure they do not fall in migration routes
- Turbine blades are much larger and move more slowly
- Modern turbines are built in such a way as to prevent nesting in turbine ballasts
A recent large-scale study found that only 1.7 birds were killed annually by each turbine at the Stateline facility, a large wind facility in Oregon, and that none of these birds were on any federal or state endangered species lists.
- Only “new” renewables from facilities that have come online in the past 15 years are eligible to meet Green-e Energy standards. Santa Clara Green Power’s portfolio is sourced entirely from “new” renewable energy facilities that have come online since 2001.
- Participants can meet their personal or corporate sustainability goals in a cost-effective manner and are recognized among Santa Clara’s environmental leaders. Additionally, participants receive a welcome kit, which includes certification of their contribution to the environment. Participants also receive regular program updates through the Santa Clara Green Power e-newsletter and other materials.
There are three ways to enroll.
- You can enroll online by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on our website
- You can call 408-244-SAVE (7283)
- You can fill out and mail in one of our bill inserts in your utility bill or brochures found throughout the community, or download the enrollment form
Commercial and Industrial customers should contact a Key Customer Representative at email@example.com to discuss their options.
3Degrees is a California-based provider of green power and carbon offset products and services to Fortune 500 companies, utilities, green building firms and other organizations that are working to make their operations, products and services more sustainable.
- The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) ranked Silicon Valley Power #6 for customer participation in a Green Power Program (Santa Clara Green Power) with participation at 9.35 percent (based on 2017 data), For more information see the Top Ten list for Customer Participation Rate, NREL.
- Silicon Valley Power’s Santa Clara Green Power Program was ranked #2 of 10 Green Power Programs for its high percentage of sales. In 2017, Santa Clara Green Power customers purchased 12.15 percent of the total electricity sold by Silicon Valley Power. For more information see the Top Ten list for Green Power Sales as a Percentage of Total Retail Electricity Sales, NREL.
- The green power program also placed #8 for Top Green Power Sales in 2017 after selling a record 423,808 Megawatt-hours. For more information see the Top Ten list for Green Power Sales as a Percentage of Total Retail Electricity Sales, NREL.
- In 2010, the City of Santa Clara secured the top spot in the EPA’s Green Power Community rankings with more than 163,000 MWh of the community’s electricity usage coming from voluntary purchases of green power. The City has continued to be a top ranking member of the EPA Green Power Communities list, most recently placing at #4 with over 400,000 MWh of green power used in the City.
- In 2015, Silicon Valley Power’s Santa Clara Green Power won the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Supplier of the Year Award. The award recognizes leading green power providers for outstanding efforts, initiatives, and programs that promote the use of green power within homes and businesses and advance the development of green power sources.
A PV system uses the photovoltaic effect to capture sunlight and produce electricity that can power your home. Find out if a PV system is right for you.
No. The majority of PV systems are grid-connected systems where you will get power from both your PV system and Silicon Valley Power. However, you could have a stand-alone or off-grid system where you solely use energy from your PV system, but these systems are rare.
A PV system can last more than 25 years.
Your PV panels typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years but last a lot longer than that. However, after 25 years, your panels might produce less energy than previously guaranteed by the manufacturer.
Your inverters will likely last 10 to 15 years and come with a manufacturer’s warranty of 10 years. You will need to replace these during the lifespan of your PV panels.
Minimal maintenance is required. You may need to wash your panels and keep them free of debris a few times a year.
Going solar is a low-risk investment. However, since Silicon Valley Power has one of the lowest electric rates in California, a PV system may have less financial benefits than a PV system in a different electric utility’s territory.
Yes. Net energy metering allows customers to offset their electric usage by exporting power to the electric grid. Read more about net energy metering and your bill here.
Silicon Valley Power (SVP) is the City of Santa Clara's municipal electric utility. As a department of the City, Silicon Valley Power has been providing electricity to Santa Clara residents and businesses since July 23, 1896. If you're interested, you can learn more about our history.
Santa Clara residents own their electric utility, Silicon Valley Power. Because they own this not-for-profit utility, service levels are high and rates are lower than in surrounding communities. In addition, power is reliable and comes from a more environmentally sound mix than is provided by other utilities.
Although rates vary depending on usage, the electric rates for residents in the City of Santa Clara are about half of what customers pay in surrounding cities.
- The best way to lower your electric bill is to use electricity more efficiently. Silicon Valley Power can come out to your home or business to give you individual recommendations on ways to reduce costs. Residents can set up an appointment by calling 408-244-SAVE (7283), businesses can call 408-615-6650. Silicon Valley Power also provides a variety of rebates to residents and businesses for installing energy efficient equipment and appliances. Other ways that you can quickly reduce your electric bill include the following:
- Turn off equipment that is not needed.
- Set your programmable thermostat to have the heating or air conditioning go off when no one is there or at night. Set thermostat temperatures no higher than 68F in the winter and no lower than 78F in the summer.
- When it is time to replace equipment and appliances, purchase and install ENERGY STAR® labeled products.
For more tips on energy efficiency, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-244-SAVE (7283).
- SVP's published Power Content Label shows the breakdown of sources of electricity purchased by the utility for distribution to Santa Clara residents and businesses. Starting in the 1980's, SVP began to diversify its power sources both by fuel type and by geography as indicated in our resource map. Although we can expect shifts in this mix from year-to-year based on weather and changing power costs, the emphasis for SVP remains in acquiring longer-term resources that help stabilize rates as much as possible. Renewable resources aid substantially in rate stabilization, but sources like wind and solar often come at a premium
Santa Clara currently generates approximately 16% of its energy within city limits. The remainder of energy needs comes from a diverse set of resources owned and contracted for throughout California and Western United States.
Yes. SVP currently has a power mix with nearly twice the amount of renewable energy than the statewide average. SVP has an active plan to secure even more renewable energy for all customers and provides unique options for individual customers to purchase 100% renewable power and/or contribute to the installation of solar systems on non-profit facilities in Santa Clara.
- Watch your mail, your bill, your newspaper, and this website for continuously updated material. In addition, you may connect with us through Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and WordPress. You may also sign up for our electronic newsletters: Watt’s Up SVP? for residential information and the SVP Energy Insider for businesses. Also, Comcast Cable Government Channel 15 (where available) and your local library will have information for you.
SVP MeterConnect FAQS
An advanced meter offers accurate and detailed measurement of electricity usage that can be remotely read by the utility from its offices. Before long, customers will be able to monitor their personal usage either online or with a display in their home. The SVP Meter Connect ® advanced meters will, in time, be able to communicate with appliances in the home that are programmed by the owner to operate at maximum efficiency, thereby reducing energy usage and cost. The advanced meters will also allow SVP to quickly pinpoint power problems and outages, allowing faster response to trouble spots and confirmation when your power is restored.
Modern advanced meters are replacing first generation digital meters and antiquated mechanical meters that use 100-year-old technology. Neither of these older technologies allow customers to easily monitor or control their energy usage. Advanced meters from reputable manufacturers have been proven to be accurate, and over 300 million of these meters have been successfully installed worldwide in the last five years. Experts in the U.S. and abroad predict that there will be one billion smart meters in operation by 2016. The new technology is being adopted so quickly that meter manufacturers are rapidly abandoning mechanical meter production in order to produce more modern advanced or smart meters. PG&E has already converted all gas meters in Santa Clara to this new technology.
Energy rates are increasing primarily due to factors unrelated to meters, such as the rising cost of energy and the expense of bringing it to Santa Clara. Electric advanced meters will allow customers to monitor and adjust their electricity usage, which has been shown to lower electric bills for most customers. SVP expects rates to remain lower than almost all utilities in California for the foreseeable future.
SVP will immediately respond to customer questions about their new meters, which are 10 times more accurate than mechanical meters. Accuracy will be confirmed if necessary, and an SVP staff member will personally answer any questions that arise from customer concerns. SVP will be testing your old meter and your new meter for accuracy. If your old meter was running slow (most likely) or fast we will notify you of the results before recycling it.
No. SVP Meter Connect® has chosen a different manufacturer, Elster Group, which has manufactured measuring devices for over 170 years and already provided over 7 million advanced meters to North American and overseas utilities. SVP and the manufacturer have a multi-level testing procedure to assure that the advanced meters installed in Santa Clara are accurate and reliable. One big difference between SVP’s advanced meters and those used by PG&E is that the SVP meters will use 75% less power than the PG&E meters to transmit information.
Since 2007, SVP has been testing the communications technology that connects meters and their readings to the utility and to the customer. The advanced smart meter technology has been successfully implemented at over 300 million businesses and homes worldwide.
- An independent survey of Silicon Valley Power customers found that more than two-thirds of SVP customers (68%) consider advanced metering a good idea. SVP is working hard to address all customer concerns about advanced metering, and will inform customers of plans to install advanced meters before meters are deployed.
Climate change is directly impacted by how much energy we use and the type of appliances we choose. An advanced meter is just one part of the “smart grid” which will give utilities more insight into how electricity is sourced, distributed and delivered. At the local level, advanced meters will provide customers with more information. Using less electricity overall reduces the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants released into the atmosphere – a benefit to everyone. Customers will have visibility into how energy is used from hour-to-hour and can adjust their usage to save electricity and money.
The smart grid refers to the entire upgraded electrical system of the region, state or country. Advanced or “smart” meter technology is the foundation of the smart grid. The smart grid will help SVP better manage how energy is delivered to customers.
SVP is concerned about reports of EMF, or electromagnetic radiation, from advanced meters. Nearly every electrical device in your home generates some EMF. A key feature of the advanced technology chosen by SVP Meter Connect® is that the new meters use one-fourth or less of the transmitting power of other smart meters and significantly less than everyday devices in homes. SVP and its supplier monitor the meter safety data resulting from testing performed by independent and government agencies and fully comply with the adopted standards.
SVP shares customer concerns about radio frequency interference (RFI) that may affect common household electronic devices. Unlike the smart meters used by PG&E and many other utilities, the advanced meters to be used by SVP transmit information less frequently, at a lower power, and on fewer frequencies that conflict with household devices. Nevertheless, SVP is closely monitoring the RFI testing carried out by independent consumer and government entities. Because SVP is taking a careful, slow approach to the deployment of advanced meters in our community, it will learn from the mistakes and experiences of other utilities and work to avoid or remedy the problems experienced in other communities.
Yes. Eventually all Santa Clara residents and businesses will have advanced meters for both electricity and water services which are provided by the City, and PG&E has already installed smart meters for gas in Santa Clara. But SVP is using a slow, careful, phased approach that started with 100 meters, then 1,000 and soon 10,000 before moving across the entire City. This approach allows SVP to test and approve each phase before advanced meters are installed throughout Santa Clara.
SVP has plans to install advanced meters Santa Clara in phases from late 2015 through 2016. About 7,000 residences do have simple digital meters with radio transmitters, which allow meter readers to collect usage data once a month without entering private property. New advanced meters, which use a fraction of the power to transmit and receive, will replace all of the older digital meters in the City.
Numerous surveys and pilot programs show that people who can see their energy usage in a more immediate manner than a monthly bill become more aware of how they use energy and when there is energy waste. Awareness leads consumers to change their habits to become more energy efficient and spend less on energy. For instance, if a customer sees that their energy usage remains high when their home is empty during the day, they may decide to turn off lights, unplug unused devices and lower their thermostat when out of the house. Customers are often surprised at how much energy is used when they are not at home or sound asleep.
How much you interact with the new technology when the system is activated in 2016-2017 is up to you. SVP Meter Connect ® will eventually give you an opportunity to monitor your electricity usage and decide where you can save energy and money. In the future, “smart” appliances that are programmed by the owner to operate more efficiently will allow you to better control energy usage while maintaining or even improving the comfort of your home. These “smart appliances” will include air conditioners, refrigerators, pool pumps and more.
Solar installations will not be affected by your advanced meter.
Yes. In fact, electric car “smart” charging stations for use at your home are rapidly becoming popular. Your advanced meter may eventually work with your car charger as well as your appliances to use power more efficiently while saving energy and minimizing costs.
No. SVP operates as a not-for-profit city utility and steers all benefits back to customers. This is one reason why SVP’s rates are 25-44% lower than the rates charged in neighboring communities.
There is no direct charge for this or other utility system upgrades. Meters, like other equipment upgrades made to the utility system, are already included in the capital expenses of the utility. Better management of how SVP supplies power and how customers consume power will lead to savings for all. SVP anticipates that, over time, the utility will save money to cover costs of the advanced meters. Any investment that saves money and keeps expenses and rates down is worthwhile, especially when SVP faces the rising price of purchasing electricity, its biggest expense.
How can SVP spend money installing new meters when the rest of the city is cutting programs and other expenses?
Capital expenditures are a continuous process at the electric utility in order to keep the equipment up to date and reliable. This project has been underway for several years as we laid the foundation for the new meters. In order to reap the benefits of these investments, SVP must complete the communications network and the meter installations. SVP funding is collected separately through bills for electricity usage, whereas many city programs must rely on taxes and other revenue sources. SVP rates are expected to remain among the lowest in California.
Yes. Advanced meters from SVP only measure electricity.
The technology investment being made for advanced electric meters has been carefully chosen in order to ensure that it will support remotely read water meters as well. As the requirements and capital projects of the water utility allow, the City of Santa Clara may be installing new water meters. SVP will not be funding water meter replacements, as these would be the responsibility of the water utility. Like electricity, the more information on how water is used in homes or businesses gives customers the ability to achieve substantial savings.
PG&E is the natural gas supplier for Santa Clara residents, and PG&E is has already installed their SmartMeterTM technology on gas meters in Santa Clara. The City does not supply natural gas within Santa Clara.
In contrast to some other California utilities that bought meters from a new manufacturer, SVP is purchasing advanced meters from a company that has more than 170 years of experience in manufacturing measurement devices, and which has installed millions of advanced meters with no reported accuracy problems, and with very few customer complaints. Meters are tested at the factory and again when they arrive in Santa Clara.
Once all systems are completed, all electric and water meters will be read remotely. Customers eventually will also have access to their on-going energy usage either through a secure personal web site or on a display meter in their home. In other words, you will be able to read your meter and understand how you use energy every day.
Immediately upon installation, you will see an easy-to-read digital display instead of the old-style dial indicators. Next year, you will have the option to register on a free secure web site to monitor your usage. You may also have an option to have a display installed in your home that will give you incremental readouts of your energy usage so you can see when you use the most or the least energy in real time. Further information about these alternatives will be provided as these capabilities are readied.
Advanced meters of SVP Meter Connect ® will communicate with SVP offices using a secure Wi-Fi system mounted on streetlights in the City of Santa Clara. This Wi-Fi system is also improving communications within other city services. City residents will also have free outdoor Wi-Fi internet service from this system. Although the same equipment will be used, very different security strategies will be engaged for meter information, which is encrypted from the meter and only decrypted once behind our secure firewalls.
Energy usage privacy is protected by law, just as your telephone usage privacy is protected by law. SVP is taking great care to implement a state-of-the-art, secure advanced meter communications facility. The level of security in the SVP Meter Connect ® network is similar to the level of security used in the banking industry and sensitive government agencies.
SVP protects your privacy as it has for over 100 years, and state law also protects your privacy.
Time of Use, or TOU, describes the different rates charged by some utilities for electricity at different times of the day. TOU is just one of the options made supported by advanced meter technology. SVP will consider all options for improving service and efficiency for customers before implementing any changes to its rate structure. SVP is not considering expansion of its TOU option at this time. SVP prefers to keep its rate structure simple and low-cost, with rates 25-44% lower than nearby utilities. The flexibility and reliability of modern advanced
Meter readers will still be needed until the SVP MeterConnect system is completed and activated in 2016-2017 and all meter reading is automated. In preparation for the wireless system coming online, the City of Santa Clara Utilities Department has been hiring part-time staff to take the place of meter readers who retire or otherwise leave the department. Any remaining full time meter readers will be offered retraining for other utility jobs when the system is activated.