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California's green energy future 

My head nearly exploded reading the op-ed "California's green energy scam" (Oct. 24). Like many letters opposing community choice energy, it has some correct information and adds in some incorrect information—and lets the imagination run wild. If I understand the commentary, somehow if PG&E doesn't buy the energy we receive, we are going to become Venezuela or Cuba because it is a slippery slope when government gets in the energy business. But didn't the government create the Tennessee Valley Authority to generate energy in 1933? Bonneville Power in 1939? If these giant public corporations didn't make us communists, I am pretty sure having a government agency buy the energy PG&E delivers to the Central Coast isn't going to do it.

I have lived in San Luis Obispo for almost 10 years. PG&E has raised their rates seemingly every year. Next year will be Monterey Bay Community Power's (MBCP) third year providing energy to customers, and they have reduced the cost of energy each year.

MBCP started by purchasing low-cost, carbon-free hydro, solar, and wind from sources in California and the Northwest. All the generation facilities are tied to our grid as California is part of the Western Energy Coordinating Council (WECC) grid. With this strategy, MBCP was able to build financial reserves and fund programs that reduce energy costs and carbon emissions while promoting local resiliency. Plus MBCP matched PG&E rates and then was able to provide their customers rebates starting at 3 percent, which was increased to 5 percent last year and will be 7 percent starting in January when the cities of SLO and Morro Bay begin receiving energy from MBCP. In 2021, MBCP is projected to achieve its financial reserve target of $175 million, and more funds can be allocated to customer savings. So when four other SLO County cities begin receiving energy from MBCP, customer savings could be dramatically higher. Double?

MBCP is contracting for new renewable energy projects. Last year, MBCP signed long-term contracts for two solar-plus-storage projects and a wind farm. Currently MBCP is working on two more solar-plus-storage projects and two geothermal projects. When these renewable energy projects are online, they will be producing more than 40 percent of the energy MBCP provides its customers.

The future of the energy supplied to the Central Coast seems to be in good hands: lower energy costs and new renewable generating facilities. Residents of the cities of SLO and Morro Bay will be receiving their first notice about MBCP in November. The best thing is that if you want carbon-free energy and to save money compared to PG&E, all you have to do is nothing.

John Smigelski

San Luis Obispo

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Speaking of Monterey Bay Community Power, MBCP

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