A new Turlock Irrigation District initiative may allow users to purchase 100 percent renewable energy.
The BGreen Program would give TID customers the option to pay an additional floating rate for each kilowatt-hour of energy used, amounting to between $10 and $40 a month for most residential customers. That extra money would go to purchasing Renewable Energy Credits, effectively offsetting the electricity used by the consumer with green energy generated elsewhere in the United States.
“TID does have a commitment to green energy, and this program will allow us to be as green as the customers want us to be,” said TID Utility Rate Analyst Chris Poley.
RECs are created when electricity is generated from a renewable energy resource. Those certificates can be bought and sold, allowing the purchaser to claim the energy production against federally mandated renewable energy standards. All TID REC purchases would be above and beyond the District’s current renewable energy portfolio, ensuring the program adds new green energy to TID above existing and mandated levels.
The charge to consumers would be capped at four cents per kWh, due to the volatile REC market. Should REC prices exceed that amount, the District would only purchase as many RECs as the BGreen funds would allow.
The BGreen Program is the District’s second attempt at a green energy program. An earlier effort – running from 2000 to 2002 and drawing between 22 and 25 users – allowed customers to pay a flat rate of either $2.50 or $5 per month, but was discontinued as the program didn’t provide a means to fund renewable purchases.
“The reason that we discontinued that rate schedule was that we really had no way of giving the customers something extra for what they were paying,” Poley said.
The new BGreen plan still awaits final approval from the TID Board of Directors, expected at a meeting in December. The BGreen Program will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, if approved.
The District also heard plans to revise rates for street lighting and power generating customers on Tuesday, aimed at emerging green technologies.
The street lighting rate, primarily paid by cities for streetlights, would add a new rate of $2.70 per light plus 8.5 cents per kWh for lamps not indicated on the antiquated pay scale. Currently, users pay a fixed rate per lamp per month, based on the mathematically derived energy draw of oft-used mercury vapor and sodium vapor lamps.
The rate change would allow customers to pay less for new-style lamps using LED bulbs or induction lighting, both of which are more energy efficient but were still charged a flat rate based on the wasteful older lamps under the existing schedule. The City of Turlock is currently undergoing a project to transition more than 2,000 existing streetlights to induction bulbs.
The rate change will reduce TID revenues by about $3,000 annually.
A change to the net metered rate, paid by customers with on-site power generation such as solar panels, would split residential and small commercial consumers into two separate rate groups.
Currently, some customers don’t receive the full value of their generated energy due to an oddity in the billing cycle. The change would ensure that energy credits are not lost, and would pay users approximately 8.4 cents per kWh generated in excess of their annual use.
The TID Board of Directors will consider the rate changes at a public hearing expected in December, with the new rates going into effect on Jan. 1, 2011 if approved.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.