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Customers in Santa Barbara County to get renewable electricity in January

Customers in Santa Barbara County to get renewable electricity in January

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Agricultural, business and residential electric service customers in Santa Maria, Solvang and unincorporated areas of northern Santa Barbara County will begin receiving electricity in January from Central Coast Community Energy, also known as 3CE.

Formerly known as Monterey Bay Community Power, the community-owned electricity provider is focused on delivering clean energy at competitive prices with local control along with incentives and rebates from various programs.

Customers do not need to take any action to start receiving electricity from 3CE, but they will see changes in the single electric bill they usually receive from their electricity service provider, in this case Pacific Gas and Electric Co., said Shelly Whitworth, a 3CE senior energy media specialist.

Enrollment in 3CE was previously approved for residents of Solvang and Santa Maria by their respective city councils and for unincorporated areas of the county by the Board of Supervisors.

“Joining 3CE provides a choice and more opportunities for customers,” said Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, who serves as a member of the provider’s policy board.

“3CE’s strong financial position and recent ‘A’ credit rating solidifies to enrolling customers of the viability and success of this agency in terms of competitive rates, sourcing clean and renewable energy and supporting local energy programs,” Patino said.

PG&E will continue delivering electricity, maintaining the delivery infrastructure and sending customers one monthly bill, but 3CE will now oversee electric generation — how and where customers’ electricity is generated.

PG&E’s bill still will contain the utility’s charges for electricity transmission and distribution but now will include a new line item for 3CE electric generation charges, Whitworth said.

She said that is not an additional charge but replaces PG&E’s generation charge, which will no longer be listed on the bill.

Customers will continue to have uninterrupted access to financial assistance programs, including CARE, FERA, Medical Baseline and California’s Climate Credits.

3CE’s renewable energy mix is currently higher than PG&E’s, Whitworth said, but the community-owned electricity provider has made a commitment to reach 60% clean and renewable energy by 2025 and 100% clean and renewable energy by 2030.

That’s 15 years sooner than California’s SB100 goals of 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045, she said.

3CE has already invested $1.14 billion in long-term renewable energy contracts and is seeking offers to provide long-duration renewable energy storage to increase its reliability.

Each customer will receive four mailed notices about the change, what it means for them and the process of enrollment.

Customers who have questions can take advantage of virtual office hours to speak with a 3CE representative and can attend a virtual public forum, both available in Spanish.

Virtual office hours are available at 4 p.m. Dec. 2, 6 p.m. Dec. 9, 4 p.m. Dec. 16 and 4 p.m. Jan. 7 in English and at 6 p.m. Dec. 22 in Spanish.

Virtual public forums are set for 6 p.m. Dec. 8 in English and 6 p.m. Dec. 10 in Spanish.

To sign up for the free office hours and public forums and to find more information, visit https://3cenergy.org/2021-enrollment/.

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