Chavez Park Conservancy Treasurer Lana Lew reports that we have received a check for $2,500.00 from East Bay Community Energy toward the development of the Native Plant Pollinator Garden in the Native Plant Area of the park. The funds are one of the Community Sponsorship grants that EBCE awards three times per year. Among recent grantees are the Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehab Center, Davis Street Community Center, Tracy Community Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble, Berkeley Food Network, Berkeley Food Pantry, and others.
EBCE is a new face on the power grid. It was established in 2018 to increase the amount of clean, renewable electric power available to customers in 14 Alameda County cities — Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Newark, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, and Union City as well as the City of Tracy. All electric customers in those cities are automatically enrolled in EBCE, although one can opt out. EBCE is one of numerous similar agencies statewide created under the Community Choice Energy program by Assembly Bill 117 in 2002. They’re organized into the State Power Alliance, all working to liberate electric customers from the privately owned, profit-driven PG&E-type monopolies. A similar entity operates in Marin County.
Unlike PG&E, EBCE is a nonprofit governmental agency. It has no shareholders and no profit imperative. Its governing board is composed of 15 members, each an elected official from a city in the EBCE service area. The Berkeley director is Vice Mayor Kate Harrison.
EBCE buys as much power as is available from clean, carbon-free and renewable energy sources. Solar and wind are its chief sources. It channels that power through the PGE transmission network, and PG&E continues to handle maintenance, service, and its other regular activities. EBCE offers two options, its regular plan which delivers electricity from just shy of 50 percent clean sources, and its 100% plan which provides electricity from wind and solar exclusively. The regular plan is slightly cheaper than PG&E; the 100% plan costs one cent more per kilowatt/hour. Unlike PG&E’s own “green” energy plan, which comes 40 per cent from nuclear, EBCE’s electricity on the standard plan includes no nuclear, except to the extent that some of the power it buys on the open market may contain up to one percent nuclear sources. EBCE also gets some power from small hydroelectric projects.
EBCE regularly invests in building additional clean and carbon-free power sources, and anticipates providing 100 percent clean power to all customers by 2030, a full 15 years before the goal that the state has set. The transition to 100 percent renewable is slated to occur much earlier in Berkeley, possibly already by the end of the current year.
The Conservancy is grateful to EBCE for its grant. We do not, repeat NOT, intend to let BMASP demolish the Native Plant Area and turn it into Coney Island. We will invest donated funds and labor in the Native Plant Pollinator Garden, and we will defend it by whatever means necessary.