by Ann McCormick - City of Alameda Public Utilities Board PresidentWhen Earth Day first launched in 1970, it signaled the rise of the modern environmental movement in the United States. Today, more than one billion people celebrate Earth Day across the globe, bringing international attention to the environment.
Here in Alameda, we can take inspiration from the legacy of Earth Day as we address our island’s environmental challenges.
I am proud of our city’s Public Utilities Board and Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) for our work to protect Alameda and the planet from the harmful effects of climate change.
As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, I am happy to share information about AMP’s history and current policies so Alamedans can better understand our community-owned utility’s long and ongoing commitment to the environment.
Supporting Clean Energy for Decades
In the 1980s, AMP was one of the first utilities to invest heavily in renewable power through development of geothermal resources at the Geysers in Northern California. This was followed by years of investment in other renewable energy sources including wind, landfill gas and hydropower. By 2011, the utility easily exceeded the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, that requires electric utilities to purchase a growing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
In fact, AMP developed so much renewable energy that we have been able to strategically sell portions of it on a short-term basis to other utilities struggling to meet the state RPS mandate. AMP estimates that these renewable energy credit agreements (referred to as REC sales), which run from 2012 to 2019, will generate about $32 million of additional revenue to our utility.
At the direction of the Public Utilities Board, the funds from these short-term sales must be used for local investments in programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity use.
To date, AMP has used approximately $15 million of this funding for energy-saving projects to help residents, businesses, schools and city facilities reduce their energy use with upgrades to lighting, appliances, HVAC, refrigeration and more. Staff is currently evaluating a community solar program and planning more greenhouse gas reducing projects.
Additionally, AMP has used some of this funding on a comprehensive metering infrastructure upgrade, enabling the utility to bring the many benefits of current smart meter technology to Alamedans. This allows our customers to continue to benefit from rates that average 15 percent to 17 percent lower than those in surrounding areas served by PG&E or East Bay Community Energy. With the more comprehensive data from digital meters, Alamedans will be able to further lower their carbon footprint because AMP will be able to develop more effective energy efficiency, solar and electric vehicle programs.
AMP’s short-term sales of renewable energy end in 2019. I am proud to announce that 100 percent of AMP’s resources will be carbon neutral starting in 2020. As a result of diligent planning and aggressive goals, we will meet our energy needs with only carbon-free power for years to come.AMP’s short-term sales of renewable energy end in 2019. I am proud to announce that 100 percent of AMP’s resources will be carbon neutral starting in 2020. As a result of diligent planning and aggressive goals, we will meet our energy needs with only carbon-free power for years to come.
This achievement aligns with the ambitious and important goals outlined in the city of Alameda’s Local Action Plan for Climate Protection. AMP participates on the city’s Green Team, which is working to update the climate action plan.
Helping Alameda Go Green
While AMP is working hard to address climate change, the success of our programs depends on your participation. We encourage you to join Alameda Green and participate in rebate programs for purchasing electric vehicle chargers or improving your energy efficiency.
I invite you to join AMP and Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA) at the “Green Your Dream Home” public workshops. The series begins on May 17 with a session on electric vehicles. A second session on installing solar energy at your home will be held in June.
Find details about these and all of our programs at www.alamedamp.com or visit us at our booth at the city of Alameda’s Earth Day festival on April 21.
The 20 million people who launched a national movement on Earth Day 1970 laid the foundation for our ongoing and critical work to combat global climate change. At AMP, our mission is to provide energy that is as clean, reliable and affordable as possible while contributing to our community. We are proud of the progress we have made, but know it will require all of us working together to protect our island city’s environment now and in the future.
Ann McCormick is president of the city of Alameda’s Public Utilities Board.
Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) is a department of the city of Alameda that has served residents and businesses for 132 years. AMP provides power to more than 34,000 customers at rates that average 17 percent below neighboring communities.