MCE has worked to address the specific challenges that confront historically marginalized communities within our service area in a variety of ways, such as:
- sponsoring workforce development training,
- supporting local hire requirements for local renewable energy projects,
- reducing our generation rates to save customers money,
- advocating for low-income customers to be excluded from the PCIA “exit fee,”
- offering low-income solar rebates and thereby expanding access to MCE’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) cash-out, and
- providing energy efficiency installations in affordable housing units.
Low-income communities are key participants in building the future energy economy, and we believe our inclusive policies and programs can serve as a model for other Community Choice programs eager to accelerate a just transition to a sustainable energy economy.
Energy efficiency rebates
MCE helps catalyze local workforce development by incentivizing and facilitating local projects and working with partners like RichmondBUILD
Advocating for affordable rates
Coalition members advocating for lower rates by reducing the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA)
As of 2016, the Community Power Coalition represents organizations from all corners of MCE’s service area. By having a unified platform for all these voices and perspectives, MCE hopes to create a space where a cross-pollination of ideas and collaborations can diversify and strengthen membership benefits. Not only does this promote a multi-cultural, interdisciplinary understanding of our communities, but it also allows MCE to inform a broad base of the opportunities for involvement in the Community Choice movement in California.
By facilitating low-risk access to renewable energy and complimenting those efforts with multi-lingual educational materials and community engagement, Community Choice Aggregation challenges the idea that clean energy is only for the affluent, thus helping change the existing narrative to be one that is more inclusive of all communities, including those that have been historically marginalized and underrepresented. Everyone, regardless of income, can now make a personal and political decision about their energy supply without facing the financial barriers of installing their own system.
If access is considered the first step toward engagement, and engagement is the first step toward empowerment, then it’s easy to understand how Community Choice is a natural tool for environmental justice. These partnerships with community and grassroots policy advocacy organizations represented by the Community Power Coalition help MCE advance sustainable development and statewide policy goals by leveraging the CCA energy model as a tool for environmental justice.
“We all need to think about what is actually involved when we turn on a light or recharge our devices. Energy, and the politics surrounding it, is complicated. Being part of the Coalition has pushed me to try to understand the complexity and the urgency. And it is encouraging to be around the passion and engagement of the other advocates.”
“Working with MCE and the Community Power Coalition has been a great pleasure, everyone I have come in contact with is working hard to make a difference.”
“MCE’s Community Power Coalition has provided a valuable platform for community advocates to stay informed and collaborate on topics of energy, climate action and environmental justice.”
“MCE, by being the first CCE program in CA and showing it is possible to create more renewable than the IOU’s were saying they could do, and sharing their expertise, have done so much to create the reputation of our state as a model for renewable energy development.”
Want to learn more about what MCE can offer your communities? Check out the following:
- MCE’s Low-Income Tenants and Families (LIFT) program launched in October 2017 to address energy efficiency needs in disadvantaged and hidden communities. LIFT includes funds to fuel-switch to heat pumps.
- From 2010 to 2017, MCE has allocated $155,000 in low-income solar rebates, administered by GRID Alternatives. To date, MCE has helped fund 68 solar installations for low-income families, representing 167 kWs of new, local solar, $1.5 million in expected energy savings in avoided electricity costs, and a reduction of approximately 3,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
- MCE has been one of the few parties to advocate for low-income CCA customers at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). For example, we partnered with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), on a motion examining the fairness of applying the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) to rate-payers who low-income energy discount, CARE.
- MCE’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency program prioritizes Affordable Housing developments by providing free energy assessments, free energy and water-saving measures for tenants, and free technical assistance to develop a comprehensive scope of work.
- In 2016, MCE coordinated a bilingual campaign with SmartLights for to offer energy efficiency for small businesses in San Pablo, where 45.1% of residents are foreign born. Over 2 days, a 3-person team went door-to-door offering free energy audits and direct install measures to hard-to-reach businesses. They visited 39 businesses, provided bilingual information and applications to 29 of those, 8 did an energy audit on the spot.
- Inspired by the 2016 work in San Pablo, in 2017 MCE partnered with East Bay Energy Watch (EBEW) and the City of Richmond on ‘Energize Richmond,’ another bilingual door-to-door energy efficiency push. Over 4 days of pounding pavement along 23rd St and Macdonald ave, MCE and EBEW spoke to 85 small businesses offering additional rebates from the City of Richmond that -in most cases- completely covered the total cost of an update. 64% businesses did a free assessment and energy audit on the spot, 58% spoke English as a second language. Ultimately, 73 businesses (85%!) completed the proposed energy efficiency upgrade. This roughly represents a 394,688 kWh projected energy savings. This was made possible by $122,000 in incentives invested by the City of Richmond and $87,134 in incentives invested by EBEW and MCE.
- In 2016, MCE provided $85,000 to Rising Sun Energy Center to support workforce development training for youth in San Pablo and El Cerrito.
- MCE has facilitated local ‘green collar’ job creation through its Feed-In Tariff, which provides higher than market rates for local renewable energy development, incentivizing local investment. There have also been noteworthy projects like Solar One in Richmond, which has a 50% minimum local hire requirement. This requirement was largely met by partnering with RichmondBUILD, which trains local workers from under-served populations and low-income households. 95% of participants are minorities and over 30% have a history with the justice system.