Community Power Coalition training session, advocates seated at tables in MCE's Concord office learning about Deep Green

Community Power Coalition

MCE’s Community Power Coalition is a collective powerhouse of advocates working on sustainability, environmental justice, and disadvantaged community issues through collaboration with local partners and open dialogue with our communities.

Our Mission

Purpose

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 income-qualified solar rebates and thereby expanding access to MCE’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) cash-out, and
  • providing energy efficiency installations in affordable housing units.

Disadvantaged 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.

MCE and East Bay Energy Watch staff members smile inside local San Pablo market promoting energy efficiency

Energy efficiency rebates

MCE partners with East Bay Energy Watch and SmartLights to provide energy efficiency upgrades to small, hard-to-reach businesses

MCE Solar One construction worker, wearing safety vest and glasses, hard hat, smiling in front of solar array

Local green-collar jobs

MCE helps catalyze local workforce development by incentivizing and facilitating local projects and working with partners like RichmondBUILD

MCE staff member, four GRID Alternatives staff members, smile on top of roof while installing solar system

Income-qualified solar rebates

MCE’s income-qualified solar rebates are administered through GRID Alternatives’s Energy for All program for income-qualified families in our communities

large group of protestors holding signs, advocating for the environment, in front of California Public Utilities Commission

Advocating for affordable rates

Coalition members advocating for lower rates by reducing the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA)

Priorities

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 collaboration serve to 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 about involvement opportunities in California’s Community Choice movement.

By facilitating low-risk access to renewable energy and complimenting those efforts with multi-lingual educational materials and community engagement, Community Choice Aggregation is helping to change the narrative from one that promotes clean energy for the affluent to one that is 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. The partnerships with community and grassroots policy advocacy organizations through the Community Power Coalition help MCE to advance sustainable development and statewide policy goals by leveraging the CCA energy model as a tool for environmental justice.

Programs

  • 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.
  • Since 2012, MCE has allocated $535,000 in income-qualified solar rebates, administered by GRID Alternatives. To date, MCE has helped fund 229 solar installations for income-qualified families, representing nearly 554 kWs of new, local solar, and will collectively eliminate over 6,400 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions during the lifetime of their solar systems.
  • MCE has been one of the few parties to advocate for income-qualified 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.

Resources

Community engagement is an essential part of MCE’s values. The Community Power Coalition presentations below provide a snapshot of the information shared over the last few years.

Charles F. McGlashan Advocacy Award

On June 2, 2011, MCE’s Board established the Charles F. McGlashan Advocacy Award to recognize individuals and organizations who have demonstrated passion, dedication, and leadership on behalf of MCE. The annual award also honors and commemorates the life and legacy of environmental leadership left behind by former founding MCE Chairman Charles F. McGlashan.

To date, this Advocacy Award has been awarded to:

  • Barbara George of Women’s Energy Matters (2011)
  • The Mainstreet Moms (2012)
  • Lea Dutton of the San Anselmo Quality of Life Commission (2013)
  • Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth (2014)
  • Constance Beutel of Benicia’s Community Sustainability Commission (2015)
  • Sustainable Napa County (2016)
  • The El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee (2017)
  • Sustainable Lafayette (2018)
  • Resilient Neighborhoods (2018)
  • Verna Causby-Smith with EAH Affordable Housing (2018)
  • Sustainable Rossmoor (2019)
  • National Council for Jewish Women, Contra Costa Section (2019)
  • Gloria Castillo with Canal Alliance (2019)

Members

“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.”

Mainstreet Moms

“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.”

El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee

“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.”

El Cerrito Progressives

“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.”

350Marin and 350 Bay Area

We need your voice, join the Coalition!

We’re seeking to include the broad range of perspectives, identities, and experiences of other organizations into the Community Power Coalition. If your organization is interested in furthering MCE’s mission and operates in our service area, please email Justin Marquez at: jmarquez@mceCleanEnergy.org