Programs Spotlight: A Focus on Equity and Affordability

Programs Spotlight: A Focus on Equity and Affordability

MCE’s Programs Spotlight series highlights the power of MCE: the power of people over profit. By putting more renewable energy on our shared grid, we clean up polluting fossil fuels. MCE’s efforts on climate justice and energy innovations help vulnerable populations qualify for programs like electric vehicles, energy storage, workforce development, and energy savings. We all deserve a fossil-free future that combats climate change and gives us cleaner air to breathe.

Creating Equitable Communities

As a not-for-profit public agency, MCE has been committed to creating more equitable communities across our service area since our inception. We’re taking a holistic view of how we serve our communities and what is most needed. We can’t create an equitable future for everyone without uplifting those who have been historically neglected. MCE’s programs focus on addressing these past inequities by determining ways to support those most in need.

Income-Qualified Programs

Since 2013, MCE has been offering tailored customer programs to income-qualified customers. These programs include our solar rebates for single-family and multifamily properties, electric vehicle rebates, energy efficiency services through our Low-Income Families and Tenants (LIFT) Program, and the recent MCE Cares Credit Program and Green Access and Community Solar Connection. MCE’s focus on underserved populations increases energy equity and makes necessary energy upgrades more affordable for the populations that need them most. Air pollution disproportionately impacts lower -income populations, with almost 40% of California asthma cases occurring in populations that earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Learn more about MCE’s programs and see if you qualify at mceCleanEnergy.org/customer-programs.

Energy Resiliency

In 2020, MCE launched a $6 million Energy Storage Program to help alleviate grid outages that threaten our community’s safety, health, and welfare and that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. This program helps customers install clean battery energy storage to keep power flowing during outages like Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events while also minimizing the use of carbon-emitting generators and fossil fuel technologies. Prior to the 2020 PSPS season, MCE also partnered with our regional Centers for Independent Living to distribute 100 no-cost portable batteries to customers with a life-sustaining medical need for power.

These technologies increase resiliency in our communities, helping customers access power when the grid is down and providing a flexible resource for periods of high demand. By addressing these issues and providing batteries at customer sites, we can simultaneously decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy access during times when customers need power the most.

Customer Savings

Since 2010, MCE has helped customers save over $68 million on their electricity bills and reduced energy consumption and bills through our energy efficiency programs. Additionally, in 2021, we launched the $10 million MCE Cares Credit Program, which offered eligible customers a monthly discount on their bill. This program was part of MCE’s comprehensive COVID-relief efforts, which included resource pages for residential and small business customers, suspension of collection activities, and an extensive marketing program to help customers access bill relief and discount programs.

Clean Energy Access

MCE’s standard service, Light Green, offers customers almost twice as much renewable energy as PG&E at comparable prices. Since our inception, we have offered a 100% renewable energy option, Deep Green, which costs an average of $5 more per month for residential customers. MCE’s mission to address greenhouse gas emissions has focused on increasing access to clean energy technologies and services. By providing these services at cost-competitive rates, we make it possible for all customers to access renewable energy. We believe that clean energy is a right, and all customers should be able to make choices that better serve their community.

In 2021, we announced the launch of our newest programs, Green Access and Community Solar Connection. These two programs offer customers in designated disadvantaged communities the opportunity to receive an additional 20% discount on their bill for up to 20 years by enrolling in 100% renewable energy. These programs are a further deepening of MCE’s commitment to making clean energy accessibly and affordable for all.

Expanding Equity in Energy Efficiency

On May 20, 2021, the California Public Utilities Commission realigned the statewide approach to energy efficiency programs to better enable providers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support equity initiatives, and increase grid stability. The decision impacts the goals, evaluation, and processes for running energy efficiency programs in the state by reducing the conflict between the cost-effectiveness of programs and the metrics of emissions reductions and customer value. MCE has been providing energy efficiency programs to our customers since the 2013 launch of our multifamily energy efficiency program. Since then, MCE’s programs have expanded to include our LIFT Program, a single-family residential program, a commercial program for local businesses, and the Agricultural and Industrial Resource (AIR) Program. All programs offer a mix of technical assistance, project support, and incentive funding. MCE has also been able to expand program offers through various grant and pilot programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing customer equity outcomes. You can view more details about MCE’s energy efficiency offerings in the 2020 Energy Efficiency Annual Report. The decision focuses on setting energy efficiency goals that create long-term greenhouse gas reductions and grid benefits, looking at “total system benefit” instead of past metrics of kilowatt-hours, kilowatts, and therms saved. This shift allows MCE to better align energy efficiency programs with overall agency and power purchasing goals, so that we can increase cost-effectiveness in MCE-funded programs and decrease customer costs.

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