STOCKTON, Calif. — A recently approved contract will give those living and working in Stockton a new option for electricity utilities outside of the city's current sole provider, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).
During a September meeting, Stockton City Council members unanimously voted to join a Joint Powers Agreement with East Bay Community Energy, an Oakland-based not-for-profit power provider.
"We think that there's tremendous appetite and interest in the solutions that we bring," East Bay Community Energy CEO Nick Chaset told ABC10. "First and foremost, affordability is key in a city like Stockton where there is a significant energy burden on many residents and so bringing that savings proposition, it's going to be something that we think is a no-brainer."
With the new electric utility will come a 3% savings on some energy bills compared to PG&E's rates, says Chaset. In addition to lower power bills, East Bay Community Energy is also aiming to bring more renewable sources of energy to Stockton.
"The environmental benefits of more clean energy in a city that deals with very high levels of air pollution and things like asthma, that's really, really, really important and it's something that we really focus on delivering to our communities," Chaset said.
While PG&E will still own and maintain poles, wires and transmission services in the city, the energy being transmitted from those wires and transformers to homes and businesses will be owned and sold by East Bay Community Energy.
"PG&E will continue to provide customers with the transmission and distribution service, which means they own poles and wires," Chaset said. "The major infrastructure difference, though, is that EBC will start bringing our programs like rooftop solar and battery options, or electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployments to the city of Stockton that might not have otherwise been there."
PG&E has come under criticism in recent years and has been forced to pay millions of dollars in settlements for allegedly starting multiple devastating wildfires, many of them chronicled by ABC10's Fire-Power-Money series.
During September's historic heatwave, customers also raised concerns about soaring prices from the utility company due in part to a tiered pricing model.
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East Bay Community Energy currently serves 1.7 million residents and businesses across Alameda County and in the city of Tracy. The agency says that with its Stockton expansion, they are expecting to increase accounts by 17%.
Unlike PG&E, East Bay Community Energy is a public, not-for-profit agency meaning that they are governed by local elected officials and not shareholders.
Chaset says that in early 2024, all homes and businesses in Stockton will be notified that their electricity services will be transferred to East Bay Community Energy. When those notices are sent out, customers will have the option to opt out and stick with PG&E instead.
"When we start working, 100% of accounts that don't proactively say they don't want to transition, transition on to our service," Chaset said. "We're really excited to further expand our service into San Joaquin County and to serve the people of Stockton and to deliver our customer-centric clean energy solutions."
An exact date for the transfer of electricity services has not yet been set.
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