UC campuses phase out PG&E power

This month the University of California plans to begin supplying electricity directly to campuses and medical centers in Irvine, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Merced.

In order to do so, UC became a registered electric service provider, and will be purchasing that power from suppliers other than PG&E rather than generating it themselves. That transition will happen throughout the end of this month.

In a prepared statement, university officials called this a step toward carbon neutrality that will improve price transparency and give the UC system greater control over what type of energy it buys. UC Wholesale Electricity Program manager Mark Byron said it will also save the system money:

“We went into the wholesale market to source that electricity, and we saved about 10 percent in the process.”

This is possible under a legacy program known as direct access, Byron said, an optional service that allows retail customers to purchase energy services from competitive electric service providers.

The UC system entered into an agreement last summer involving two solar plants in Fresno County, but those projects aren’t expected to come online until 2016 or 2017. They’ve also signed two agreements with power provider Frontier Renewables to secure solar power for UC facilities for 25 years.

PG&E spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said that the UC System has been a direct access customer for some time, and PG&E supports the direct access program:

“We support the energy choices that are available to our customers, and we’ll continue to work with the UCs as we deliver and transport the electricity to them.”