© 2023 KALW 91.7 FM Bay Area
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Clean energy could cost San Jose utility customers more

A picture of San Jose City Hall
Wikimedia Commons
San Jose City Hall

Editors Note: A pervious version of this story had a picture of an unrelated Clean Energy company, the picture has now been changed to San Jose City Hall.

The San Jose City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to loosen regulations for how often San Jose Clean Energy -- which provides renewable power to approximately 350,000 customers -- can increase rates.

San Jose Spotlight reports the city's clean energy provider was previously capped at increasing rates no more than two times a year. Now, there is no cap, and residents have just 15 days notice ahead of a rate change hearing compared to the previous 30-45 days.

Councilmembers also relaxed rules to allow San Jose Clean Energy to purchase more power at once in order to get the best price in a fluctuating market, and enter into short-term contracts -- three years or less -- without getting council approval. City administrators can sign off on contracts under 10 years, but anything longer requires council approval.

The local utility is an alternative to PG&E that sells power a couple dollars cheaper per month -- depending on what percentage of the energy is renewable -- but in order to maintain lower rates, which Clean Energy said it needs to secure contracts faster.

Having a mix of short- and long-term contracts helps ensure at least 90 percent of energy needs are covered for the next year, according to the utility company. However, with quick-moving contracts and an oscillating market, rates also need to be flexible.

Since 2020, San Jose Clean Energy has only changed its rates four times. The most recent rate change went into effect in January, which actually decreased rates by $4 a month compared to last year, spokesperson Amanda Orozco told San Jose Spotlight.