I live in Lafayette CA and in Sept 2016 our city (like yours) voted to give consumers a choice of electricity providers: MCE (formerly known as Marin Clean Energy) and PG&E. Over 90-95% of residents and businesses go with the new provider, while 5-10% choose to stay with PG&E.
One of the main benefits of the new provider is that we can get greener electricity FOR LESS. i looked up the EBCE options for you which are:
Option 1: Stay with PG&E (33%
renewable portfolio). Avg household currently pays $91.22
Option 2: EBCE Bright Choice (38%
renewable portfolio). Avg household will pay $90.60
Option 3: EBCE Brilliant 100 (40%
renewable portfolio). Avg household will pay $91.22
Option 4: EBCE Renewable 100 (100%
renewable portfolio). Avg household will pay $94.99
EBCE RENEWABLES are defined as 50% solar and 50% wind, mostly generated in California (so you can say you're voting with your wallet so that all your dollars are flowing to jobs and the California renewable economy).
I myself picked Option 4, which costs a typical homeowner less than $5 more per month, but I get to honestly say my LEAF is powered by 100% renewable energy ("My car is a 100% wind and solar powered car.") We don't actually have to wait for the Jetsons to drive a solar powered car, the technology and pricing is available NOW to solve the climate crisis.
As for your specific comments, here are some thoughts:
"I read some of the information, but I am skeptical about the clean power savings (which isn't a whole lot)"
If you're skeptical how it's possible to actually "pay less $ and get more clean energy" that's the benefit of introducing competition
into the market. When there is a monopoly, you don't really expect a great price. But when competitors enter, they need to offer more for less. This is what's happening in a deregulated electricity market. Also, EBCE is a not-for-profit public agency, so they don't have to have a profit to pay shareholders. This extra savings can flow to consumers.
"and fear that if I switch out of PG&E, the situation might get bad over time and I would be unable to go back."
If the situation "got bad" any customer can switch back to PG&E at any time, at no charge. See details here.
There is no risk to trying it.
"Furthermore, I would lose access to PG&E Smart Rate program and Solar Choice."
I'm not sure about the Smart Rate program, but if you don't want to do EBCE, you can go with PG&E's 100% solar option "Solar Choice" priced as follows:
Option 5: PG&E Solar Choice (100%
solar portfolio). Avg household will pay $98.77
Note that this costs $4 more than EBCE's 100% wind/solar option at $94.99/mo.
In summary, the arrival of competition in the SF Bay Area electricity industry offers us more choices for less. Hopefully the explanation of your 5 options above helps you with a decision. Let us know what you decided!
Volunteer Board Memer