Silicon Valley Clean Energy is launching a $75,000 pilot grant program to help people better understand their electricity bills and the service it offers. The grants will be awarded to local nonprofits that are willing to work with the clean energy company to help it achieve those goals.
The community-based energy company was founded two years ago on the premise that it could provide carbon-free power at lower rates than PG&E. It estimates its customers save about $40 a year.
PG&E is still responsible for delivering power to people’s homes and includes Silicon Valley Clean Energy charges in its bills.
“Since our charges are included in PG&E bills, people often think it’s an additional charge,” said Community Outreach Manager Pamela Leonard. “The reality is the bills are already difficult to comprehend. You have to read through multiple line items and multiple pages in order to find the discount we provide.”
Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s service is available to residents in 12 Santa Clara County municipalities, as well as unincorporated county pockets, as an “opt out” alternative to PG&E.
“We want people to understand we’re here to help them,” Leonard said.
The grant program is specifically aimed at educating low-income residents, seniors and people with limited English language skills. Leonard also said it’s important for people to know that PG&E’s low-income and senior discount programs “don’t go away just because you’re a Silicon Valley Clean Energy customer.”
That’s another area where nonprofits can help, she said.
“We’re a two-year-old agency, so we think there’s a lot of value in utilizing already-established service groups,” Leonard said. “We want to build on the existing relationships that many community organizations have already built over the years.”
Grant requests for $5,000 to $20,000 will be accepted. Applications are due Aug. 24 and are online at svcleanenergy.org.
Preference will be given to nonprofits in Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s service area that have a proven track record of community outreach and communication, or provide social and case management services.
“For example, there could be a senior services group in Saratoga that only works with a small group of residents we want to reach,” Leonard said. “Or it could be a regional organization that serves multiple communities.”
In addition to unincorporated areas, the communities served by Silicon Valley Clean Energy are Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga and Sunnyvale.
Silicon Valley Clean Energy currently provides electricity to about 250,000 residential customers.
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