Silicon Valley Power
|Headquarters||Santa Clara, CA|
|Key Executive||John Roukema, Director of Electric Utility|
|Peak Demand||472.4 megawatts|
|Operating Revenue||329.4 million (CY 2014)|
|Owner(s)||City of Santa Clara|
Silicon Valley Power (SVP) is a not-for-profit municipal electric utility owned and operated by the City of Santa Clara, California, USA. SVP provides electricity service to approximately 52,000 residential and business customers, including large corporations such as Intel, Yahoo!, Applied Materials, Owens Corning and NVIDIA. SVP also owns and maintains a dark fiber network named SVP Fiber Enterprise, and provides citywide free outdoor Wi-Fi access as part of its installed wireless network communications system that supports SVP MeterConnect®, SVP’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program.
The City of Santa Clara electric department was founded in 1896 when it installed 46 streetlights powered by a direct current generator. In January 1904 to 1965 the electric department began purchasing energy for resale to Santa Clara’s customers from the United Gas and Electric Company of San Jose, which later became part of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). PG&E supplied Santa Clara’s electric needs until 1965, when the electric department began to purchase its power from the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project (CVP). In 1968, Santa Clara became a founding member of the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) in order to work with other municipal electric utilities to jointly develop cost-effective energy sources.
In 1980 the Santa Clara electric department became an energy producing utility for the first time since 1903 when it launched its own 6-megawatt (MW) cogeneration project, the first of three natural gas-fueled electricity generation plants in the City of Santa Clara. In 1983 Santa Clara and its NCPA partners became the first cities in the U.S. to invest in and operate a publicly owned geothermal plant, the 110 MW NCPA Geothermal Project, with Santa Clara having a 55% ownership interest.
In 1998 the Santa Clara electric department was renamed Silicon Valley Power (SVP). Subsequent efforts to expand and diversify its electricity supply led to construction of the Donald Von Raesfeld combined cycle natural gas plant (2005), various partnerships in wind and hydroelectric generation sources, and 25 percent ownership of the Lodi Energy Center combined cycle natural gas plant (2012). In 2007, SVP launched Santa Clara Green Power to provide residents and businesses the option to use only renewable energy. SVP continually pursues affordable renewable power options as the city general plan states an objective to be sustainable. On average, in 2012 over 38 percent of the electricity distributed by SVP was from green resources, and the City’s utility is nationally recognized for its reliable power, low rates, and customer satisfaction.
In addition, the City owns an extensive dark fiber optic network to serve business customers. The SVP Fiber Enterprise is a department of SVP. SVP introduced two new services in 2013. Santa Clara was the first city in the U.S. to provide free citywide outdoor Wi-Fi access via an AMI wireless system branded as SVP MeterConnect®, and SVP helped fund electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at the Central Park Library and the Santa Clara Convention Center. SVP’s complete AMI project is being rolled out in the 2015-2016 time frame.
In 2013 the SVP power mix consisted of 24.2% from eligible renewal resources as defined by the California Energy Commission, 43.7% natural gas, 17.7% large hydroelectric, 8.4% coal, and 6.0% from unspecified sources. Total kilowatt-hour (kWh) retail sales in 2014 were 3,052,050,846 kWh.
Facilities and Generation Sources
Generating facilities owned by the City of Santa Clara and located in the city provided 32.5% of the electricity consumed in Santa Clara. Natural gas-fueled facilities are the Donald Von Raesfeld natural gas power plant (147.8 MW), Gianera Generating Station (49.5 MW) and Cogeneration Plant #1 (7 MW). In addition, power is also generated by the Jenny Strand Solar Research and Development Park (100 kW), the Tasman Parking Structure Solar PV (400 kW) and by the capture and burning of methane gas from a closed City of Santa Clara landfill (750 kW).
SVP also owns a 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line that brings electricity into the city from non-local sources.
Generating sources owned by SVP and located outside the city include the Stony Creek Hydroelectric System and Grizzly Hydroelectric Project.
Joint Power Agencies (JPA) of which SVP is a member include the NCPA (hydroelectric, natural gas, geothermal projects) and M-S-R (coal and wind). SVP also contracts to receive electricity through power purchase agreements with such entities as Iberdrola and Seawest LLC (wind); Western Area Power Association, Tri-Dam Project, Friant Power Authority (hydroelectric); Recurrent Energy (solar); and G2 Energy and Ameresco (landfill gas).
SVP receives generation produced outside Santa Clara via transmission facilities owned and operated by PG&E under the direction of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). SVP also participates in the Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) which is interconnected to PG&E’s transmission facilities.
As of January 1, 2015, SVP and the City of Santa Clara have the lowest average system rates for electricity in California for any electric utility serving over 10,000 customers. For residential customers, the monthly fixed meter charge is $3.20, and electricity rates are $0.09787/kWh for the first 300 kWh used in one month, and $0.11251/kWh for usage exceeding 300 kWh within the same month. With basic service, commercial customers pay a monthly $3.47 meter charge, $0.16688/kWh for the first 800 kWh, and $0.15150/kWh thereafter. Neighboring communities pay 19% to 44% more for their electricity from the region’s dominant utility.
SVP must adhere to the laws and regulations of the U.S. and the State of California and is involved, in various ways, with multiple entities, including: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC); California Energy Commission (CEC); CAISO; California Division of Occupational Safety and health (Cal/OSHA); Bay Area Air Quality Management District; California Department of Toxic Substances Control; California Department of Transportation; and the California Air Resources Board.
Governance and Key Executives
The City of Santa Clara City Council has governing authority over SVP. The city manager is Julio Fuentes. The senior executive of the utility is John Roukema, Director of Electric Utility, who reports to the city manager.
In response to the objective to be a sustainable city stated in the city’s general plan prepared in 2010, the city has adopted a Climate Action Plan. In addition, SVP has for many years acquired renewable resources and has implemented programs such as Santa Clara Green Power, which allows customers the option to purchase 100% green power, and multiple energy efficiency rebate programs for residences and businesses. SVP maintains a renewable energy portfolio that exceeds state-mandated levels by approximately 25%. In 2013, the State of California required utilities to provide at least 20% of their power from eligible renewable resources, which includes hydropower plants that generate up to 30 MW of power. SVP’s eligible renewable portfolio in 2012 was 24.2%. When SVP’s hydropower plants that generate over 30 MW are factored in, SVP’s total “green” resource profile rises to 41.9%. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, SVP was ranked among the top 10 municipal utilities in the U.S. by the Solar Electric Power Association for new solar power capacity. In late 2013, SVP was recognized by the independent survey company RKS Research for scoring the highest business customer satisfaction ratings of any California utility included in its surveys since RKS began polling utility customers in 1995. SVP also earned the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2014 Public Power Wind Award for the pursuit and creative utilization of wind power resources.
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