What is Clean Electricity?

What is Clean Electricity?

Clean electricity comes from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, as opposed to from the burning of fossil fuels. As electricity use increases due to electrification of transportation and buildings, the City will support more distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and energy storage within the community as well as supporting more renewable sources in our electricity supply mix.

A megawatt hour (Mwh) is equal to 1,000 Kilowatt hours (Kwh). It is equal to 1,000 kilowatts of electricity used continuously for one hour. It is about equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during one hour. In the following graph, we'll be reporting on Million Megawatt Hours (Mil MWh)
MWhMegawatt Hour

GHG Emissions from Electricity

Sunnyvale has made tremendous progress in reducing emissions in the electricity sector, and with the launch of Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) in 2017, 98% of Sunnyvale’s residential and commercial accounts received carbon-free electricity, which resulted in a 76% reduction of GHG emissions from electricity generation.

While SVCE has taken us a long way to reducing the emissions associated with our electricity use, some of our residents and businesses still get their electricity from Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E). In 2020, PG&E’s electricity emissions dropped significantly because they provided 100% carbon-free electricity. This is largely due to a change in how utilities count their emissions. In 2020 Sunnyvale’s electricity emissions were nearly zero!

While it is unclear whether PG&E will be able to provide 100% carbon-free electricity in the future, there is more than can be done. Maximizing local solar production and investing in local storage to use the clean energy we produce will help Sunnyvale build a resilient and clean energy network.

Play 1.1: Promote 100% Clean Electricity

Increasing Renewable Energy

Sunnyvale, like many other communities, has been able to speed the transition of our electricity supply to clean renewable energy through our participation with Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) and their community choice aggregation program. SVCE is a community-owned electricity provider for the majority of Silicon Valley and Sunnyvale has the largest participation by total electric load. In 2019, we reached our goal of providing 100% clean electricity to all Sunnyvale businesses and residents.

In addition to managing our electric supply, SVCE supports a variety of programs to eliminate all fossil fuels from our buildings and transportation sector. You can find out more about what we're doing in this area under Decarbonizing Buildings and Decarbonizing Transportation.

Play 1.1: Promote 100% Clean Electricity

Community Choice Aggregation

Community-wide electricity can be supplied by different providers, including investor-owned utilities (like PG&E), wholesale electricity markets (used by some businesses), and by local building-scale projects, such as rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV). Sunnyvale has made tremendous progress in reducing emissions in this key sector by launching a community choice aggregation program. Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) is a community choice aggregator that provides carbon-free electricity to most of our community. 

We track renewable energy by measuring the proportion of electricity generation we as a community use that is supplied from renewable energy resources vs. fossil fuel-based sources.
% Renewable EnergyPercent of Renewable Energy

Play 1.1: Promote 100% Clean Electricity

What is Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)?

CCA is an alternative energy supply system that allows local governments to collectively buy energy, offering lower costs for consumers and greener energy supply opportunities. This has become a popular strategy throughout California with 21 CCAs serving the energy needs of more than 10 million customers in more than 170 cities as of May 2020.

Community agency sources the electricity, who delivers through PG&E to the customer (you) the benefit from clean energy.

Play 1.2 Increase Solar PV

Our Targets

The City is exploring the feasibility of a local ordinance requiring solar installations on new commercial buildings built in 2020 or later.  By ensuring that every new building is contributing to our goals instead of just adding energy demand, we'll be much better positioned to achieve our targets.

Play 1.2: Increase Local Solar Photovoltaics (PV).

Solar Installation

Year over year, we've seen consistent growth in the amount of solar installed across Sunnyvale. On average every year we add enough solar capacity to generate about 3.5 million kWh of electricity, which equals the energy demand of around 245 homes. 

There is ample roof space in the community for more solar, so let's keep this trend going!

Play 1.2: Increase Local Solar Photovoltaics (PV).

Local Solar Targets

We're racing towards our targets well ahead of schedule. Just a year ago, it seemed like were were not on pace to hit our target of 3% of our electricity supplied with local solar by 2030. Now we're just fractions of a percent away. How'd we do it? Not only has solar continued to expand but we're using far less energy too. Our conservation efforts are like lowering the basketball hoop making this an easy shot to sink!

Ready to go solar? Maybe your home will be the one that pulls us over the finish line!

Play 1.3 Increased Distributed Electricity Storage

Our Targets

Our targets for energy storage will enable us to meet other community goals by ensuring more locally produced clean energy is available for serving high demand times of day.

Sunnyvale estimates that approximately 0.55% of our current electricity demand could be met with locally installed batteries. We will continue to work with community partners like SVCE to track progress on this goal.

Energy storage is supported by a battery, inverter, electric panel, and metering.

Play 1.3 Increased Distributed Electricity Storage

Why is Storage Important?

Energy storage plays a growing role in ensuring a resilient power grid as it allows for individual home owners with solar the ability to store clean energy when the sun is shining. That stored energy can then displace more expensive and often dirtier power sources.

Not only does community-scale energy storage maximize local solar supply it also helps to support a resilient power grid.

Be Part of the Solution!

Check out these resources for maximizing clean energy!

There are so many things you can do today to make a big difference for our future. Use clean energy to power your home and car. 

Save money and protect the earth with SVCE E-Hub
Choosing clean energy combats climate change, saves money, and builds community resilience. Opt-in to up to 100% renewable energy today
Learn more about the benefits of battery storage and find competitive installers.
Cost savings range depending on the % of renewable energy consumed.