Caltrain will be powered entirely by renewable energy sources by 2019 for a 4.8 percent cost increase — or an additional $64,314 a year — if the transit agency partners with a new community choice energy program.
That program is called San Jose Clean Energy and the Caltrain board will likely make the partnership official at a Thursday, Nov. 1, meeting.
“This is a small investment for an extraordinarily good outcome,” said Caltrain Board Member Charles Stone. “I think with our move toward electrification we’ve shown we’re an agency that understands we need to play a role in reducing greenhouse gases and we’ve heard loud and clear from the board that’s the direction we want to take. We have an obligation to future generations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The move comes after the passage of SB 100 in September, which requires the state’s electricity to be 100 percent emissions-free by 2045.
Caltrain is currently powered by 65 percent renewable energy sources as of last March, with Pacific Gas and Electric providing half of the agency’s energy and municipal utilities and community choice energy programs, including Peninsula Clean Energy, providing the other half. Prior to 2017, 33 percent of Caltrain’s energy was renewable.
Starting in March, San Jose Clean Energy will likely account for half of Caltrain’s total electricity usage. San Jose is the only remaining Caltrain service area that doesn’t rely on entirely renewable energy sources.
Community choice energy programs, also known as community choice aggregation, are public and offer clean energy at competitive rates. For these programs, electricity is still delivered via existing infrastructure.
If Caltrain moves ahead with the proposed plan, then its energy bill will rise 4.8 percent from $1,357,442 to $1,393,565. But the cost estimate does not account for electrification, the $2 billion effort to replace 80 percent of Caltrain’s current diesel fleet with electric trains traveling between San Jose and San Francisco by 2022.
Caltrain’s electricity consumption is expected to increase tenfold once electrification is complete, according to a staff report. Staff is currently evaluating electricity cost estimates and energy options post-electrification.
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