California is rich in natural resources, and has a long history of supporting renewable energy. An abundance of sunny days has helped California become the leading solar market in the United States. The Golden State also ranks fourth in wind power production, and first in biomass. Possibly the most impressive feat is California’s geothermal energy production, which is greater than every other state in the U.S. combined. California even produces more geothermal energy than any other country in the world.
Government initiatives and incentives are also a key driver of California renewable energy. In 2015, Governor Brown signed an ambitious climate change bill, which mandated that California utility companies produce at least half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. The bill also doubles energy efficiency standards for existing buildings, and creates more opportunities for electric cars and mass transit.
California Electricity Prices
California has a regulated electricity market, whereby local utility companies set and control electricity prices, generation, and delivery in their service areas.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity for California residents in November 2016 was 17.97¢ per kWh, a whole 5.22¢ above the average U.S. electricity price of 12.75¢ per kWh.
Residential electricity prices are on the rise in California, having increased more than 15.19% over the past 5 years. This trend has led to higher electricity bills for California residents, motivating many to switch to renewable energy (i.e. go solar) to save money.
California Energy Mix
Net Electricity Generation By Source:
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2016
California has doubled its electricity production from wind power over the past 5 years. Over the same period, electricity production from coal has fallen over 85%.
California Energy Sector Employment
The 2015 California Solar Jobs Census found that “as of November 2015, the California Solar Industry employed 75,598 solar workers, representing 38.2% growth in employment over the previous year.” The California solar industry even employs more people than the top 5 utilities in the state combined. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are over 2,387 solar companies operating in California. Some of the biggest solar employers in California are SolarCity, SunPower, and Swinerton Renewable Energy. Some other large energy companies in California are Rosendin Electric, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
Fun fact: more Americans are employed by renewable energy than coal, oil, and gas combined, despite wind and solar energy only making up 5% of the total U.S. energy mix. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, solar energy creates over 7 times more jobs than coal or oil per MWh produced. The employment estimates for wind power differ from source to source, but most agree that it also produces more jobs than fossil fuels.
California Utility Companies
The largest utility companies in California are Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Being in a regulated energy market, these utilities own the entire flow of electricity in their territories and also dictate electricity prices. As such, they are responsible for generating electricity, maintaining infrastructure, delivering electricity, and providing billing to all their residential and business customers across the state.
Many renewable projects have been built in California by utility companies to date. Local solar companies and large technology companies such as Intel and Google have also invested millions of dollars into solar and wind projects across the state.
Southern California Edison (SCE)
• Generates and supplies electricity to a service area of about 50,000 square miles
• Serves electricity, natural gas, and fresh water to Santa Catalina Island
• Number of customers served: 14,000,000
• Primary service Areas: San Bernardino County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Tulare County, Inyo County, Riverside County, and Kern County
• Number of employees: 13,599
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)
• Generates and supplies electricity and natural gas to a service area of about 70,000 square miles
• Number of customers served: 16,000,000 customers
• Primary service Areas: Alameda County, Amador County, Contra Costa County, El Dorado County, Fresno County, Humboldt County, Lake County, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Napa County, Nevada County, Placer County
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)
• Generates and supplies electricity and natural gas to a service are of about 4,100 square miles
• Number of customers served: 3,600,000 customers
• Primary service areas: San Diego County, Orange County
Arcadia's California Renewable Energy Services
With Arcadia’s clean energy offerings, homeowners and renters across the state can now sign up to reduce their impact, be more energy efficient, and save on their energy bills while keeping their same utility company. Here are three programs currently available to California residents:
As a California utility customer, you can reduce your impact by matching your home’s electricity usage with renewable energy certificates from wind farms. You can sign up for our 50% Wind Energy plan for free, and begin service with your next utility bill. All you need is your local utility login to link up with Arcadia’s platform and start supporting wind farms each month at no extra cost to you.
We offer a community solar-savings program to homeowners and renters in California. No matter where you live, you can subscribe to community solar projects across the country and start saving on your utility bill each month. There aren’t any installations, site visits, or equipment necessary, and if you move, your savings will even move with you.
Zero-down Energy Efficient Products
Our pay-as-you-save energy program enables California utility customers to access energy efficient products for $0 down. We will offer LED light bulbs, Wiser Air Smart Thermostats, and other home energy products to help you be more efficient and save on your utility bills. As an Arcadia customer, you can simply pay for your efficient products over time using the energy savings you’ll start seeing each month.