Marin Energy and Enron

Marin Energy Authority minimizes opt-outs by minimizing public disclosures.

(emailed May 22, 2012 to Damon Connolly)

Damon Connolly

Chair MEA Board 

Marin Energy Authority
781 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 320
San Rafael, CA 94901

Dear Mr. Connolly —  

The Marin Energy Authority fails to disclose negative developments while it seeks positive media attention during this sensitive opt-out period.  I am concerned that this could be construed as an attempt by MEA to influence the opt-out numbers.    

The Marin IJ recently gave MEA favorable news coverage about its newly announced San Rafael airport solar farm. However, MEA fails to publicly disclose problems with renewable energy commitments already made to Marin. This includes MEA's Rio Solar solar farm near Rocklin. Rio Solar is 15 times the size of your airport project.


  • Personnel at the site adjacent to Rio Solar's advertised Rocklin location, where Rio Solar would reportedly share a grid interconnection, indicate development efforts for Rio Solar ceased about seven months ago, about the same time MEA announced Rio Solar to Marin consumers.   
  • Rio Solar's lone developer now says it may be looking for investors to fund the project but, to this time, Rio Solar's been "on the back burner." 
  • Environmentalists are concerned about vernal pools and fairy shrimp in Rocklin.   
  • Placer County's Planning Department has no record of any plans to construct Rio Solar.  It reports that development of solar farms in Placer County is a multi-year process.  For instance, SunPower Corp is now one year into an approximate four year environmental review.  MEA’s contract shows Rio Solar's commercial operation is March 31, 2013.  You mean 2017? 
  • Assuming Rio Solar is actually constructed, a four year delay means MEA fails to provide about 140,000 megawatt hours of clean energy. This equals Marin's entire residential load for three months. This is a staggering shortfall.

Article 2.4 of your Rio Solar contract specifies quarterly progress reports on financing, permitting, construction milestones, and interconnection.  I am unaware of any progress reports to MEA’s Board, Executive, or Technical committees.  Nevertheless, please email copies of these quarterly progress reports to me.  

Please also explain why this information was not disclosed to the media and to consumers during this sensitive opt-out period.  Don’t consumers have a right to know what they’re paying for, especially after MEA announced Rio Solar will be producing next year?      

RIO SOLAR'S GUARANTEED ENERGY OUTPUT                                            

Assuming Rio Solar is constructed, MEA overstates the contract’s "guaranteed output" by 43 percent  MEA advertises 36,000 megawatt hours of solar output, but fails to advertise that the contract only guarantees 25,200 hours.  The following puts this into perspective: 

  • Six San Rafael airport solar farms are required just to cover the difference between what the Rio Solar contract guarantees and what MEA advertises it receives from Rio Solar.   
  • Alternately, six of MEA’s promised 1 MW solar carport shade structures are required to make up the difference.     
  • Even if MEA’s solar airport and solar carport are both constructed, MEA remains thousands of megawatt hours short of its total green energy representations when Rio Solar's guaranteed output is compared with MEA's representations.  This assumes Rio Solar is even built.        

Who at MEA decides the appropriate number of megawatt hours to advertise to the public?  No doubt, serving on MEA's Board has a fashionable appeal, but your unrealistic megawatt hours indicate that your Board does not understand what it is doing.      

Will MEA's Board implement consultant recommendations and substitute renewable energy certificates (RECs) for Rio Solar's shortfalls?  When will MEA disclose that RECs are NOT genuine delivered green energy?  When will MEA educate consumers about its skyrocketing reliance upon these low-cost Wall Street-type instruments?  See attached RECs plot.  

MEA's announced San Rafael airport project appears to be positive news.  However, public relations should not whitewash MEA's overall follow-through on its total energy commitments.  Selective accounting is reminiscent of Enron.   

Please email me copies of MEA progress reports on Rio Solar, as well as an explanation of why this information was not fully disclosed to potential ratepayers during this sensitive opt-out period.        


Jim Phelps

MEA Opt Out (888) 632-3674 


cc: MEA Board

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Kevin Reilly May 23, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Wow. Didn't know that.
Bonnie Avilar May 24, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Jim--just so I have this correct, MEA is a sham, scam and full of it? It didn't seem very green when I looked into it and now it appears it is just another shell game....correct?
Bonnie Avilar May 24, 2012 at 05:17 AM
PS: My partner OPTED OUT for us, thank goodness!
Rico May 24, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Thank you Jim Phelps. I opted out of MEA as soon as I first heard about it, and now, I'm glad that I did. When it comes to energy, it's almost impossible to believe what most of these corporations say. And that goes both ways, I have seen incredible false information put out by these anti SmartMeter sites.I am strongly opposed to the SmartMeter and the smart meter radio grid projects, but these faux science fiction writers on the Stop SmartMeter sites have also misled the public, in effect shooting themselves in the foot. They have no credibility at all now, just like PG&E and the MEA have no credibility. Thanks again Jim for your effort to educate and inform the public and ratepayers about the MEA. This is very serious business, not to be taken lightly.
Francis S. May 24, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Here! Here Ricardo! Thank you for stating what I am thinking! Jim Phelps has been a crusader for the consumer with regard to MEA. The Truth About MEA is daunting. We must support Phelps by opting out and encouraging everyone we know to OPT OUT as well. I am so tired of being misled and lied to. The only way to get back at this type of stuff and to stand up for our rights is to OPT OUT and hit them in the pocket book. This is all about money and greed.,
Jim Phelps May 24, 2012 at 06:06 AM
Until MEA places new generation into service, it is merely contracting for the green energy resources that once contracted to other people. Those people must now purchase gas-fired power to make up their loss. MEA might feel clean, but the earth's atmosphere gets the same emissions as before. MEA won’t disclose its current sources of “green” power. One reason is that MEA needs flexibility in order to substitute low-value and low-cost renewable energy certificates (RECs) in place of delivering costly genuine renewable energy to Marin. All of the above is MEA’s shell game. MEA promised clean energy from Rio Solar solar farm. But MEA overstates what’s guaranteed from that facility, and now it appears Rio Solar might never be built. How will MEA make up the shortfall? RECs. MEA’s Board appears to be in the dark.
Rico May 24, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The MEA is not a utility, but they play the same games as PG&E which is a utility provider. They both try and trick the public into thinking that they have to opt out of their scams. Why are they allowed to play these games ? Personally, I never opted into the SmartMeter program and never got a SmartMeter, so I never opted out. The same with the MEA. When they first started, I told them that I was not interested, and they informed PG&E and I thought that was the end of it. But now, in this new marketing campaign, MEA sent me a letter asking me to opt out. Since I never opted in in the first place, why did they waste the taxpayers money on an advertising campaign with a letter to trick me ?. What gets me the most, is that everyone is promoting solar power being generated at all levels, especially at individual houses. I think this a great trend, and I wholeheartedly support it. But the most ridiculous thing is, PG&E's SmartMeters do not work with solar systems.All this talk about promoting green energy is hogwash, they just want a way to automate meter reading, eliminate jobs and jack up the rates. You are 100 percent correct Francis, this is all about money and greed. Thank goodness that there are some SmartPeople willing to take the time to expose the energy scams, because many people have been brainwashed and drank the Like-Em-Aid.
Trish Boorstein May 24, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Thank you Jim for providing transparency on this issue. It's great to know we have community watchdogs helping consumers get full disclosure. Complacency is a dangerous thing-
Mark Fiore May 24, 2012 at 05:13 PM
"Phelps, a power consultant to the electric and petrochemical industries..." (From a quick google search, not that he's trying to hide this fact, though.) Caveat emptor, people, I think "community watchdog" may be the wrong term.
Jim Phelps May 24, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Be sure to confirm that you are indeed Opted Out. MEA's Opt Out system had problems processing the first wave of Opt Outs, so you may still be in it even though you thought you’d Opted Out. MEA Opt Out (888) 632-3674
Jim Phelps May 24, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Hi Mark -- I redesign evaporative heat exchangers for all energy producers, including geothermal. This design work results in reduced energy consumption and improved efficiency at the manufacturing source. Geothermal is a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) energy that MEA advertises as a desired type of green electricity. I don't care about labels, but I do care about government transparency and accountability. I believe my letter at the top of this thread was written from that perspective.
gary May 24, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Jim thank you for all your hard work. We were having trouble with the "OPT OUT" until I spoke with Justin Kudo who is the account manager and he "OPT OUT" for me. So I suggest if anyone has a problem speak to Justin at (415 464-6029) or email (jkudo@marinenergy.com). You must provide Account Number, First and Last Name, Phone number and your email and I'm sure Justin will be just as helpful for you
Jamie Tuckey May 24, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Your latest attack on MEA, outlined below, is again off base. There are no ‘negative developments’ on the Rio Solar Project we are aware of that suggest that the project is not proceeding as expected. There has been no formal quarterly progress report requested or filed yet on this project because it is still in the pre-development stage, prior to the ‘significant milestones’ referenced in the contract itself. We are happy to inform you of actual reports on significant milestones as referenced in the contract. I have attached the Rio Solar contract here so that accurate reference information is accessible to the parties that have been copied on your correspondence. The recent news on our local San Rafael project is indeed newsworthy, and we are also proud of the progress we have made in entering into other solar contracts for power supply. MEA consistently conducts a very high level of due diligence and technical review before selecting a developer and project to contract with for power supply. Our reason for such due diligence is to select projects that are highly viable so that they will deliver power to MEA. The attached material explains how the projected energy output is calculated, based on solar resources in the area, technology and design. Sincerely, Jamie Tuckey Marin Energy Authority Communications Director
Jim Phelps May 25, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Hi Jamie -- I emailed a response to your Damon Connolly (MEA Chair) a short time ago -- your email appears to be a virtual copy of what he emailed to me earlier today. My original email and my response to Damon are both carefully documented and accurate. It’s unfortunate that my public inquiry, which sought answers to legitimate questions, was perceived as an attack. However, I understand that my questions may put MEA, its Board, and apparently you, in an uncomfortable position. Such is the stuff of meaningful and transparent discourse. Thanks for your note. Jim Phelps www.MEAtruth.com MEA Opt Out (888) 632-3674
Tina McMillan May 25, 2012 at 06:53 AM
"Bright Source Industries (Israel) Ltd., formerly named Luz II Ltd.,[3] is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bright Source Energy, Inc. Based in Israel, Bright Source Industries is responsible for solar technology development, plant design and engineering." "In March 2008, Bright Source entered into a series of power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for up to 900 MW of electricity.[4] Bright Source is currently developing a number of solar power plants in Southern California, with construction of the first plant planned to start in 2009.[dated info]" "In December 2011, The California Energy Commission (CEC) began to review a proposed 750 MW Rio Mesa Solar Project in Riverside County, California. Bright Source Energy Inc. is the developer for this project.[12][13]" "The Rio Mesa Solar Project is a proposed 750 megawatt (MW) solar thermal power project in Riverside County, California. In December 2011, the California Energy Commission accepted the application for certification for the Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility. The developers for the project are Rio Mesa Solar I, LLC, Rio Mesa Solar II, LLC, and Rio Mesa Solar III, LLC, which are subsidiaries of BrightSource Energy, Inc.[1]" So MEA is buying solar from Bright Source, the same company that is selling solar to both PGE and Southern CA Edison. Why do we need MEA to duplicate PGE's efforts? There is no fast track to greener energy. MEA is superfluous.
Linda A. May 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Thank you Mr. Phelps for letting us know the truth behind MEA. MEA has hired guns to discredit anyone who speaks out against them. MEA is a big bully, a big business, and big money. Thank you again and again Mr. Phelps. You are a good man!
Linda A. May 25, 2012 at 05:04 PM
PS: MEA are bullies. They slander the messanger to try to deflect from the message which is: MEA is a scam! :)
Bill McGee May 26, 2012 at 09:08 AM
Ricardo - I commend you for calling out those that distort facts on the internet. I agree this practice destroys credibility and at very least clouds the issue. Your criticism of SmartMeters is succinct and convincing enough without embellishment. It seems that many Local and regional issues are subject to daily distortion on web comment sections, simply in attempt to smear. The rebuttal that most often follow may be concise and thorough but only serve to cloud the issue to the reader who may be less educated on the particular subject matter. Unrelated to this topic but as an example taking this practice one step further on the national political front - Rep. Allen West (R-FL) recently boasted that he believed that about 80 members of Congress are communists! Of course this drew fire from Democrats but Republicans kept quiet and just played the distancing game. I am not aware of one Republican that had the guts to stand up and call out Allen West. And to wonder why today’s political climate is so polarizing?
Al Dugan May 29, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Well done an I appreciate the hard work and research hours. I just looked at MEA as another layer of expense. We should approach PGE as Marin County and push clean energy. Regards, Al Dugan
Al Dugan May 29, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Well done....bravo. Al Dugan
Tina McMillan May 29, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Received three letters from MEA regarding two residential and one work account. Immediately went online and opted out for all three. Emailed other businesses in office suite to remind them that unless opted out will be opted in. Confirmed with other family members choice to opt out of second residence. All okay with opt out. Received letters from MEA acknowledging my three opt outs as accepted. Whew. Now that's over can move on to more important things. Just received postcard from MEA that I will enrolled in MEA light green as of July unless I opt out. Wait a minute. I did opt out and have three letters to confirm. Now must go back online and make certain haven't been opted back in. Wouldn't it have been simpler to make MEA an opt in opt in from the start? No mailers, no letters, no internet, just a sweet and simple call to purchase energy from a new supplier should I be disillusioned with the old one. Went back and reread Migden bill to create community choice aggregation. Bill clearly states opt out only way to insure sufficient numbers to make financial plan viable because most people will do nothing. Now completely disillusioned with California legislature looking out for my best interests. Back to opt in/opt out, yet again...Hopefully this time it will stick!
Trish Boorstein May 29, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Isn't this reverse advertising? You make consumers buy something that they know nothing about and then start the marketing campaign afterwards, hoping that even if someone pays attention they'll take it at face value and not do further questioning? Where are our consumer advocacy groups? And anyone presenting transparency on an issue gets marginalized and discredited?
Lori May 31, 2012 at 06:23 AM
I agree, Trish. That's why Mr. Phelps' reference - MEAtruth.com is so invaluable! Contact them to get more info about what they are doing - they are the advocacy group! Spread the word!
Tina McMillan May 31, 2012 at 07:16 AM
Justin Kudo | Account Manager jkudo@marinenergy.com | 415-464-6029 www.marincleanenergy.com Thank you Justin for your assistance. I was able to send a single email to Justin Kudo and confirm all three accounts are remaining with PGE based on my previous online opt out transactions. The MEA post card was a distraction. Though I found it confusing, Justin was able to clarify the standing on all accounts. If I were to go a step further it would be to ask our legislature to make Community Choice Aggregation a completely voluntary program where you had to Opt In, in order to join. This would eliminate the time and effort necessary to remain a customer of PGE. If the legislature doesn't have faith that CCA's can find a sufficient customer base then perhaps they are not a viable option.
Hanson Parker September 21, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I found this link about Marin Energy through Sandy Vest's Solar Times publication. I recently moved to Marin from Harrisburg, PA where our leaders sold us a clean energy incinerator. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/us/21harrisburg.html?_r=0 I don't care what you do, DO NOT let government-types borrow money to build power plants. Geeze, I thought this stuff was only in the east. Seriously, they sold it as a money-maker and left Harrisburg almost $300 million in debt. The consultants made the money.


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