Silicon Valley Power

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Silicon Valley Power
IndustryEnergy, Utility
HeadquartersSanta Clara, CA
Key ExecutiveJohn Roukema, Director of Electric Utility
Peak Demand472.4 megawatts
Operating Revenue329.4 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 program.


The City of Santa Clara electric department was founded in 1896 when it installed 46 streetlights powered by a direct current generator. From 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 Company (PG&E).[1] PG&E supplied Santa Clara’s electric needs until 1965, when the electric department began to purchase its power from the Central Valley Project (CVP) supervised by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. 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.[2]

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,[3] the 110 MW NCPA Geothermal Project, one of 22 geothermal power plants at The Geysers,[4] 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,[5] and 25 percent ownership of the Lodi Energy Center combined cycle natural gas plant (2012).[6]

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.[7] On average, in 2012 over 38 percent of the electricity distributed by SVP was from green resources,[8] and the City’s utility is nationally recognized for its reliable power, low rates, and customer satisfaction.[9][10]

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[11] branded as SVP MeterConnect®, and SVP helped fund electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at the Central Park Library and the Santa Clara Convention Center.[12] SVP’s complete AMI project is being rolled out in the 2015-2016 time frame.

Power Portfolio[edit]

In 2017 the SVP power mix consisted of 38% from eligible renewable resources as defined by the California Energy Commission, 34% large hydroelectric, 16% natural gas, 9% coal, and 3% from unspecified sources.[13] Total kilowatt-hour (kWh) retail sales in 2018 were 3,566,293,836 kWh.[14]

Facilities and Generation Sources[edit]

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).[15] In addition, power is also generated by the Jenny Strand Solar Research and Development Park (100 kW),[16] the Tasman Parking Structure Solar PV (400 kW)[4] and by the capture and burning of methane gas from a closed City of Santa Clara landfill (750 kW).[17]

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).[7]

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).[18] SVP also participates in the Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC)[19] which is interconnected to PG&E’s transmission facilities.

Electricity Rates[edit]

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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22] Neighboring communities pay 19% to 44% more for their electricity from the region’s dominant utility.[23][24]

Regulatory Agencies[edit]

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[edit]

The City of Santa Clara City Council[25] has governing authority over SVP. The city manager is Julio Fuentes.[26] The senior executive of the utility is John Roukema,[27] Director of Electric Utility, who reports to the city manager.

Environmental Responsibility[edit]

In response to the objective to be a sustainable city stated in the city’s general plan prepared in 2010, the city adopted a Climate Action Plan.[28] In addition, SVP 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,[29] and multiple energy efficiency rebate programs for residences[30] and businesses.[31] 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,[32] which included hydropower plants that generate up to 30 MW of power. SVP’s eligible renewable portfolio in 2012 was 24.2%.[7] When SVP’s hydropower plants that generate over 30 MW are factored in, SVP’s total “green” resource profile rises to 41.9%.[7]

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.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35][36]


  1. ^ "Silicon Valley Power Timeline". Silicon Valley Power. 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  2. ^ A Short History of the City of Santa Clara Electric Department City of Santa Clara. Electric Utility Committee.
  3. ^ Clutter, Ted J. (April 27, 2010). "Absolute Commitment: Geothermal Operations at the Geysers". Renewable Energy World.
  4. ^ a b “California and Western Electricity Supply Outlook Report, Appendices A-E” California Energy Commission (2005), p B-23
  5. ^ “City of Santa Clara Electric Resources” (2013) Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ “State, Local Agencies Come Together to Dedicate State of the Art Lodi Energy Center” Northern California Power Association news release August 10, 2012
  7. ^ a b c d "Green, Greener, Greenest: A summary of the City of Santa Clara's efforts to protect the environment".
  8. ^ “2013 Power Content Label” Silicon Valley[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Schuk, Carolyn. “Silicon Valley Power Reliability Tops National Customer Satisfaction Survey” Santa Clara Weekly. (April 17, 2013)
  10. ^ "Source Announces Top Utilities in Large Business Customer Satisfaction,” E Source Gap and Priority Benchmark 2012: A Survey of Utility Large Business Customers[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Kurhi, Eric. “Santa Clara becomes a free Wi-Fi city through power utility,” San Jose Mercury News (March 27, 2013)
  12. ^ “Library Unveils Electric Vehicle Charging Stations,” Santa Clara Weekly,
  13. ^ "Renewable Energy FAQ". Silicon Valley Power. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Utility Fact Sheet". Silicon Valley Power. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  15. ^ City of Santa Clara Electric Resources
  16. ^ “Silicon Valley Power Adds 100-Kilowatt Solar Array to Santa Clara Grid,” City of Santa Clara,
  17. ^ “Silicon Valley Power Adds 110 Million KWH Of Wind Power,” The Power of Green,
  18. ^ "California ISO". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  19. ^ "Transmission Agency of Northern California". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  20. ^ Presentation to City of Santa Clara City Council, October 29, 2013, agenda item 5A
  21. ^ “Rate Schedule D-1 Domestic Service,” City of Santa Clara, Silicon Valley Power, Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ “Rate Schedule C-1 General Service,” City of Santa Clara, Silicon Valley Power, Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Rate Plan Options". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  24. ^ "Pacific Gas & Electric Co". Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  25. ^ "Council Members" City of Santa Clara
  26. ^ “City Manager,” City of Santa Clara
  27. ^ “Executive Staff,” City of Santa Clara
  28. ^ “Climate Action Plan Overview,” City of Santa Clara, Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ “Santa Clara Green Power,” Silicon Valley Power, Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ “Rebates,” Silicon Valley Power, Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ “Energy Savings and Rebates,” Silicon Valley Power, Archived 2014-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Commission, California Energy. "AB 32 Implementation: Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards, Docket # 07-OIIP-1". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  33. ^ "Smart Energy Research | SEPA" (PDF). SEPA. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  34. ^ "Customer Ranking of Silicon Valley Power Highest in 18-Year History of Statewide Poll".
  35. ^ "US Department of Energy".
  36. ^ "Green Power Community Challenge Rankings". Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2015-03-30.