‘Clean Power’ agency coming to Sonoma?

Officials from Sonoma Clean Power told the city council Monday that though the price for power would be about the same, the new provider will use more renewable resources, such as solar, wind and geothermal, than PG&E.

The county-owned power agency has set a June 30 deadline for cities to be part of the new system, which will be a service option in unincorporated areas as of Jan. 1.

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) will be a not-for-profit electricity provider offering more electricity supplied from clean, renewable resources at stable and affordable rates, officials said.

Sonoma was the last city to get the official pitch. So far, Cloverdale has rejected the idea, for now, and Windsor has signed on. Councilmembers in other cities, including Santa Rosa, say there are still too many questions about SCP, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors on April 23

A Sonoma vote to support the program will likely come June 17.

SCP supporters say the program will put an end to PG&E’s monopoly, providing local competition and customer choice as well as a local say in how the new agency is managed and operated.

Presently, it is not certain how joint powers of authority will be formed and administered. There is concern that the panel could be dominated by member agencies with the most with electrical use.

If Sonoma chooses to participate, residents as well as businesses would automatically be enrolled, in gradual numbers, over a two-year period.

Customers will always be able to opt out of the county program in favor of PG&E.

SCP’s goal is to keep rates comparable with PG&E’s rates while providing a ‘greener’ product. In Sonoma the rate is projected to be from 3.1 percent below to 0.5 percent above that of PG&E.

The program has its critics. Santa Rosa resident Thom Shelton told the council, “the clean power proposal is moving ahead with little or no clear information on cost, commitment or liability.” Shelton questioned the delivery of green power and feels that most likely the program will not be able to deliver at a capacity equal to, or better than PG&E. “The truth lies somewhere between physics, policy and reliability.”

On June 17 the Sonoma council will consider the options and if approved, “it will be the first step for Sonoma’s participation in Sonoma Clean Power,” said City Manager Carol Giovanatto. Monday’s informational presentation “was to allow an opportunity for councilmembers to receive feedback specifically from Sonoma residents and businesses.”

Jonathan Farrell | Sonoma Valley Sun

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