Sonoma Power to start later, bigger

The public power agency that will ultimately become Sonoma Valley’s default energy provider will begin service to 20,000 customers in May of 2014.

While the customer figure doubles the original estimate of 10,000, the start date is four months later than first promised. The revisions were announced by CEO Geof Syphers at a board meeting last week.

The new county agency promises a cleaner mix of energy than PG&E, using power generated by renewable sources, at competitive rates.

Syphers said the updated start date reflected the reality of planning a seamless launch. The updated plan improves finances for the program by serving a larger customer base more quickly, he said, while providing a better schedule for educating customers and setting rates.

Year one will focus predominately on commercial accounts. Most residential customers will be eligible for service in one of the two later phases, at the start of 2015 and the start of 2016, Syphers said.

All Sonoma city and Valley customers will be switched from PG&E to SCP unless they opt out. Customers will receive two enrollment notices before their Sonoma Clean Power service starts, replacing PG&E, and two more after. Customers will always be able to change providers, the agency promises, though there may be a small fee.

“SCP is currently negotiating with power suppliers to ensure the best mix of cleaner power sources at the most competitive rates,” Syphers said. “With 79 percent of the county participating, that really increases our negotiating power.”

In what was its first meeting, the SCP board named Supervisor Susan Gorin as its chair. Councilmember Steve Barbose represents the city of Sonoma on the panel.

The SCP is seeking applications from community members interested in serving on two committees: the Business Operations Committee and the Ratepayer Advisory Committee. Applications are available at Sonomacleanpower.org.


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