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County Water Board Votes to Take “All Steps Necessary” to Create Sonoma Clean Power

Santa Rosa, CA – The Sonoma County Water Agency Board voted today to “authorize and direct staff of the Sonoma County Water Agency to take all steps necessary to implement the Sonoma Clean Power program.” Climate Protection Campaign applauds the Board for moving forward decisively.

“It’s all systems go,” said Climate Protection Campaign Executive Director Ann Hancock. The Santa Rosa-based organization has worked to advance Sonoma Clean Power since 2005. Five years ago, their analysis identified Community Choice as the most powerful tool under local control for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other actions authorized by the board include:

  • Signing a letter of intent with First Community Bank and negotiating a final loan agreement for startup funds.
  • Negotiating contracts with energy service providers.
  • Meeting with city councils to encourage them to participate.
  • Refining the Implementation Plan.
  • Hiring a marketing firm.

The board voted 4-1 to launch the program for the unincorporated portions of the county. All other action items were approved unanimously.

At the board meeting, Supervisor Susan Gorin said: “Sonoma County can lead the way. Let’s be bold. Let’s move forward and show other communities it can be done.”

Last week, the provisional Sonoma Clean Power Authority staff announced that projected rates for cleaner power from Sonoma Clean Power will be competitive with PG&E’s. This news comes from the agency’s preliminary analysis of power supply bids submitted by eleven private energy service companies.

The Board cited increased renewable energy use, local economic benefits, providing choice and competition, and local control as primary reasons for creating Sonoma Clean Power. In particular, the staff report to the board found that Sonoma County residents and businesses spend $180 million each year on electricity generation, and steering some of that money toward local projects would give the region an economic boost. The report states: “By keeping the generation revenues ‘at home’ and focusing on local programs, Sonoma Clean Power will create local jobs and improve the local economy.”

“We can make great things happen with local renewable energy resources, but only if we control the means for doing so,” said Hancock. “Once Sonoma Clean Power exists, it’s game on for companies to tap local clean power opportunities.”

Supervisor Efren Carrillo, a long-time champion of the effort and member of the Board’s ad hoc committee evaluating the plan, stated that “local control means emergence of local business opportunity.”

According to analysis of the bids received for power supply, a typical business paying $2542 per month under PG&E will pay an estimated $2462 to $2555 with Sonoma Clean Power. A typical resident paying $96.56 with PG&E will pay an estimated $94.83 to $97.58 with Sonoma Clean Power. These estimates fall well within the acceptable threshold for most consumers, according to market surveys conducted last year.

Sonoma Clean Power is an emerging not-for-profit local electricity service provider. It will, for the first time in years, offer businesses and residents of Sonoma County a choice for electricity service.

If the program is launched in early 2014, as is currently projected, electricity bill-payers in participating cities and the unincorporated portion of Sonoma County will be enrolled into the program. They can choose to stay with Sonoma Clean Power by doing nothing or choose PG&E by opting out of Sonoma Clean Power.

The next step in the process is for cities to decide whether they will give their residents a choice of power suppliers. City councils will be meeting over the next two months to consider joining Sonoma Clean Power.

“We would like everyone in Sonoma County to have the ability to choose,” said Woody Hastings, Renewable Energy Implementation Manager for the Climate Protection Campaign. “Everyone will if their city councils vote to give them the choice.”

At the board meeting, Supervisor Shirlee Zane said, “I am a resident of Santa Rosa and I want the choice.”

For More Information: Woody Hastings
707-525-1665, ext. 117