Tom Butt Header E-Forum
  E-Mail Forum – 2012  
  < RETURN  
  Sonoma Clean Power Authority Created
December 5, 2012

There have been a lot of questions and some criticism about Richmond joining Marin Energy Authority, a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) joint powers authority.

It is important to understand that the Bay Area is rapidly heading this direction. The County of Sonoma just created a JPA for Community Choice Aggregation (see story below), and Berkeley and EBMUD are studying creation of a CCA. San Francisco is in the process of firing up its CCA, CleanPowerSF.


Lean Energy US

Lean Energy

December 5, 2012

Sonoma Clean Power Authority Created

On December 4, Sonoma County, California, moved several giant steps forward in developing a Community Choice Aggregation program that could reduce greenhouse gases through decreased reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources and create jobs through implementation of local energy efficiency and power projects. The Sonoma County Gazette reports that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Sonoma Water Agency Board of Directors approved the following measures:

  • Creation of a joint powers authority creating the Sonoma Clean Power Authority
  • Adoption of an ordinance authorizing implementation of a CCA, as required by California law
  • Approval of a $50,000 funding agreement with the Marin Energy Authority, California's first clean-energy CCA, which will provide consulting services during program implementation


These measures are important milestones in advancing the public power venture. As the Press Democrat reports, "the board action, which came before a packed, largely supportive audience, is the most significant step forward for the effort after 20 months of studies, surveys and public meetings." Supporters include environmental groups, union officials, and some business groups. According to one of those supporters, Dick Dowd, a Santa Rosa developer who serves on the board of the Climate Protection Campaign, which has pushed for the public power program, "This will be a tremendous stimulus to our local businesses and our local economy."

The Sonoma Clean Power Authority will be overseen initially by the Board of Supervisors and will continue to be staffed and supported by the Sonoma County Water Agency. SCP management has prompted comments by some business and community groups. The Climate Protection Campaign, the Sonoma County Alliance, and the North Coast Builders Exchange encourage inclusion of private-sector expertise on the Sonoma Clean Power board of directors. In a letter to the County Board of Supervisors prior to creation of the JPA, CPC expressed the desire that "decision makers and key staff have proven expertise in leadership, management, energy, innovative start-ups, financing, and fiscal management."

LEAN extends its congratulations to California's next clean-energy CCA.

Learn more about Sonoma Clean Power at http://www.scwa.ca.gov/cca/
or contact Program Manager Cordel Stillman at cordel.stillman@scwa.ca.gov.

Shawn Marshall
Executive Director

LEAN Energy US is committed to the accelerated expansion and competitive success of clean energy CCA nationwide. LEAN (Local Energy Aggregation Network) supports networks of community leaders, local governments, advocacy organizations, power suppliers, and consumers working toward establishment of CCAs. To learn more, please visit us at www.LEANenergyus.org.   



Berkeley studying electrical power options
By Judith Scherr
Posted:   11/29/2012 10:24:57 AM PST
Updated:   11/29/2012 10:24:58 AM PST

BERKELEY -- Like it or not, most PG&E customers get their electricity from a mix of sources that include nuclear, hydroelectric, natural gas, coal, wind and sun.
But there's a renewed effort in the Oakland-Berkeley area to create a program -- formally called Community Choice Aggregation -- where decisions are made locally on what energy sources to use and where to procure that power.
It's a chance to eliminate coal, nuclear power and "big hydro," and create local jobs at the same time, according to Tom Kelly, co-chair of the Community Choice Energy Working Group, part of a coalition supporting Berkeley efforts to implement the city's Climate Action Plan to reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
Berkeley's energy commission and various environmental organizations have been looking at creating a CCA since the state approved the framework in 2002. That legislation leaves the transmission of electrical power and administrative functions such as billing to existing utilities. Last year, new legislation, SB 790, opened the possibility for water agencies such as the East Bay Municipal Utility District to participate in CCAs.
EBMUD is exploring a CCA that could include Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito and possibly other cities under its jurisdiction. Richmond entered into a similar agreement this year with the Marine Energy Authority.
"EBMUD has a staff with tremendous expertise in the wholesale power market," said Andy Katz, who represents EBMUD customers from Oakland to El Cerrito.
If a CCA were created under EBMUD's authority, a new entity would not have to be created.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously last week to ask EBMUD to consider certain priorities when evaluating a local CAA. They asked for a "transition to a fossil fuel-free and nuclear-free energy portfolio," the procurement of renewable electricity from local sources and stressed the importance of doing so "within a reasonably competitive portfolio."
Building new local sources of energy -- such as putting solar collectors on warehouse rooftops -- is a key element in the plan, said Al Weinrub, who co-chairs the Community Choice Energy Working Group with Kelly.
"When the development of energy resources takes place close to home, that means (local) investment, that means jobs, reinvigorating the economy and reducing greenhouse gases," Weinrub said, taking a swipe at "the likes of PG&E that only cares about its own bottom line."
Not everyone is as excited about the prospects of a CCA as Weinrub and Kelly.
Scott Murtishaw, former chairman of the city's Energy Commission, underscored that the commission has yet to take a position on developing a local CAA.
One issue that he said divides members of the commission is whether to emphasize building local renewable resources and hiring locally, or whether to insist on the program's cost effectiveness.
"If you're going to launch a CCA, you need to be very clearheaded about the decisions," he said. "They shouldn't be based on unrealistic goals."
PG&E hasn't opposed an EBMUD-centered CCA publicly to date. A PG&E representative attends Energy Commission meetings as a resource, but has not addressed the CCA issue there, Murtishaw said.
A PG&E representative did not return calls for comment on this story.
PG&E has spent millions of dollars opposing CCA. In 2010, it contributed some $46 million in a failed attempt to pass Proposition 16, which would have required two-thirds approval from local voters to establish a CCA program.
In Marin County, PG&E provided more than $9 million to an effort to discourage participation in Marin Clean Energy, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
On Dec. 11, EBMUD staff will present a preliminary report to its board on establishing a CCA.