Tag Archives: Sonoma Clean Power

State, North Coast oppose President Trump’s proposed climate-change pact pullout 

Paul Payne, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

As President Donald Trump weighed a possible withdrawal Wednesday from the Paris climate change agreement, California and especially North Coast leaders pushed back, citing the environmental and economic benefits of reducing greenhouses gases while warning of an uncertain future that would come from abandoning the accord.

Trump’s threat to unravel the 2015 pact, which committed nearly every country to take action to curb climate change, drew last-minute appeals from Silicon Valley executives such as Elon Musk of Tesla and Tim Cook of Apple. It also came as Bay Area air quality officials signaled their intent to place caps on oil refinery emissions blamed for pollution and respiratory health problems.

It was clear that although Trump might reverse course on the federal level, state and local players remained committed in their efforts to fight global warming.

“The White House may be going off in one direction to pull out of the Paris compact, but California is clearly going the other way,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a member of the regional air quality board that indicated at a meeting Wednesday it would put future limits on refineries. “We are going to continue to lead as we do now.”

Alternative energy advocates said the state is at the forefront of creating a future without fossil fuels. The booming solar and wind markets are cutting emissions and creating jobs. Electric vehicle charging stations are cropping up across the land.

And utilities such as Sonoma Clean Power, which now has $1 billion in clean energy contracts, are providing customer savings while reducing carbon output over competitors like PG&E.

Read more at: North Coast opposes President Trump’s proposed climate-change pact pullout | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Sonoma Clean Power adds wind to energy sourcing

Staff Report, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Sonoma Clean Power broke ground today on a project that will update an existing wind power facility and bring more wind power in-state. The Golden Hills North Wind Facility, in the western central valley community of Tracy, will remove 283 30-year-old wind turbines and replace them with 20 2.3-megawatt GE turbines, capable of generating more power with twice the efficiency of the previous wind project.

Sonoma Clean Power is a a community choice aggregation, or CCA, organization, created under state policy that allow local governments to pool their electricity load so they can provide alternative energy sources. Currently, most wind energy in SCP”s portfolio comes from Oregon. The Golden Hills facility is forecasted to cover 6 percent of SCP’s load starting in 2018. The contract term is 20 years from full commercial operation date.

“Repowered wind facilities carry multiple benefits,” said Geof Syphers, SCP’s CEO. “One modern wind turbine replaces 21 of the old-style turbines, producing more energy. This is low-cost, clean electricity that will serve our customers of Sonoma and Mendocino counties.”

SCP is partnering with wholesale electric power generator NextEra Energy Resources. An affiliate of that company owns and will operate the wind project.

The wind project will have a generating capacity of 46 megawatts, enough to power more than 13,500 homes.SCP’s announcement stated the project will also create hundreds of union jobs during the construction phase, beginning this month, and will provide full-time employment opportunities once the project is operational at the end of 2017. The project will provide more than $10 million in property tax benefits over its projected 30-year operational life.

Fewer wind turbines will also significantly reduces bird strikes.

Source: Sonoma Clean Power adds wind to energy sourcing | The North Bay Business Journal

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Sonoma Clean Power, utilities face battle over energy costs

Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The North Bay pioneered a new type of public energy program in California seven years ago that now appears poised to change who buys electricity for homes and businesses across large swaths of the state.The programs, of which Sonoma Clean Power was an early leader, have expanded dramatically over the past several years.

Their growth is leading experts to examine how well the programs are boosting the use of renewable electricity compared to the private utilities that formerly served the same communities.

The growth is also prompting a face-off between the public programs and California’s three biggest private utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric. In the dispute, both sides have suggested their ratepayers are getting a bum deal in how the state has set the rules for this new era. For the public programs, the outcome has high-stakes implications because their customers could end up paying considerably more to offset the growing costs for excess power that the utilities contracted for but no longer need.

The public programs, typically known as Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, agencies, have grown to control about 5 percent of the state’s electricity market, a new study reports. But both utilities and other experts say that number will increase markedly as other communities join the trend.

“I think everyone who’s watching this thinks that there is going to be very rapid growth in the coming years,” said Matthew Freedman, an attorney in San Francisco with the Utility Reform Network, a ratepayer advocacy group known as TURN. Some utilities, he said, have predicted that half their customers could switch to the public programs within a decade.

Read more at: Sonoma Clean Power, utilities face battle over energy costs | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Local Organizations

Sonoma Clean Power adds electric vehicles to its fight to address climate change

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The launch of Sonoma Clean Power in spring of 2014 is widely cited as the single largest action Sonoma County has taken to address climate change locally.

The public agency and the county’s dominant electricity provider is credited with reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through large-scale purchase and delivery of renewable power from non-fossil-fuel burning sources, including geothermal and wind. Additional contracts are expected to add solar and more wind power to the mix next year, ambitious moves that represent the agency’s core mission of sourcing electricity from county- and state-based sources, while helping to stabilize rates.

Now, Sonoma Clean Power is making another huge bet: that it can convince hundreds of Sonoma County residents over the next two months to ditch their gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient wheels.

The public agency has launched a new, $2.5 million venture to help people purchase electric vehicles and install at-home charging stations, further advancing efforts to reduce climate change by targeting the largest source of pollution in Sonoma County — tailpipe emissions.

“If just 100,000 cars switched from driving on oil to driving on local renewables, we’d go a long way in achieving our climate change goals. That’s pretty extraordinary,” said Geof Syphers, chief executive officer of Sonoma Clean Power. “The state has some really strong objectives related to reducing emissions, but the state doesn’t really know how to achieve them, so this is our opportunity to experiment with relatively low risk.”

Starting Oct. 27 and through Jan. 5, Sonoma Clean Power will offer its customers $2,500 discounts — on a first-come, first-served basis — to purchase or lease a Nissan Leaf or a BMW i3, two models of electric vehicles on the market. Nissan and BMW have offered additional on-the-spot rebates against the purchase price of the vehicles at Santa Rosa-based Jim Bone Nissan and Hansel BMW.

Nissan is offering a $10,000 immediate rebate on Leaf purchases and up to $11,625 for the lease option, and BMW is offering $10,500 off for purchases and $9,500 off for leasing.

Low-income Sonoma Clean Power customers are eligible for an even greater discount of $5,000. Additional state rebates and federal tax credits are available for the purchase of electric vehicles.

Read more at: Sonoma Clean Power adds electric vehicles to its fight to address climate change | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Transportation

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors votes to join Sonoma Clean Power

Glenda Anderson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Mendocino County supervisors have formalized their intent to join public supplier Sonoma Clean Power in a bid to offer greener, cheaper electricity options to county residents.

More than 30,000 residential and commercial customers could be offered a choice between PG&E, the county’s dominant electricity supplier, and Sonoma Clean power by early next summer if things go as planned, said Christopher Shaver, Mendocino County deputy chief executive office.

The next step is for Sonoma Clean Power to grant Mendocino County membership. Its board already voted in early July to offer services in Mendocino County and several of its cities, excluding Ukiah, which has its own electric utility.

Mendocino County supervisors this week unanimously adopted a resolution stating their intent to join Sonoma Clean Power.

Read more at: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors votes to join Sonoma Clean Power | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Op-Ed: Kryptonite needed for Community Choice super fee 

Erica Etelson, CALIFORNIA CURRENT

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission kicked off what is expected to be a long and arduous process of reforming the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment. The PCIA is an ongoing fee that California investor-owned utilities impose on departing ratepayers. That is, those of us who switch to a Community Choice energy program or procure electricity from a Direct Access retailer must pony up money every month to compensate the private utilities for losses associated with stranded contracts they’ve entered (or claim to have entered) on our behalf.

Much to the surprise of community choice customers, the PCIA seems to have achieved immortality. Whereas the operating assumption was that this charge, approved last December, would ramp down and eventually disappear as stranded contracts expire, the opposite has occurred. Pacific Gas & Electric now projects that it will levy this charge on Marin Clean Energy customers until 2043.

The California Alliance for Community Energy is calling for the sun setting of the PCIA within three years of the launch of a community choice program and for the immediate cessation of the PCIA for low-income CARE customers. In our view, no amount of technocratic tinkering under the auspices of an agency as partial to the monopoly utilities as the CPUC will render the PCIA tolerable to community choice programs and their customers.

PG&E will collect an estimated $119 million in PCIA charges from community choice and direct access customers this year, nearly twice as much as last year thanks to the CPUC’s rubber-stamping of PG&E’s calculus. For community choice customers, this amounts to a line item on their monthly bill ranging from $1.00 to $29.00. To stay competitive with the incumbent monopoly utility, community choice agencies must offset their electricity rates by roughly the amount of the PCIA.

This means that community choice programs are losing millions a year in revenue that could otherwise be used for demand reduction and the development of renewable electricity projects.

Read more at: GUEST JUICE: Kryptonite Needed for Community Choice Super Fee | CA Current

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Customers of clean energy programs hit with fee increase

Lizzie Johnson, SFGATE

PG&E and other big utilities also proposed cutting the amount of compensation that solar homeowners receive for excess electricity that they export to the grid.

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to allow a nearly 100 percent price increase on exit fees for customers leaving Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for green energy programs like CleanPowerSF and Marin Clean Energy, which will make those and similar programs more expensive.

Many of the programs — where local governments buy green electricity for their residents, while private utilities own and operate the electrical grid — will be undermined financially by the uptick in the charge, called the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment, their officials say.

“We are not surprised that the increase was approved,” said Marin Clean Energy spokeswoman Alexandra McCroskey. “We are disappointed. Our primary frustrations come from the fact that we are becoming almost liable for the market fluctuations for both ourselves and PG&E. If PG&E isn’t planning appropriately for people leaving for community choice aggregation programs, the PCIA will continue to increase. It’s poor planning.”

Read more at: Customers of clean energy programs hit with fee increase – SFGate

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Op-Ed: PG&E’s plan to raise an obscure fee on your monthly bill

Woody Hastings, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Nearly 90 percent of Sonoma County Pacific Gas & Electric customers are also Sonoma Clean Power customers who may soon be hit with an electric bill increase through no fault of Sonoma Clean Power. Whether this happens depends on a decision to be made today by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The commission will decide whether PG&E and other utilities can increase a previously small charge on customers’ bills. PG&E is requesting the increase as compensation for losses the company claims to have incurred because Sonoma Clean Power customers no longer pay PG&E for power the company says it purchased on their behalf. To be clear, monthly electricity bills wouldn’t increase because Sonoma Clean Power is raising its rates, but because PG&E would be significantly increasing what is known as the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment.

Sonoma Clean Power has enjoyed a spectacularly successful launch and first full year of service. Rates are currently 6 to 9 percent below PG&E rates, including the current Power Charge Indifference Adjustment fee. Sonoma Clean Power customers’ dollars pay for 36 percent renewable energy in the basic power mix, which is about 48 percent lower in greenhouse gas emissions than PG&E’s mix. When Sonoma Clean Power considered rate changes earlier this year, it chose to keep them unchanged from the previous year, in contrast to PG&E’s 30-plus year trend of increasing rates an average of 4 percent per year.

PG&E’s proposed radical increase in the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment fee is among many attempts it has made over the past decade to crush community choice. Its attempts include aggressive anti-community choice marketing, several failed proposed laws in the state Legislature and a failed ballot initiative in 2010 on which PG&E spent $50 million of shareholder money.

The intent behind the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment is to ensure that PG&E customers do not experience any increase in their rates due to the fact that some customers have departed as new community choice customers, making the PG&E customers “indifferent” to the fact that a new community choice program has launched. The premise is that PG&E has made long-term power purchases on behalf of the community choice customers who are no longer full customers of PG&E. However, the way the fee is calculated and what purchases are counted are cloaked in mystery.

The timing of this “adjustment” to the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment coincides with the anticipated launch of San Francisco’s Community Choice program in early 2016. Many other communities in PG&E’s service territory are also on track to establish community choice programs imminently. With a dramatically increased Power Charge Indifference Adjustment, community choice programs lose their competitive edge, and the many communities currently considering Community Choice may abandon it instead.

PG&E cannot raise the fee without the state Public Utility Commission’s approval. You can reach the CPUC at public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov.

Woody Hastings is the renewable energy implementation Manager at the Center for Climate Protection, which is based in Santa Rosa.

Source: PG&E’s plan to raise an obscure fee on | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Local Organizations

PG&E’s huge profit from exit fee signals need for reform

Mark Leno & Francesca Vietor, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

No one disputes that an exit fee paid to utilities, if appropriately administered, can be a fair way to equitably reimburse existing electric customers when others leave for cleaner energy from programs such as Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, or forthcoming programs such as CleanPowerSF or Peninsula Clean Energy.

What is at issue is why the California Public Utilities Commission is not asking questions expected of an oversight body or engaging in a transparent public process in this important decision. We request that the state commission reject the PG&E proposal to double the exit fee when it votes on Thursday until the commissioners can audit PG&E’s proposed rate increase and revisit the fairness of the calculation of the fee, known as the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment.

Until that audit and public discourse has taken place, we propose that the commission temporarily cap any such increases requested by the utility. The commission should then convene a series of public workshops and attempt to create a fair and balanced process that provides equity for customers who choose to remain with PG&E and for those who choose a cleaner future through community choice aggregation programs.

If PG&E’s proposed increase to $13 from $6.70 a month is approved, it would stifle efforts of California cities to receive cleaner electricity and disproportionately charge higher fees to the poorest households. California cities and counties, energy advocates and environmental organizations are demanding that the commission enforce its own rate-making rules by taking the time to properly audit and discuss PG&E’s rate proposal.

Read more at: PG&E’s huge profit from exit fee signals need for reform

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Sonoma County greenhouse gas emissions went down in 2014, but 2015 target not likely to be met

Center for Climate Protection

Graph of ghg emissions

Sonoma County Total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions or 2014
(2015) Center for Climate Protection

The Center for Climate Protection just released its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Report for Sonoma County for 2014. The report calculates GHG emissions from major sectors to reveal trends that demonstrate progress toward the County’s goals.

The report shows us that in 2014, Sonoma County produced about 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is a decrease of about 14% from 2007, when county emissions reached a high of about 4.2 million tons.

“It’s too soon to tell if this is a trend we can count on, but we believe that we’re bringing emissions down in a real and hopefully accelerating way,” said Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Protection. The Center has been tracking the county’s greenhouse gas emissions since 2003.

The launch of Sonoma Clean Power in 2014 brings reasons for hope. Sonoma Clean Power customers receive greener electricity, which promises to play a critical role going forward.Mark Landman, Chair of Sonoma Clean Power Authority and Cotati City Councilmember reported, “In our first year of operation, Sonoma Clean Power’s electricity reduced greenhouse gas emissions 48% compared with PG&E’s power mix last published data from 2013. At the same time, our customers saved a total of $13.6 million on their bills.”

The Sonoma County Water Agency, one of the largest energy users in the county, achieved its goal of operating a carbon-free water system, procuring 100% of its electricity needs through renewable sources, thanks in part to Sonoma Clean Power.

Transportation, however, is by far the county’s largest culprit of carbon production, accounting for about 65% of Sonoma County’s total emissions.

But there’s hope here, too. According to the Center for Climate Protection’s soon-to-be-released draft report on electric vehicles, Sonoma County can significantly reduce transportation emissions by shifting from gas and diesel-powered vehicles to those powered by electricity.

“Expanding low carbon and zero emission travel is one of our top priorities,” said Suzanne Wilford Smith, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. “We aim to do this by reimagining public transportation, incentivizing EVs, looking at new policies like user-based road use fees, launching SMART, and implementing a car share program.”

Although Sonoma County is a climate protection leader, this report shows that there’s a long way to go.

Sonoma County is aiming for a 2015 target of reducing emissions 25% below 1990 levels, equal to about 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, by 2015. In 2005, Sonoma County and all nine of its cities pledged by resolution to achieve this goal, which corresponds to what is known scientifically as atmospheric carbon stabilization, the imperative for a life-sustaining climate.

“Although we won’t meet our extremely ambitious 2015 target, we’re moving in the right direction,” said Hancock. “We have to work a lot harder to move a lot faster.”

To meet the goal, emission reduction measures must overcome powerful forces, particularly increases in population and an economy largely based on fossil fuels.

Read more at: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Went Down in 2014 – Center for Climate Protection

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Transportation