Sonoma County is the second in California to create its own renewable energy power agency, which will aggregate purchases for all municipalities that participate.
"Sonoma Clean Power can provide multiple benefits to our community. These include greenhouse gas reductions resulting from greener, less carbon-intensive energy sources as well as job creation through the implementation of local efficiency and power projects, and local control," says Shirlee Zane, Chair of the county's Board of Supervisors and Water Agency.
Municipalities throughout the county can now opt in. All the municipalities in Marin County now participate in its program.
Here's how it works. The agency solicits rate proposals from power wholesalers and then the power is delivered by the existing utility (PG&E), which also provides customer service and billing. Customers can choose to opt out of the program.
Rates are expected to be 1-4% higher than those of PG&E for about 20 years, and will drop over time.
One of the benefits is that the agency can establish favorable payments to customers that send energy back to the grid from their renewable energy systems, such as rooftop solar PV. It is also expected to incentivize development of local renewable energy projects, both large and small.
When the program launches in 2014, a third of the energy mix will come from renewables, rising to a minimum 50% in the following years. PG&E currently provides 16% renewables in its mix.
Marin's program has attraceted 75% of commercial and residential customers, even though it costs averaging $3.85 more a month than PG&E.
Sonoma County is much bigger than Marin and could attract many more customers.
Here's the website for Sonoma Clean Power: