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Sonoma Clean Power takes ‘interim’ from CEO’s title


Geof Syphers, the interim chief executive of Sonoma County’s startup public power agency since July, has been given the job on a permanent basis, Sonoma Clean Power announced Friday.

Syphers, 43, will go to work Jan. 3 under a three-year contract. His starting salary will be $205,000.

A former sustainability expert for Codding Enterprises, the Rohnert Park development firm, Syphers has been involved in Sonoma Clean Power from its earliest formal stages, starting as a consultant to the county Water Agency in 2012.

Geof Syphers.

Geof Syphers.

As the acting CEO in recent months he has played a central role in the program’s political, financial and operational development, juggling roles as its top administrator, lead spokesman and key negotiator in crucial power supply contracts.

On Friday he called the job “the most challenging and most rewarding experience I’ve had in my work life.”

The power agency intends to begin electricity service in May, marketing a product that supporters say will be greener than energy supplied by PG&E and competitive with the utility giant’s rates.

Draft retail rates unveiled this week could end up beating those proposed by PG&E next year, offering the first wave of customers some modest savings on their electricity bill.

Still, the effort has been questioned by some city officials, fiscal watchdogs and skeptical customers.

Syphers, trained as an engineer with a background in energy, has proven himself to be a collaborative leader and “careful communicator” while leading the new agency through rocky recent months, said Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, Sonoma Clean Power’s chairwoman.

Gorin said the board of directors unanimously supported Syphers’ promotion. “He has performed admirably to meet all of our expectations,” she said.

Syphers immediately becomes one of the highest salaried officials in local government, though his current pay under the interim agreement is even greater, at $19,833 a month. That contract included no benefits.

His new contract calls for a set of raises and other pay increases tied to the agency’s ability to retain customers.

After the first guaranteed 3.5 percent increase in July, additional increases could boost his pay by up to 14 percent through 2016.

In negotiating Syphers’ salary, Gorin said officials looked at several other government agencies but found few comparable positions. The post that most closely resembles Syphers’ job, Gorin said, is Dawn Weisz’s post as executive officer for Marin Clean Energy. Weisz is paid $247,500 annually and has benefits worth $30,316.

“The board immediately rejected that as a comparable. We didn’t even look at that,” Gorin said.

Syphers will also receive a benefits package of $36,000. Most local government employees, including rank and file workers, have benefit packages worth more than that, with top officials getting packages two to three times as costly.

Syphers, who will not receive a traditional defined benefit pension, said the lower benefits package sets “a new paradigm” for local public agencies.

He also noted that his pay will not be covered by taxpayers but by customers who can opt out, thus tying his compensation — low for a top official in the energy sector, he said — with the viability of the venture.

He described the job as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to creating a clean energy economy for our community,” he said.

11 Responses to “Sonoma Clean Power takes ‘interim’ from CEO’s title”

  1. The Hammer says:

    I agree, way too much money for this job.

  2. Barbara says:

    As anticipated, the greenest thing about SCP are the green backs paid to the managers and employees.

  3. steve humphrey says:

    I find it interesting that when reporting how “green” this power alternative is going to be the Press Democrat writers always leave out the part about offsetting carbon credits to achieve those numbers.

  4. taxpayer says:

    Just like BELL, CA. A big party,not a worry in the world….

  5. Shocked Monkey says:

    Not bad money for a guy that “trained as an engineer”.

    That is code for “no” college degree but it is clear pay back to the Codding empire for their cronyism.

    I’m opting out even if it is less expensive. Vote with your wallet.

  6. Rookie fever says:

    This guy is a total rookie when it comes to running a $100 Million enterprise, yet the Supervisors and Sonoma Clean Power board members are gonna pay him $205,000 plus $36,000 in benefits?

    Plus automatic raises?

    If these politicians were spending money from their own cities or county bank accounts, where they would have to answer to voters, they’d never be able to get away with this grandiosity.

    Because it’s “just” ratepayers’ money, and there is no way to vote for these characters, they are treating it like FREE money.

    Only it ain’t.

    What a bunch of irresponsible scam artists.

  7. Opt OUT! says:

    Greed! Just shear Greed! Why should anyone make 20k a month? Would someone do this job for 10k a month? Is this guy going to perform some unbelievable feat that will save us all millions of dollars. Vote out all the fine politico that think this is the way to do business!

  8. MendoTech says:

    I was confused: I thought the “green” in the SCP Ponzi scheme had to do with how the energy was harvested.

    Now it becomes clear: The real “green” is what these do nothings are lining their pockets with!

  9. Steveguy says:

    Excuse me, but this quote disturbes me- ” On Friday he called the job “the most challenging and most rewarding experience I’ve had in my work life.”

    OK, so it was a challenge to get so rewarded. Over the top rewarded. Just because Marin overpays for their scheme doesn’t mean that should have to.

    What does Healdsburg pay ?

  10. Papa ESoCo says:

    Sure is a lot of money, just to head up a Ponzi scheme. Healdsburg gets 100% Geysers power and the ratepayers there pay 20% less than PG&E rates. SCP wants a surcharge of 20% if YOU want 100% Geysers Power. Is that simple enough math? Besides, we are all already getting power from guess where? If you said Geysers, you get a prize; opting out of this scheme.

  11. dbaker says:

    “the interim agreement is even greater, at $19,833 a month.”

    $20K/Month is green all right, but when I consider the boondoggle potential it looks red to me. What exactly has this clown done that is so “admirable” and valuable to WE THE PEOPLE that it’s worth giving him the annual salary of those he serves, every single month? Master and servant, these words denote a hierarchy that has never been hard to distinguish. In Man’s past it has always been the state that was clear master and sovereign over the servant population. No foreign, unacquainted observer would mistake Nero, Stalin, or Mao for a servant who works for the peasants and lives by the consent of the public. Yet if someone were to drop in from Mars and see this they would likely consider us a pathetic race of cowards that would rather suffer complete tyranny of even our own minds, than admit the inescapable, undeniable, fact that we have been relieved of our seat with nature’s God and accepted, UNOPPOSED, a status that is equivalent to a dog.

    Nature/God created man, all of us. Man chose to institute what has become known as the state in an effort to serve his interests and improve his life. Government grants charter to corporations who through privilege enjoy some legal protection to operate as a fictional persona. Authority is very simple to understand and then assert that which you have been bullied into forgetting. See the people who act as implements of the state or corporations have all the same rights as you so they as individuals are free to pursue their own interests or the interests of shareholders, until the interests require the exercise of unnatural and baseless authority that conflicts and offends the natural balance that binds us all as equals. Liberty and the reciprocal showing of respect for one another’s rights and the humility to know your place and mind your business. The act of submitting to a ruler and accepting false claims that are unmistakably, transparent in their lack of reason as justification for the most vile, immoral, and unnatural oppression possible is demoralizing in the extreme.

    Pretending that this guy is somehow 12 times more valuable to society than the 50% of Americans that used to make everything we needed from food to skyscrapers is a sick joke. 40,000 + Factories taken from the American worker in just a decade. He’s told to adopt a service economy and extended credit so that he can still afford to buy the slave goods from China. Now he contends with a prison population of 3,00,000 workers who are the wards of the corporate state and forced to work for $.10/hour so they can spend it on $.45 ramen packs from the company store. It was “innovative” folks that have labeled you a RESOURCE like cement to be exploited and traded for the accumulation of electronic digits added to a ledger in a bank. They think nothing of you. They profit from taxes you spend half of everyday working for free to pay. Serfdom was good compared to what you call freedom. The serfs would revolt over taxes higher than 10% and the landlords knew it. I guess football and worshiping movie stars is all that matters

    I read a little through Simon’s (Codding’s partner) financial report for 2012 a bit ago. The report shows that the company took a loss of around $360,000,000 last year but that it was irrelevant due to the increase in dividends enjoyed by those holding the companies stock. They were able to cushion the blow by cutting operating costs and selling nonessential properties. They’re plan for future growth and profits are all dependent upon the blood of the rest of us through a pursuit of “green technology” and the Fascist conduit of the state bridging the income transfer from flesh and blood life to the monster of Frankenstein. That’s what we’ve got now, an abomination to nature and a threat to all of us.

    So, I am going to make a prediction and it’s not really a guess but an honest look and evaluation of the history and success rate of the fascist gangsters in all of their joint ventures going back to at least the continental railroad. I predict this “servant” to personally gain vast sums of wealth through the avoidance of economic and moral law. They will use the art of money creation packaged in the unoffensive and non-threatening delivery mechanism of grants and tax credits to keep the facade of an actual viable alternative to the steady, predictable, and CLEAN power created by coal. Until the fraudulent and UNSUSTAINABLE practice of running a business that requires billions of dollars of free funny money to operate, takes enough market share from the PG&E villains causing some sort of crises in infrastructure due to the astronomical operating costs to maintain a system strung across the sky on sticks… After all of this and their pockets are bulging and their people are worse off they will quietly sell the company to some conglomerate out of Arizona and act like it never happened.

    The only question left is you. What will you do in the face of cartoon like fraud and uncontrollable corruption? Is there any person or force on Earth that is afforded the same good faith as you give to the state and its transnational, allegiance to no nation, buddies? It’s time to tell the drunk violent guy at the party to take off and if he takes a swing at you who cares. Talk is cheap.