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Sonoma Clean Power extends deadline for holdout cities

By MATT BROWN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County’s new public power provider is renewing its effort to woo three holdout cities into the electricity venture with an eye on spreading fixed costs over a greater number of customers and further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials in Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Cloverdale, the cities that chose to sit out the launch of Sonoma Clean Power, say they still have some questions about the agency’s business plan.

power linesAbout 24,000 power customers, including commercial accounts and 6,000 randomly selected residential accounts in Santa Rosa, Cotati, Sonoma, Sebastopol, Windsor and the unincorporated parts of Sonoma County, are eligible to receive electricity from Sonoma Clean Power on May 1.

On Thursday, the agency’s board voted to give the three holdout cities more time to decide on their participation in the agency. The deadline to avoid a fee of up to $85,000 was initially proposed for Aug. 31. It will now be the end of January. The fee is meant to cover administrative costs and other agency expenses in taking on the new cities.

Customers in any newly participating cities could be eligible for electricity service next year or in 2016.

Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, said adding customers in the three cities sooner rather than later would help the agency recover its costs within a shorter time period and make its rollout more efficient.

With the three cities onboard, the agency’s overall power delivery would rise by 27 percent, Syphers said.

He said the agency’s action Thursday — the wider decision window for cities — provided another opportunity to answer those cities’ questions.

The January deadline came about after Petaluma, the largest of the trio, requested more time.

Petaluma Mayor David Glass said he remains unconvinced about the venture.

“The little startup time is not enough for me to get comfortable,” he said. “There’s no urgency on the part of Petaluma to jump in. A couple of months is kind of irrelevant in determining whether this is fatally flawed. I think we’re very well served to sit back and let this thing play out.”

By 2016, Sonoma Clean Power aims to serve about 220,000 accounts, or 80 percent of PG&E’s electricity customers in the county.

As it stands now, the agency is set to roll out service to half of the remaining customers in early 2015 and the rest in early 2016. Customers can chose to opt out of the program and remain with PG&E.

Healdsburg is not in the mix because it has its own municipal utility.

Syphers outlined a plan Thursday that would allow all customers currently in the power authority’s coverage area to come online in 2015, with the new cities phased in sometime in early 2016. The board took no action on that plan.

New board member Gary Wysocky said the timeline for the new cities to join is more than fair.

“I think you have to tell them at some point it’s time to fish or cut bait,” he said.

Cloverdale Mayor Carol Russell said she is interested in hearing from colleagues in other cities that are part of the program. She said Cloverdale will begin reconsidering its decision within the next few weeks.

“I’m looking for (Sonoma Clean Power) to convince all of us that this is the best of two possibilities,” Russell said. “It’s essentially a business decision.”

Rohnert Park Mayor Joe Callinan said now is not a good time for the council to hear a pitch on joining Sonoma Clean Power as the city is dealing with a host of issues, including negotiations with its labor unions. He said he may be willing to reconsider in three to four months.

“We have our hands full,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything that piques my interest. I think we’re just on hold right now.”

(You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.)





10 Responses to “Sonoma Clean Power extends deadline for holdout cities”

  1. SantaRosaCitizen says:

    Paul, you can’t opt out until they are ready to provide service to you. You will get a letter in the mail at that time, with all the information you need. I found it very easy to opt out.

  2. Paul says:

    I tried to opt out online the other day. It wouldn’t work. I put in the three items, last name, ten digit acct number and my zip code 95409. I got a paragraph of red ink explaining that I was NOT eligible to join this boondoggle, that I would have to wait until 2015/2016 before being offered the opportunity to join.
    I then called them. The guy I talked to was reserved and reasonably polite, but he didn’t want to discuss the fact that the online opt out wasn’t working, but would pass the info along.
    I never did get to opt out. He told me I could not at this time, because I wasn’t being offered the service.
    I still want OUT, more than ever. If the website won’t work, what’s that say about the outfit and the people behind it?? Most importantly, more than ever I am convinced this is a major league con job being foisted on the citizens. Between the dumb train, possible fluoridation of our water supply and this power company, it’s a three strikes the taxpayers are out of money future.

  3. David says:

    You all know that Sonoma Greed Power doesn’t do anything but push paper, right? They “buy” power wholesale, pay their “board” a salary and benefits, and then “resell” the power to the end user. They don’t produce any power, they don’t own any physical plant, they do no maintenance on the plants, poles, or wires, and they don’t read any meters. What they do is pay salaries and benefits to people who do nothing to earn it. How can I set up a scam like this??

    Have you ever seen anyone from Sonoma Greed Power deny these allegations??

  4. PapaESoCo says:

    Very well said Steveguy!

  5. Steveguy says:

    An $85,000 “fee” to refuse to do business with an unknown scheme that makes no sense ?

    I wish that I could charge non-customers for refusing my work or products.

    I guess that I need a State Law to back me up with the deception and extortion.

    The Editorial Board at the Press Democrat should be tested for drugs or other mind-altering influences with their seeming silence on crucial points of all of these schemes.

    Oh wait- the “schemers” bought the paper. Journalism is lost now.

  6. The Hammer says:

    Another big scam put upon us.

  7. Henry Bernard says:

    @ Omar,

    re: “Free of bureaucracy, regulations and controversy.”

    Either you possess a wickedly subtle sense of ironic sarcasm or drinking the Kool-Aid has addled your mind.

    You suggest a ‘freedom from controversy’.

    Ann DuBay, SCWA, was responsible for contracting out to MIG Inc. the creation of SCP’s initial website. Included in the contract was mention of a pr campaign, community outreach, etc. The finalized contract was for the amount of roughly $250,000. For this princely sum, SCP received a website that was widely panned. Even SCP’s Board found it wanting, which resulted in yet more money being allocated to improve the quality and functionality of the site. The firm doing the upgrade was not MIG, though Jeff Syphers, SCP CEO was quoted as opining that he found fault neither with the site nor with MIG’s performance.,

    When SCP was initially being sold to its potential stakeholders (you and I) we were told that a major benefit was to be in keeping local money local. Local firms were to benefit from the contracts the SCP would award, local revenue would be injected into the local economy and local workers would receive compensation for work done locally. Let’s take a look at how that worked out.

    MIG Inc. is a Berkeley, CA based firm. The website lists a Kenwood office in Sonoma County. Therefore it is, ostensibly, a local company.

    A call was made to the MIG Sonoma “office”. The number was answered without being identified as MIG Inc. When asked if the caller had reached MIG, the party paused and then affirmed. When asked if she could answer how long the business had been at the Kenwood address she stated that as an employee she wasn’t qualified to answer the question and referred caller to Caroline Verheyen.

    A call was made to Caroline Verheyen. Ms. Verheyen responded that the “office” had been established about a year and a half ago as an expansion for business purposes, that it had facilitated a number of Sonoma County based contracts and that it was a legitimate business address, not a front from which to procure govt. contracts.

    A second call (the next day) was made to the Kenwood “office”. Again the phone was answered without identifying MIG Inc . The person answering stated that Caroline Verheyen wasn’t in, that she was “at the office”. To the query “Berkeley?” She replied, “Yes”.

    A call was made to MIG Berkeley. Adele, identifying herself as Business Manager, took the call. She demurred or obfuscated when asked as to the scope of work being done at Kenwood office, as to whether MIG had Sonoma county based employees, as to whether SCP work had been realized in Kenwood by Sonoma county residents. She stated that county taxes had been paid. She then referred the caller to Caroline Verheyen, stating she didn’t want to talk anymore, that the caller was “a trouble maker”. She then hung up.

    A message was left for Carolyn Verheyen who did not respond.

    ——

    MIG Sonoma is located at 100 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood, CA 95452 – it is a residence owned by Robyn E. Anderson and Caroline Verheyen (MIG Principle, Chief Operating Officer). It was purchased 12/15/2011

    The location exists in an area zoned for, primarily, agricultural use. Though a home based business is legal, local zoning relative employees, septic servicing, parking, etc. is extremely limiting and costly to circumvent. According to the County Clerk (Sept. 2013) there were neither a business license, nor a DBA on record for MIG in Sonoma County. According to the County Assessor (Sept. 2013) business taxes had neither been sought, nor remitted relative MIG Sonoma or its stated Kenwood address.

    Supervisor Susan Gorin was apprised of the suggested conflicting information. She failed to respond. Jeff Syphers, SCP CEO, was, likewise, informed. He chose to not respond. The SCP Board of Directors, individually were informed. But for Allan Keyes, none chose to respond. Supervisor David Rabbitt’s office was informed. Andrea Krout (Rabbitt’s District Director) defended MIG demanding “they answered the phone, didn’t they”? She went on to argue that if MIG Sonoma had a county address it was a legitimate business and brushed aside any concern that the Kenwood office might be a front by which to procure county business.

    Tempest in a tea pot, yes. But so soon out the gate, so immediate a reversal away from what had been promised, so blatant a disregard for potential local benefit hardly encourages a trust for SCP and those tasked with implementing its agenda.

  8. Skippy says:

    If Omar is sincere, this country is in a helluva lot more trouble than anyone suspected. God help us all.

  9. Omar says:

    Without Sonoma Clean Power, this county will face immediate doom and a very warm winter and summer. Only Sonoma Clean can save us. People are the only cause of our air pollution and steady warming. All you have to do is read the PD or any other scientific paper to understand that fact.

    Clean Power will save us, because it will like the health care act, be free. Free of bureaucracy, regulations and controversy.

    Just believe and trust our dedicated politicians who have worked so hard to bring this beautiful thing to you.

    Don’t disappoint them. Vote with you pen and phone for power to and for the people.

  10. PapaESoCo says:

    Well, “Officials” in Cloverdale, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park; just hold your ground folks, you have the ethical higher ground in this. You would serve your constituents well by “opting out” of this scam. Just sayin.