Plans for a public power agency and the renewable energy projects that could sprout with it appear to have scrambled politics in Sonoma County.
Five months from now, Sonoma County intends to launch its program to become the power supplier to 220,000 local homes and businesses, displacing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. from its position of energy dominance.
Greenhouse gas emissions declined in Sonoma County in 2011 for the third straight year, reflecting an expansion of renewable energy sources and a down economy, which lowered demand for power and transportation. Still, Sonoma County’s goal of reducing emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2015 remains elusive, officials said Tuesday.
Ann Hancock is laboring to reduce the output of automobile exhaust and other greenhouse gases in Sonoma County. She knows some people have doubts about whether even the county’s best efforts will have any impact on global warming. Why bother? See how she answers in this installment of “Sonoma Stories,” a series of profiles on people in our community.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized further study of the possible formation of a public power agency. Most speakers touted the reported benefits of a public power agency, including the boost it could give to investments in greener, renewable energy sources, faster greenhouse gas reductions and the possible creation of hundreds of local jobs through the construction and operation of local energy projects.
A move by Sonoma County government into the role of power supplier to homes and businesses would come with trade-offs, according to a new study. The average ratepayer would pay more for electricity — $4 to $10 a month — for power provided by the county, compared to PG&E. But greenhouse gas emissions would fall and the new agency would create jobs. The supes take up the report on Tuesday.
PG&E President Chris Johns said the utility would improve its cooperation with communities in the hopes of overhauling its public image following controversies over SmartMeters and a deadly pipeline explosion. He pledged that PG&E would not stand in the way of any move by Sonoma County to form a public power agency.
County leaders and renewable energy advocates are taking a hard look at creating a local agency that would buy power and resell it to Sonoma County residents. The effort has been energized by voter rejection of Prop. 16, the PG&E-backed initiative that would have made it more difficult to form such agencies.
Advocates say a local power consortium could have more control over energy prices and shift the county into greater use of renewable energy resources.
What do you think?
It’s time for Sonoma County to consider creating a community power agency that could replace PG&E. That is the opinion of builder Dick Dowd and environmentalist Ann Hancock. Such an agency could create green jobs and green energy.