By Amy Bolten
Sonoma Clean Power is a program being developed by the Sonoma County Water Agency to purchase electricity for Sonoma County customers. This program has multiple benefits and risks, is complex and not well understood by Sonoma County residents and businesses. In order to help the North Bay Business Journal readers understand the various aspects of Sonoma Clean Power, the Journal is partnering with the Sonoma County Water Agency to publish a series of articles discussing the various aspects of this effort. This article, the fifth in the series, discusses the goals of Sonoma Clean Power.
There are six over-arching goals of Sonoma Clean Power (SCP): 1) develop long-term rate stability and energy reliability for Sonoma County; 2) stimulate and sustain the local economy; 3) be cost competitive; 4) provide cost-effective administrative services; 5) provide local energy efficiency programs and 6) reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to power use in Sonoma County.
A primary goal of Sonoma Clean Power is to develop long term rate stability and energy reliability for Sonoma County residents. SCP will endeavor to contract for electricity using mid and long term power purchase agreements. SCP will also attempt to develop local renewable energy projects. This mix of resources will ensure more stable rates over time as SCP will not be subject to the volatility of the fossil fuel powered electricity market.
Another goal of Sonoma Clean Power is to stimulate and sustain the local economy. Currently, most power generation sources are located outside of the county. Most electricity rate revenues leave the county. Sonoma Clean Power would attempt to capture a portion of these funds and reinvest them back into the local economy through the development and operation of local renewable power facilities. SCP could also spur local job creation through smaller projects such as the installation of roof-top solar and locally managed energy efficiency programs. The creation of Feed-in Tariffs and attractive net-metering programs will contribute to this local economic growth.
For Sonoma Clean Power to be viable it will need to be cost competitive and this is one of our goals. Competition is good in any consumer market and the electricity market is no exception. Providing Sonoma County residents with a choice of power providers will introduce competition into a sector where none currently exists.
Strongly aligning with the need to be cost competitive is the fourth goal of providing cost effective administrative services. Maintaining a low overhead program will help keep electricity rates competitive.
A fifth goal is to provide local energy efficiency programs. SCP will be able to access public goods charges that now go to PG&E for efficiency programs. By tailoring efficiency programs to local industry, business and residents, we will be able to achieve a greater benefit per dollar spent.
The final goal of Sonoma Clean Power is to reduce GHG emissions related to power use in Sonoma County. Through the purchase of increased levels of renewable energy and the implementation of renewable energy incentives and energy efficiency programs, Sonoma Clean Power can provide a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity used in Sonoma County.
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