SANTA ROSA -- The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, acting as the Sonoma County Water Agency board of directors, today approved funding for the development of a feasibility study to develop a local community choice aggregation, or CCA, program.
Up to $150,000 was approved for the feasibility study, and up to $100,000 for Rusty Klassen of Marshall-based Local Power to develop the water agency's renewable energy programs. The action came at the same time the board approved and authorized the water agency to implement its new Energy Policy.
“The financial impact and economics involved in implementing such a program could be significant. The ability to invest power revenues locally while creating green jobs for County residents is attractive and this study will be looking at these opportunities,” said water agency board chairman and Supervisor Efren Carrillo.
In 2002, the California Legislature enacted legislation permitting the creation of CCA programs. Under the legislation, a city, county or joint powers agency (two or more cities and counties) may implement a CCA program.
Once formed, residents within the CCA service area can opt out of the CCA and continue to receive power from the utility (e.g., PG&E). Those that do not opt out will have their power supplied by the CCA entity. The utility continues to provide and bill CCA customers for power transmission and other services (e.g., meter reading, billing, etc.). Only the electricity generation portion of electricity service is provided by the CCA entity.
A similar program, Marin Clean Energy, is operating in Marin County.
The feasibility study will examine whether such a program provides Sonoma County residents with renewable, locally-produced power at a reasonable and stable cost.
The study will be coordinated by a steering committee composed of the Water Agency, the Regional Climate Protection Authority, the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the County’s Auditor and General Services departments, city representatives and community stakeholders.
Implementing a CCA in Sonoma County could have multiple benefits, including increased local control over power generation and rates, a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, local economic benefits, and the opportunity to increase local energy efficiency and conservation efforts, as well as potential integration of carbon sequestration programs.
"The county has been a trail blazer through numerous sustainable energy initiatives in the past, and thanks to the Water Agency’s hard work, this feasibility study lays the foundation for a bright future. This Energy Policy will allow us to reinvest into our local economy while doing the right thing for the environment,” said Supervisor Mike McGuire.
The water agency has a unique interest in energy matters, arising from three factors. First, the agency is a large consumer of electrical energy. Second, it is a producer of electricity. Third, the agency has been a leader in climate change mitigation activities and is pursuing and has pursued numerous renewable energy projects.
The water agency currently operates 4.4 megawatts of renewable solar and hydropower facilities, and has up to 22.4 megawatts in renewable energy projects in development. The county of Sonoma operates two solar systems totaling 820 kilowatts and a 1.4-megawatt fuel cell. An additional 5 to 6 megawatts is generated through capture and combustion of methane gas at the county’s landfill.