Competition trims Sonoma Clean Power rate plan

SONOMA COUNTY -- Offering the clearest picture yet of expected pricing from a renewable energy--focused power agency under development in Sonoma County, a new report shows that a typical business customer in the launch phase of Sonoma Clean Power could expect to pay between 3.1 percent less per month and a half-percent more than conventional utility rates.

[caption id="attachment_72100" align="alignleft" width="220"] Commercial rate comparison (source: Sonoma County Water Agency; click to enlarge)[/caption]

For a business consuming 15,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, that range would be equivalent to between $80 in savings off anticipated Pacific Gas & Electric Co. rates in 2014 and a $13 increase, according to data planned to be presented to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

[caption id="attachment_72101" align="alignright" width="220"] Residential rate comparison (source: Sonoma County Water Agency; click to enlarge)[/caption]

Residential customers likely would pay between 1.8 percent less and 1.1 percent more than PG&E rates, equivalent to a range from $1.73 in savings to a $1.02 increase.

The report follows the analysis of 11 bids by companies seeking provide electricity to Sonoma Clean Power. It is a significant benchmark for a process that began with a feasibility study in March 2011, only possible after the board voted in February to become the necessary legal entity to solicit specific pricing from wholesale power providers.

It is also a question that Sonoma County municipalities have said is central to their decision to allow the agency to serve their residents and businesses. With the exception of Healdsburg, which operates its own utility under the Northern California Power Agency, all Sonoma County municipalities and unincorporated areas have expressed tentative interest in allowing residents and businesses to take part in Sonoma Clean Power.

"We've been able to synthesize these bids into rate projections," said Cordel Stillman, the water agency's deputy chief engineer. "We've had some very good responses."

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