Sonoma Clean Power plugs in big geothermal, solar deals

[caption id="attachment_41811" align="aligncenter" width="500"] One of the dozen-plus geothermal plants at The Geysers area on the border of Sonoma and Lake counties supplying Sonoma Clean Power's "EverGreen" all-renewables program.[/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Startup power utility Sonoma Clean Power on Wednesday reported two long-term contracts for geothermal and solar power.

The first contract is for 10 years of geothermal power from Calpine's Geysers facilities in northeastern Sonoma County. The deal provides steadily rising volumes reaching 50 megawatts in 2018. By then the total energy coming from that source will amount to 23 percent of Sonoma Clean Power's mix.

[caption id="attachment_101552" align="alignleft" width="200"] Geof Syphers, Sonoma Clean Power CEO[/caption]

The second contract is for 20 years of solar power from Recurrent Energy, adding 40 megawatts to the agency's previous purchase of 30 megawatts for a total of 70 megawatts.

The alternative-power agency claims rates about 4 percent lower than PG&E's rates. The new geothermal and solar deals will help the agency keep its rates low into the future. Sonoma Clean Power provides electric generation service to customers in much of Sonoma County, with about 22,000 residential customers.

In December, an additional 140,000 customer accounts will be eligible to receive the agency's cleaner mix of power. All cities in Sonoma County participate in the program except Petaluma and Rohnert Park, where a vote on whether to allow participation in the agency will be taken by Jan. 31. Healdsburg has its own municipal utility and is not a part of Sonoma Clean Power.

Sonoma Clean Power said it met its early renewable-energy goals by buying short-term contracts. The new deals bring the agency's long-term contracted renewable sources in California to more than 33 percent of its total output, which exceed California's 2020 goals for utilities.

"Together, these 70 megawatts of solar and 50 megawatts of geothermal provide enough electricity to power nearly 70,000 Sonoma County homes through 2026," said Nathanael Miksis, the agency's director of power services and procurement.

"We expect to get a few local solar projects under contract in the next six months, and are excited about our ProFIT program, which lets commercial building and land owners sell us their power," said Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power. "We're talking with private companies and other public agencies about their options."

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