Choice has now come to most of Sonoma County when it comes to who will provide your power. There are three primary types of providers, and we now have one of each in Sonoma County.
The City of Healdsburg is a Municipal Utility District, or (MUD). A MUD provides electrical services to those in their area (in this case the City of Healdsburg). They have their own crews that work on the power lines, maintain the infrastructure, install the meters, handle the billing, and are responsible for providing energy contracts and policy for their customers.
Pacific Gas and Electric – PG&E is an Independently Owned Utility (IOU), which means it is owned by investors (shareholders). PG&E handles all of the transmission and distribution for our county, outside of the City of Healdsburg. This means they maintain the electric grid (poles, power lines, meters etc) and bill customers. They also provide generation services and policy to customers who have opted out of Sonoma Clean Power (about 15% of the county). The services include the actual power from power plants (gas and nuclear), hydro, solar, as well as our own Geysers. PG&E also covers policies for these customers, from energy efficiency to the low-income support of the CARES program.
Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is our newest addition, a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). SCP has the ability to select goals, pricing and policy for their customers. In this case it is about 80% of Sonoma County energy users. PG&E is still responsible for the infrastructure and billing (transmission and distribution), crediting their previous generation amount and adding in a generation charge for SCP.
What benefits does a CCA like SCP offer?
1) Create competitive pricing. At the time of this release, SCP power was 5-10% less expensive then PG&E’s generation costs, and they only raise rates annually.
2) Create policies to reduce green house emissions (their energy portfolio is made up of 50% more renewable energy then PG&E),
3) Discourage use of some types of energy production. SCP has no nuclear power in its portfolio.
4) Encourage/promote other types of power like solar by providing bonus generation credits for homeowners with no expiration of credits (as with PG&E).
5) Create products, like EverGreen, a product a customer can feel good about. With EverGreen, customers are paying a little more to get 100% geyser power (100% renewable).
6) Create local jobs – They have the ability to create local jobs through building local renewable energy projects (solar or wind).
So as you can probably guess, full disclosure, I am a huge fan of CCA and SCP. I sat on the task force that helped create the initial direction of SCP. I have been impressed with their responsiveness to the local community, even in the first year of start-up. They are creating a model for other cities and counties to follow. So the good news is that in most parts of the Sonoma County, you now have a choice. Take the time to learn about your options and find the utility company that best fits your needs. – Jeff Mathias – Owner