Cotati signs on with SCP
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By Dave Williams  July 4, 2013 09:12 am

Sonoma Clean Power welcomed another city into its fold when Cotati on June 26 joined the agency seeking to overtake Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as Sonoma County’s primary power supplier.

The Cotati City Council unanimously voted to join the public power agency, as a near capacity audience roared its approval. All but two audience members who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting voiced their support to join the power agency.

The unanimous approval also came amid concerns over how much influence Cotati and other small cities in Sonoma County would have in running SCP. Because Cotati is one of the smaller cities and the voting rules are weighted toward those with the highest percentage of PG&E electric meters in the county, Santa Rosa would appear to have the most influence as it has 34.7 percent, while unincorporated areas have 32.5 percent.

The county board, at a meeting earlier this week rejected a request by smaller cities for more say in governance. 

The city council was reassured by representatives of SPC there would be balance and that Santa Rosa would not be able to push through governance changes over the objection of other cities. 

“We do have concerns,” Cotati Mayor Mark Landman said. “But this is about giving the citizens of Cotati a choice and an alternative to PG&E. And we (Cotati) would have a lot more influence if we had a seat at the table.”

Landman pointed out that if there were a vacant seat on the governing board, the extra seat would go to Santa Rosa because of its population.

Santa Rosa’s City Council, however, flexed some of its muscle at its meeting on July 2 when it gave a not so subtle hint that it would not participate unless several  changes to the agency’s governing structure were made. Another concern for Santa Rosa centered on the lack of detail and specifics of a business plan, including the long-term financing and operational plans. The Santa Rosa council’s biggest fear was its citizens being stuck with a huge bill should things go awry for the agency.

Santa Rosa’s next city council meeting is scheduled for July 9, where it is expected to make a decision on joining the power agency.

SCP is a program designed to provide electric power to the residents, businesses and institutions in participating jurisdictions throughout Sonoma County. SCP will be operated by a joint powers authority formed by the County of Sonoma and the Sonoma County Water Agency and will include the cities of Sonoma County which decide to join. SCP is expected to start providing service to a small portion of customers at the beginning of 2014, pending a final vote to proceed by its Board of Directors. 

Santa Rosa and Sebastopol will decide whether or not to join SCP in July, while Petaluma will make its choice in September. 

The Sebastopol City Council on July 2 voted 4-1 to join the power agency. Thus far, Cotati, the Town of Windsor, Sebastopol and unincorporated Sonoma County have joined the power agency.

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