Landman, SCP ink deal with Constellation
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By Dave Williams  November 22, 2013 12:00 am

Some cities in Sonoma County moved closer to helping the efforts of Sonoma Clean Power Authority come to fruition when the new county energy agency on Nov. 19 signed a contract with energy provider Constellation in a deal expected to allow rates to be set below Pacific Gas and Electric’s proposed 2014 rates.

Cotati Mayor Mark Landman, vice chair of SCP, and SCP CEO Geof Syphers signed the contract with Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon, which was one of four power companies that made it to the final round of bidding to provide greener power to county residents and businesses.

“We're offering a better product at a better price,” Landman said. “We're on the road to fulfilling the promises of Sonoma Clean Power and this is a historic start.”

Over the next two years, SCP will phase in service of what it believes will be competitively priced greener electricity to 80 percent of Sonoma County businesses and residents. Currently, the only cities where residents and businesses cannot receive service are Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Cloverdale. However, these cities will be given another opportunity to join later in 2014.

“Constellation has an excellent management team that will solidly deliver the contracted power, including enough carbon-free power from hydroelectric and other zero-emission sources to ensure Sonoma Clean Power has lower emissions than PG&E,” Syphers said. “This decision will allow us to start the rate setting process, and it doesn't hurt to begin with lower costs.”

In addition to Constellation, SCP currently is in discussions to purchase 10 megawatts of local geothermal power from the Geysers facility, owned by Calpine.

SCP’s service will be phased in with its first 20,000 customers in May 2014. 

“After months of negotiations, we are encouraged to have received such competitive pricing for greener, cleaner energy for Sonoma County,” Syphers said. “Keeping this process competitive right up to the final hour was critical for getting good prices.”

SCP Chair Susan Gorin said, “What an incredible benefit this is for the citizens of Sonoma County, and particularly for our local businesses who will get the first shot beginning in May of next year.”

SCP is California’s second Community Choice Aggregator, following Marin Clean Energy, which has been offering alternative greener energy services to residences, businesses, and municipalities throughout Marin since 2010, and recently added the City of Richmond.

Sonoma Clean Power is totally self-funded without using tax dollars. The Sonoma County Water Agency provided early staffing and a seed loan to help get it started.

“As one of the largest energy users in Sonoma County, we are proud of our early investment in this program,” said Grant Davis, Sonoma County Water Agency General Manager.

Electricity will continue to be delivered over PG&E’s transmission and distribution system, and PG&E will maintain responsibility for meter reading, billing and maintenance. According to Syphers, “There will be no interruption in service or change in reliability. The only difference will be that participating customers will save money and receive cleaner electricity.”

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