RCEA Board Approves Humboldt Redwood Company Agreements

On Monday afternoon the Redwood Coast Energy Authority unanimously approved two separate purchase agreements with Humboldt Redwood Company and directed staff to start the process to procure further biomass energy from DG Fairhaven.

All board members were present except Rio Dell’s representative Tim Marks. About 25 people packed into the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District board room in Eureka to hear the decisions.

RCEA executive director Matthew Marshall walked through the basics of the agreement and provided background on the issue. For the first nine months, covered by the first contract, Humboldt Redwood Company will provide five megawatts at $83 per megawatt per hour. For the 51 months following that, the company will provide 12.5 megawatts of power at the same price. This negotiated price is above the market value for other power sources but Marshall said those cheaper power sources are large-scale products and the goal of RCEA’s community energy program is to provide locals with locally produced power at 3 percent savings compared to Pacific Gas and Electric Company Co. rates.

“There’s basically a price premium,” he said, adding that local energy sources have other benefits such as providing local jobs.

At the request of the board, language was added to both contracts stipulating the board can renegotiate if customers aren’t getting that 3 percent savings, if minimum power requirements are not being met or if customer participation drops too much.

General counsel Nancy Diamond presented the board with a clause added to ensure power producers RCEA contracts with follow environmental and regulatory laws.

“What we attempted to do was not second-guess the different regulatory agencies. I know air is the main issue,” she said, adding other issues such as water may come up too, so the language was written broadly to encompass the rules and laws of all applicable regulatory agencies.

If a regulatory agency finds one of RCEA’s power suppliers aren’t following regulations they can serve the supplier with a “notice to cure,” she said. This would tell the supplier to fix that noncompliance issue within 20 days.

“If it’s not done, basically the contract terminates,” Diamond said.

After unanimous approval of those two contracts the board moved on to discuss procuring power from another biomass plant. The two other biomass plants in Humboldt County, DG Fairhaven in Samoa and Blue Lake Power in Blue Lake, submitted proposals. The board unanimously voted to begin the process to procure power from DG Fairhaven, citing fewer community complaints and a better track record.

“The third location in Blue Lake has, unfortunately, too many skeletons in the closet,” board member Dean Glaser, representing Fortuna, said.

RCEA board meetings are the third Monday of every month at 3:15 p.m., according to the RCEA website.

An RCEA net energy metering workshop is scheduled on Friday morning in Eureka. Three homeowners workshops are also scheduled in the coming months.

“Learn how to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient while taking advantage of available rebates, financing, and tax credits,” the website states.

Access more information at redwoodenergy.org.

RCEA Board Approves Humboldt Redwood Company Agreements, by Hunter Cresswell, Eureka Times-Standard, March 20, 2017.

Sonoma Clean Power to Provide Electricity to Mendocino County in June

Sonoma Clean Power has scheduled
the following public meetings
to learn more about services and
options in Mendocino County:

Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.
Coast Community Library
225 Main St., Point Arena

Monday, March 27, 6-9 p.m.
Mendocino Community Center
998 School St., Mendocino

Wednesday, April 5, noon-1 p.m.
Point Arena City Hall
24000 S. Highway 1, Point Arena

Monday, April 17, 6-7 p.m.
Willits City Hall
111 E. Commercial St., Willits

As many as 30,000 Mendocino County households are slated to automatically switch electricity providers in June, when Sonoma Clean Power becomes their default provider.

Sonoma Clean Power promises to provide greener electric power to customers than Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for about 1 percent less. Sonoma Clean Power’s basic energy supply is 36 percent renewable compared with PG&E’s North Bay and North Coast California production supply, which is 33 percent renewable, according to the two agencies. Renewable energy includes solar, wind, steam power, biomass and small hydroelectric plants.

People who want to totally commit to renewable energy and are willing to pay extra for it can sign up for Sonoma Clean Power’s EverGreen program, which offers 100 percent local, renewable energy.

Unless electric utility customers in the county and three of its cities — Fort Bragg, Willits and Point Arena — contact Sonoma Clean Power and opt out of the new service, they automatically will be enrolled. Ukiah electric customers are not included because the city has its own municipal electric utility.

Current PG&E customers will continue to be billed through the company, which also will continue to provide and repair electric utility infrastructure.

The new program is a good deal for Mendocino County residents, said Supervisor Dan Hamburg, a member of the Sonoma Clean Power board.

“I think they will have more say over the kind of energy they use,” he said. And the price of that energy could decrease further if a challenge to the fees PG&E is allowed to collect in compensation for the loss of customers is successful, Hamburg said.

Sonoma Clean Power is part of a movement nationally toward local control of utilities through what is called “community choice aggregation” agencies. Such agencies were authorized by state law in 2002. Marin County launched the first of its kind in California in 2008.

There currently are eight agencies operating in California, said Sonoma Clean Power spokeswoman Kate Kelly.

Sonoma Clean Power will be making several community presentations throughout the county beginning Wednesday at the Point Arena library from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sonoma Clean Power to Provide Electricity to Mendocino County in June, by Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat, March 20, 2017.

 

Sonoma Clean Power Becomes Default in June

The Fort Bragg City Council met Monday evening to discuss the Georgia-Pacific mill site, Sonoma Clean Power (Fort Bragg’s new default electricity provider), upgrades to local streetlights and more.

SONOMA CLEAN POWER

Sonoma Clean Power will become the default electricity provider in the area in coming months after a decision by the City Council to proceed with the option last year.

Customers in Fort Bragg will be automatically enrolled in SCP CleanStart service on their June meter read date, unless they choose to opt out and continue service only with PG&E or opt up to SCP’s EverGreen Service.

SCP Public Affairs and Marketing Director Kate Kelly and SCP Director of Customer Service Erica Torgerson gave a presentation to the City Council Monday night to reiterate the concept and implementation timeline of the new service provider.

The pair plan on attending multiple additional public meetings.

“We’re really hoping to make ourselves accessible to the public and make this as transparent as possible,” said Kelly.

Since PG&E lines will still carry the electricity and PG&E will continue maintenance of the lines, customers’ PG&E accounts will not be terminated. Instead, households will now receive electric generation from SCP and continue to receive electric delivery from PG&E. Bills will include SCP’s electric generation charges and PG&E’s generation credit.

“This is what you would have paid PG&E for electric generation,” said Kelly. “So it’s not an additional charge, but now it will be separated out so you can see the two.”

PG&E discounts such as the CARE, FERA and Medical Baseline programs will continue automatically; there’s no need to reapply.

Enrollment notices will go out to customers early next month and again in May and June.

The Sonoma Power representatives on hand assured the audience that the company won’t be taking jobs from PG&E employees who live locally.

Another presentation is planned for Friday, March 17, at the Fort Bragg Senior Center from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

For a complete list of public meetings on the subject refer to www.sonomacleanpower.org/events or call Sonoma Clean Power at 855-202-2139.

Sonoma Clean Power Becomes Default in June, by Kelci Parks, Fort Bragg Advocate-News, March 16, 2017.

Sonoma Clean Power to Become Willits’ Default Provider

Willits residents can expect changes to their electric bills starting in June.

Sonoma Clean Power, which became Mendocino County’s main electric supplier last fall, is bringing its services to Willits. Starting on the city’s June meter read date, all homes and businesses will automatically be enrolled in the power agency’s default service, running on 36 percent renewable power compared to PG&E’s 30, according to Erica Torgerson, Sonoma Clean Power’s director of customer service.

Sonoma Clean Power, a public but privately-funded agency serving Sonoma County since 2014, boasts cleaner power and lower prices than PG&E, acting as its “competitive partner,” according to Kate Kelly, director of public affairs and marketing. The two compete on the delivery side, but not on the generation side (collecting the energy from the source), and they share customers.

Customers have the option to opt out of the new service for free within the first 60 days if they’re concerned about reliability, which some Sonoma County customers in 2014 cited as their reason for declining the service, CEO Geof Syphers told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He said that reliability would remain the same because those aspects did not change hands. The agency’s current participation rate (customers that have not opted out) in Sonoma County is 88 percent, Torgerson said in an email. Customers can also upgrade to the ultimate eco-friendly service that uses 100 percent renewable power and costs about 1 percent or $13 more per month.

The Santa Rosa newspaper reported in May 2015 that Sonoma Clean Power customers were saving between 6 and 9 percent on their electricity bills compared to PG&E’s rates, based on a monthly pricing report published by PG&E.

Torgerson told the Willits City Council on Wednesday that Sonoma Clean Power’s total electric bill rates are about 1 percent lower than PG&E across the board, based on March 2015 estimates. She also said that customers would be given a comparison of rates between Sonoma Clean Power and PG&E based on average usage, but not on individual bills. Further rate comparisons can be found on the agency’s website.

Customers will still receive only one electric bill, but it will look a little different. For one, a “generation credit” will show what PG&E would have charged for electric generation, which can be used to calculate the cost difference with Sonoma Clean Power. PG&E will stop charging for collecting the energy (now a separate charge named “Sonoma Clean Power generation charge”), and will continue to charge only the delivery fee (along with other regular fees). And a “vintage power charge indifference adjustment,” a fee required by PG&E, makes sure that customers who switch to Sonoma Clean Power pay for the above-market cost of energy that PG&E bought on their behalf before changing service.

Torgerson said on Wednesday that the vintage charge is hard to explain, because it is calculated in a “black box,” and that it could take up to 30 years to go away.

The new service provides incentives for solar customers, offering them the chance to earn credits on their electricity bills by contributing to the grid. Customers can save by installing solar panels or wind turbines.

The agency will mail its first round of notices in April. Representatives will hold public meetings throughout the summer to explain the coming changes, the first on March 16 at the Willits Harrah Senior Center.

Sonoma Clean Power to Become Willits’ Default Provider, by Ashley Tressel, Willits News, March 9, 2017.

New Energy Authority Aims to Reduce Rates by 2.7 Percent

Officials with the Redwood Coast Energy Authority expect to provide electricity to utility customer in Humboldt County at a lower rate than is currently offered once the community choice aggregation program launches May 1.

Andrea Alstone, manager of power resources with RCEA, said the organization plans to offer an electric generation rate that will be 2.7 percent lower than Pacific Gas & Electric Company currently offers.

“One of the biggest reasons we are able to provide lower rates is we are a nonprofit company,” Alstone said. “We don’t have shareholders, so we are not obligated to go out and make any profit for our shareholders.”

Alstone said the organization’s lower overhead and fewer contractual obligations also contributed significantly to its ability to provide what is expected to be a lower rate.

PG&E charges an electric generation rate that changes for customers based on a tier-based system, but rates were competitive, according to spokeswoman Deanna Contreras.

Richard Engel, director of power resources for RCEA said once the new program launches, electrical-utility customers in the county will be automatically enrolled in the publicly run program.

“The decision-making is being made here in Humboldt County,” Engel said. “We have a board of directors that consist of elected officials from the county. Members of the public can come and comment and tell us what they like and don’t like about what we’re doing.”

The program is governed by elected officials from Humboldt County and the cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Blue Lake, Trinidad, and Rio Dell — Ferndale didn’t opt into the program, according to a statement from the energy authority.

Jay Parrish, Ferndale city manager, said the city council opted out of the program initially but would likely reconsider the matter within a year.

“They wanted to wait and let the dust settle before they decided to get in or not,” he said of the Ferndale City Council’s decision.

According to Engel, the local the energy authority is poised to offer an option to utility customers that allows them to supply their homes with power sourced entirely from renewable sources for 1 cent more per kilowatt-hour of their base rate.

Contreras noted that PG&E also offers a similar renewable energy plan.

“For more than 100 years, it has been PG&E’s privilege to provide our customers clean reliable and affordable energy, and we look forward to the opportunity to do so for many years to come,” Contreras said in an email. “At the same time, we respect the energy choices that are available to our customers, and will continue to cooperate with local governments as they consider pursuing and/or developing a (community choice aggregation) program. PG&E delivers some of the nation’s cleanest electric power.”

About 55 percent of the electric company’s electricity comes from carbon-free resources, according to Contreras.

Engel said the energy authority is currently set to provide energy sourced from a solar farm in Riverside, a wind farm in Sherman County, Oregon, and a wind farm in Walla Walla, Washington.

Residents in Sonoma, Marin, and San Francisco counties have opted into similar programs, according to a statement from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority.

“We’re excited to be bringing community choice to Humboldt County,” RCEA executive director Matthew Marshall said. “The successes of other CCEs in California are impressive, offering citizens lower rates, local control, cleaner electricity, and the kind of reliability they expect. Now it’s Humboldt’s turn.”

Manny Araujo can be reached at 707-441-0509.

If you go

What: Solar energy workshop sponsored by the Redwood Coast Energy Authority

When: 8 a.m., Friday, March 24

Where: Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way, Eureka

New Energy Authority Aims to Reduce Rates by 2.7 Percent, by Manny Araujo, Eureka Times-Standard, March 2, 2017.

‘Community Choice Energy’ is Just Two Months Away, Humboldt

RCEA is working to implement the community choice program with a team of consultants selected through an open, competitive solicitation. The consulting team brings needed expertise and experience from working with the successful CCEs already operating elsewhere in the state. RCEA staff have formed our own in-house CCE team and are building local program management capacity. Our eventual goal is to take over many of the responsibilities being led by our consulting team during program launch.</p>

Beginning May 1, Redwood Coast Energy Authority will be the default electricity provider for Humboldt County with the launch of its Community Choice Energy program. The program will provide lower electric rates, increased local control, and the same reliable utility service.

Community Choice Energy (also known as Community Choice Aggregation) is an alternative means of procuring electricity through local governments. Its goal is to offer electricity consumers a choice in their service, with the option to purchase cleaner electricity at competitive prices. The program is under local control, and revenues remain within the county.

Several such programs are operating successfully in Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and in the city of Lancaster in southern California. Mendocino County recently elected to join Sonoma County’s existing program.

Each Community Choice Energy program is designed by its local governing body, comprised of representatives from participating jurisdictions—in this case, the county of Humboldt and cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Blue Lake, Trinidad, and Rio Dell. Ferndale has not elected to participate in the program at this time. Humboldt’s CCE program will support local renewable energy generation and the economic development associated with that, while customers will have greater control over their electricity options.

Because PG&E will be collaborating with RCEA to deliver electricity, maintain lines, manage billing and administer customer programs, energy supply will be as reliable as it’s always been. In fact, the transition to RCEA’s CCE program will be seamless; the only thing customers will notice might be a slight reduction in price.

Energy users will automatically receive service with higher renewable energy content and lower emissions than the electricity they’re currently buying. Those who wish to will be able to upgrade to 100% renewable energy for a small price premium.

“We’re excited to be bringing Community Choice to Humboldt County,” said Matthew Marshall, Executive Director of Redwood Coast Energy Authority. “The successes of other CCEs in California are impressive, offering citizens lower rates, local control, cleaner electricity, and the kind of reliability they expect. Now it’s Humboldt’s turn.” For more information, please contact the Redwood Coast Energy Authority at (800) 931-RCEA or info@redwoodenergy.org, or visit www.RedwoodEnergy.org.

——-

Established in 2003, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority is a local government joint powers agency whose members include the County of Humboldt; the Cities of Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, and Trinidad; and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. The Energy Authority’s purpose is to develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives that reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and advance the use of clean, efficient and renewable resources available in the region.

‘Community Choice Energy’ is Just Two Months Away, Humboldt, by Ryan Burns, Lost Coast Outpost, March 1, 2017.

The Humboldt Power Grid is About to Be Cleaner and Cheaper; Redwood Coast Energy Authority Explains ‘Community Choice’ Energy (includes audio)

This morning I spoke with Matthews Marshall, the Executive Director of Redwood Coast Energy Authority about the new Community Choice Energy program. Through the hard work of the RCEA, Humboldt County will be joining other California counties in generating, managing and choosing the sources of energy that supply the county.

This new program should result in slightly lower bills for most PG&E customers. For those of us who have gone solar, there will be new benefits to over-generation, including rollover credits.

You’ll still be billed through PG&E — it’s just that the choices in generation will be made locally. PG&E will still maintain the grid.

There’s really no downside, but customers can still have the choice to opt out at any time. For those of you who want to get energy from 100 percent renewable sources, you also have that option (at a slightly higher rate). Expect to get more information about this program in your mail within the next month or so.

Matthew Marshall of RCEA on KHUM. Feb. 16, 2017.

(Right-click here to download.)

The Humboldt Power Grid is About to Be Cleaner and Cheaper; Redwood Coast Energy Authority Explains ‘Community Choice’ Energy (includes audio), by Cliff Berkowitz, Lost Coast Outpost, February 16, 2017.

Community Choice Energy Program to Go Forward as Planned

HUMBOLDT, Calif. – Redwood Coast Energy Authority has announced that the Community Choice Energy Program will go forward as planned and begin in May of this year.

In 2002 the County of Humboldt voted in favor of an opt-out program known as Community Choice Energy. This program allows the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) to purchase cleaner energy alternatives from third party companies that will automatically be implemented into the power grid in May of this year.

Richard Engle; senior energy specialist at RCEA, told North Coast News that this program will not result in a higher electric bills for consumers as the prices for renewable energy are often more competitive and most average consumers can expect a 2.7% cut in the monthly bill.

RCEA also says that the new renewable energy is delivered through PG&E lines so their services will not be changed or interrupted at all. PG&E will continue to handle things like meter reading and responding to power outages.

Consumers that do not wish to take part in the program can opt-out though the RCEA and continue to get all their electricity thought PG&E. Currently 30% of all electricity provided by PG&E is renewable as compared to 37% renewable electricity through the Community Choice Energy Program. Conversely people who wish to get 100% of their electricity though renewable sources can opt-in through the RCEA.

Community Choice Energy Program to Go Forward as Planned, by Zachary Lathouris, KRCR, February 3, 2017.

Program Sources Local Renewable Energy

The Redwood Coast Energy Authority is set to begin proposing energy rates Monday, according to executive director Matthew Marshall.

“The bottom line is we’ll have the ability to offer customers an alternative for the generation input of the bill,” Marshall said. “We are focusing on local renewable energy which have lower greenhouse emissions and a slightly lower rate. If we can deliver lower-cost renewable energy and there’s no risk to customers, then why not do it?”

The rates will reflect the Community Choice Aggregation program, which will give Pacific Gas & Electric customers more options for how their energy is generated.

In 2009, AB 117 gave California cities and counties the authority to chose whether or not they would to approve a CCA program. The CCA will serve as the alternative method for local governments to get power to homes and businesses.

The joint power agency includes Humboldt County and its cities with the exception of Ferndale, where the city council has not yet voted to approve the program.

Marshall said even with the approved CCA, people can still chose to opt out of the program.

“Each jurisdiction, whether it be city or county, had to pass an ordinance to approve the program. (Redwood Coast Energy Authority) is designated as the entity to do it on behalf of those jurisdictions,” Marshall said. “Customers will still receive one bill from PG&E. There will just be a switch when it comes to where the power comes from.”

According to Marshall, residents in Marin County were the first to start a CCA program to locally source their energy. Humboldt County has been working to establish local sustainable energy through renewable resources.

“It will have environmental and economic benefits by investing in local generative projects like biomass, solar and eventually wind energy,” Marshall said.

Marshall said PG&E will still be in charge of supplying power to customers through its company owned infrastructure and will continue to make repairs and respond to outages.

PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo said if a local government implements a CCA program that the customers of that CCA are still PG&E customers.

“We will continue to manage the transmission of energy as well as billing, maintenance and outage services. Programs administered by the CCA may differ but that is up to the CCA,” Merlo said.

“The CCA notification process gives two notices during a 60-day period prior to the commencement and two additional notices during a 60-day period after the transition. These notices will inform customers how to opt out of those services.”

Program Sources Local Renewable Energy, by Natalya Estrada, Eureka Times-Standard, January 19, 2017.

Redwood Coast Energy Authority Receives State Approval

Officials with the Redwood Coast Energy Authority on Friday said they were one step closer to launching a new energy program in Humboldt County that aims to shrink electricity bills and supply power from more renewable sources.

Matthew Marshall, executive director at the energy authority, said they received notice late last month the California Public Utilities Commission approved their plan to begin purchasing energy for county residents. The Community Choice Aggregation program is scheduled to go into effect in May.

“We’re excited to have the state’s endorsement of our program,” Marshall said in a statement. “This moves us into the growing set of California counties and cities that are able to offer their citizens lower rates, local control over electric service, and the new jobs that come with a growing local renewable energy sector.”

Residents in Sonoma, Marin, and San Francisco counties have opted into similar programs, according to Marshall. Mendocino is on its way to joining Sonoma’s program.

Marshall said the program is an alternative method for local government to get power to homes and business. The authority — which is part of a joint power agency that includes the county of Humboldt; the cities of Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, and Trinidad; and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — would begin procuring energy for customers in the area while trying to secure better rates.

He said the agency hopes to slightly reduce the rates of energy. Customers will see that in the form of a small reduction in their “generation” fee, which amounts to about half a customer’s total bill, according to the energy authority.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will still take charge in supplying power to the customers through its company-owned infrastructure. It will also make repairs and respond to outages.

Electricity bills also still come from PG&E — they’ll swap their charge for procuring energy with RCEA’s generation fee, according to Marshall.

“Customers won’t get two bills,” he said. “PG&E owns the power lines so when there is a storm — like we’ve seen recently — they’re still thankfully the ones that are the point for that. They do a great job at that.”

Another initiative the energy authority hopes to pursue is sourcing more power from local sources of renewable energy. Marshall said initially they hope to find electricity generated from solar, wind and — maybe eventually — even wave power.

Customers might also have the option of paying a premium to source all the power supplied to them from renewable sources. PG&E offers a similar option, according to its website.

The energy authority plans to notify customers in spring of the changes, Marshall said. Customers still have the option to purchase their energy through PG&E.

He said that will boost competition.

“Hopefully, we are going to be able to get better rates,” he said. “But if its not going to save you any money, you can opt out if you like.”}

Redwood Coast Energy Authority Receives State Approval, by Manny Araujo, Eureka Times-Standard, January 6, 2016.