Community Choice Energy Program Comes to Humboldt County

People who live in Humboldt County now have a choice when it comes to their electricity supplier.

Roger Engel is the director of power resources for the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), a non-profit with a board made up of government officials from cities in Humboldt as well as the county board of supervisors.

“This year we have introduced a new program that’s called Community Choice Energy,” Engel said.  “It’s an alternative way of providing electricity service, so instead of PG&E being the only choice you have for electricity, you can now get your electricity through us.”

The program is “opt-out,” which means everyone within the RCEA region will automatically be switched to the new electricity provider, unless they request otherwise.

“It does automatically switch over if you don’t choose otherwise and that’s not something we made up,” Engel said. “That’s the state of California that set up these community choice energy programs so there is an opt-out program everywhere they operate.”

While state legislation created community choice energy programs, Engel said they are adopted on a smaller level. In this case, board members at the RCEA, which included representation from each city in California, decided what sources they wanted to get energy from.

“We provide local control because the governance of our program is through local governments. Here there’s a board that meets once a month and the public can and does show up at these meetings to express their opinions about where we should be getting our energy and how much it should cost,” Engel said.

The RCEA website says their electricity service is cheaper and cleaner than PG&E’s. However, PG&E will still be the main supplier of gas in the county. Deanna Contreras, a representative from PG&E said they will still have a big role in Humboldt County.

“PG&E has been working closely with the Redwood Coast Energy Authority,” Contreras said. “We are partners because PG&E will still be responsible for the transmission. It’s still our power lines, still our power polls.”

And Contreras said PG&E welcomes the alternate energy source.

“It allows choice and PG&E supports choice for its customers,” Contreras said.

Humboldt County residents that have PG&E as their energy provider will still receive one bill a month from PG&E, but the electricity portion will be replaced with the RCEA service.

Community Choice Energy Program Comes to Humboldt County, by Alex Hasenstab, KRCR, June 28, 2017.

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