The final Humboldt County holdout in the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s community choice energy voted to join the program.
The Ferndale City Council voted 4-1 to get on board with Mayor Don Hindley dissenting.
Ferndale was the only city not already on board with RCEA’s plan to supply Humboldt County with more local electricity at a lower cost than Pacific Gas and Electric Company rate.
“It’s nice to have it be consistent across the county,” RCEA Executive Director Matthew Marshall said after the decision was made.
The plan went online for all the cities and unincorporated county communities this month but will be rolled out in October for Ferndale.
All councilmen were present for the meeting. Hindley did not give any reasons as to why he voted against the plans on Wednesday but during past meetings he expressed concern that customers are automatically opted into the program and must choose to opt out.
“I should have received four notices by now but I’ve only received one,” Hindley said of his two electrical billing addresses in the unincorporated county.
The one he did receive he said looked like “junk mail” and he is concerned that Ferndale residents may not be properly notified and educated on the program before it goes into effect. Hindley said including information on the program with current power bills may be better to reach everyone.
“I think that would be much more effective,” he said.
“The risk there is because PG&E can choose to bump it,” Marshall said.
He added that given the length of time before the program rolls out in Ferndale, RCEA should be able to organize this. But if PG&E would rather mail something out along with the bill they have priority over what RCEA wants to send along with the bill.
Councilman Michael Sweeney said if the city and RCEA work together to inform Ferndale residents, the residents would then be more responsive and educated.
“They’re more likely to say, ‘Okay I know what’s coming,’ ” he said.
After the meeting, Marshall said the program could bolster the local community with jobs because more money would go to local power generation. According to RCEA, bill savings should amount to a few dollars every month per household but overall that can total in the millions.
“We are on track for around 1 to 2 million in countywide savings,” he said.
Marshall added that as of Monday only 3 percent of customers have opted out of the program.
“So far, the rollout’s going well,” he said.
The next regular Ferndale City Council meeting is scheduled for June 21 at 7 p.m. in the Ferndale city hall council chambers at 834 Main St. More city information and meeting agenda packets are available at ci.ferndale.ca.us.
Ferndale Joins CCA, by Hunter Cresswell, Eureka Times-Standard, May 17, 2017.