More Power Applied to Community Choice Energy Program

Woodland is stepping up its effort toward providing cheaper power for the people.

Now under the chairmanship of Tom Flynn, the city’s Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee is working to finish a report with recommendations that will most likely lead to linking with an agency under development by Yolo County and the city of Davis.

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Woodland’s Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee Chairman Tom Flynn updated the City Council Tuesday night on progress made toward joining a local energy cooperative between Yolo County and the city of Davis. Jim Smith — Daily Democrat

If implemented over the next year, city energy users could see rates drop between 4 percent and 8 percent compared to those of PG&E.

Flynn, a storage and distributed energy resource policy manager for the state’s Independent System Operator with nearly 30 years of experience in California electricity policy, updated the council Tuesday on progress made toward linking up with the Valley Clean Energy Alliance, the county-Davis consortium.

No action was required of the council, which has previously expressed a willingness to consider joining the Energy Alliance, as long as it had sufficient information before making a final commitment.

In his briefing, Flynn said the concept behind “community choice energy” is that a local entity procures and supplies the power which is then delivered by PG&E.

Flynn said “CCEs provide more competitive rates and allow communities the opportunity to have more local control over energy supply and their energy future.” For example, that could mean buying more solar power than hydroelectric power, thereby lessening the city’s overall carbon footprint.

This, Flynn implied allows cities such as Woodland to help meet conservation goals such as has been developed for Woodland’s 2035 General Plan under its Climate Action Plan, which calls for increasing conservation measures.

Further, said Flynn, any surplus revenues that originate from conservation can be reinvested in the community rather than lost to PG&E.

“With or without Woodland, Community Choice Energy is growing by leaps and bounds throughout California,” he told the council, citing operations that exist — or will soon exist — in Marin County and elsewhere.

Concerning Valley Clean Energy Alliance, Flynn said the group is planning a 2018 launch and has welcomed Woodland’s inclusion. But that puts a strain on the city to get the paperwork in place to meet an April 18 deadline for a presentation to the council in hopes it can render a decision by the end of June.

Woodland would need to submit a final implementation plan by August to link up with the Energy Alliance.

At present, Flynn said the choices narrow down to three:

•Retain the status quo with no change in how Woodlanders receive their power.

•Join the Valley Energy Alliance and be included in its February 2018 launch.

•Join the Valley Energy Alliance after its February 2018 launch.

The only other option looked at was to join a similar cooperative based elsewhere such as Marin County. However, that idea was rejected because it was felt those groups were too geographically distant.

The city created the ad hoc advisory committee in November 2016. Among its 14 members are Woodland Mayor Angel Barajas and Councilman Skip Davies. However, acting Tuesday night, Davies stepped down from the panel and was replaced by Councilman Tom Stallard, who has previously pushed for more sustainable energy sources within the city.

Stallard has put a number of solar panels on property he owns in downtown Woodland and as the former mayor pushed for creating the Woodland Tree Campaign as a way of increasing the city’s urban forest to provide shade and cut back on energy use.

More Power Applied to Community Choice Energy Program, by Jim Smith, Woodland Daily Democrat, March 22, 2017.

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