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.