In science circles, an erg is a unit of energy and work that by some definitions is the equivalent of one house fly performing one “push up.”
By that standard, perhaps millions of ergs have been expended to prepare a report that recommends Woodland join the Valley Clean Energy Alliance to purchase power more cheaply and without going through Pacific Gas & Electric.
If all goes according to plan, the City Council was told this past week, Woodland could team up with the city of Davis and Yolo County within the next several months in preparation of for the February 2018 launch of the combined agency.
Last Tuesday, the council received a report from its Tom Flynn, chairman of the city’s Community Choice Energy Technical Advisory Committee, that made the recommendation after months of research and study.
If implemented, city energy users could see rates drop between 4 percent and 8 percent compared to those of PG&E. For the city of Woodland — which also buys its power from PG&E — the savings could be reinvested back into additional energy conservation programs or used for other purposes.
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 which took no formal action but is expected to do so in early May.
Roberta Childers, the city’s environmental sustainability manager, has indicated that if the city acts quickly it could have one or more seats on the board of directors for the Energy Alliance.
If the council decides to participate in a energy program, the City would need to commit funds toward program administrative costs and energy contracts. The City’s initial start-up investment is estimated to be in the range of $500,000, with the expectation of recovering those expenses over time through the customers’ payments for electricity. General Fund reserves represent the most likely funding source.
Under a Community Choice system local governments can buy develop power on behalf of their public facilities, residents, and businesses. The aims are to increase local choice in energy supply and provide electricity with high renewable energy content at electric rates that are competitive with those of the incumbent investor-owned utility, such as PG&E.
While a Community Choice system determines the sources of its power supply, sets customer rates, and develops programs and incentives, the utility continues to deliver the energy, maintain infrastructure, read meters, and bill the customers. Individual customers would have the ability to “opt out” of the program.
Participation has the potential to provide substantial economic benefits through the provision of favorable electricity rates and incentive programs tailored to local needs and could accelerate progress toward the Woodland’s Climate Action Plan targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
If the Council agrees joining the Energy Alliance it would need to complete a number of administrative steps by July 2017. Specifically, by May the city would need to notify Davis and Yolo County of its desire to be on the agency so those groups could grant approval.
Woodland Moving Ahead to Team up with ‘Energy Alliance’, by Jim Smith, Woodland Daily Democrat, April 23, 2017.