Woodland’s Community Choice Panel to Get New Members

Unlike the intent of its mission — which is to limit the use of conventional power sources — Woodland’s Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee is growing by expanding its membership.

There won’t be any economic jolt to the city by the action, which earlier anticipated the size of the group might have to get bigger to accommodate a variety of individual backgrounds and expertise.

In fact, the more research done could lead to cheaper electric rates for Woodland utility customers.

Community Choice Energy enables local governments to buy or 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 at least 50 percent renewable energy content at electric rates that are competitive with those of an investor-owned utility, such as PG&E.

Davis and Yolo County have already formed a Joint Powers Agency to jointly develop a local Community Choice program under the name Valley Clean Energy Alliance, with the aim of beginning operations in 2017.

City staff have noted previously that Davis and Yolo County have encouraged Woodland to join the VCEA, and a City Council sub-committee — consisting of Skip Davies and Angel Barajas — was designated earlier this year to evaluate possible participation.

Recognizing that the evaluation can be accelerated and enhanced with the assistance of a community-based ad hoc advisory committee, the City Council on Nov. 1 approved the formation of such a committee.

On Nov. 15, the council formally establishing the committee purpose, membership, and operation and appointed six community members to serve on the committee.

However, while adopting the resolution, Council members also suggested increasing the maximum size of the committee as stated in the resolution and expanding the membership to include several representatives of local industries and other larger power users.

Named to the panel on Nov. 15 were Mark Aulman, Kevin Cowan, Tom Flynn, Phil Hogan, Bill Marcus, and Christine Shewmaker. Bill Marcus subsequently asked to be removed due to conflict of interest.

Staff is now recommending that the Council increase the membership to 11.

Recommended and approved were:

•Maria Armstrong: Superintendent of the Woodland Joint Unified School District.

•Jim Gillette: Finance director of Yolo County Housing and a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

•Mark James: Dignity Health director of facilities.

•Elisabeth Robbins: Retired family therapist, community participant on City Council Sustainability Committee.

•Ralph Solorio: Facility manager of the Rite Aid Distribution Center.

•Erick Watkins: Pacific Coast Producers, of its Environmental Health and Safety division.

Woodland council members in the past have expressed interest in joining the local Energy Alliance, but have urged a go-slow approach to find out how much it would cost the city versus how much money would be saved. It has been suggested by city staff that power bills could be lowered between 4 percent and 8 percent should the city join the program.

However, no one yet knows for sure.

“Participation in a CCE program has the potential to provide substantial economic benefits through the provision of favorable electricity rates and incentive programs tailored to local needs,” according to the Roberta Childers, the city’s environmental sustainability manager. “All IOU customers are automatically enrolled in a CCE program but any may opt out of the program at any time. Several CCE programs are already established in California. Additional background information on CCE programs is provided in staff reports presented at the September 20, 2016 and November 1, 2016 City Council meetings.”

Previously, no council member had any problems with expanding the panel’s membership, although then vice-mayor Barajas said he wanted to see more women on the group in the interests of diversity.

Woodland’s Community Choice Panel to Get New Members, by Jim Smith, Woodland Daily Democrat, December 21, 2016.

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