City Council Votes to Join Energy Authority

Lincoln City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to join the Sierra Valley Energy Authority, a Joint Powers Agency (JPA) that might provide electricity at lower rates than PG&E.

Councilmen Gabriel Hydrick and Stan Nader voted against joining the Sierra Valley Energy Authority.

According to a report by Lincoln Economic Development manager Shawn Tillman, legislation passed in 2002 authorizes Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs to operate in California. The legislation allows cities, counties and Joint Powers Agencies to combine the electricity demand in its jurisdiction and obtain or generate power to meet those needs. The Community Choice Aggregation would be able to set rates, determine rebates and incentives and provide other energy-related programs.

PG&E would continue to provide transmission, distribution, maintenance and repair, and billing services.

Hydrick said he voted against joining the Sierra Valley Energy Authority because terrible consequences are likely when government interferes with the marketplace.

“If you think the water rate is convoluted, wait until you see this,” Hydrick said. “The city manager has been burned a couple of times and he’s set up to be burned.”

Nader said he would have liked more time to study the proposal.

“I understand that Placer County has electrical resources,” Nader said. “I’m troubled about government getting more and more into things private business does. I am uncomfortable seeing more and more government-run programs that should be done by private industry.”

According to Tillman’s report, the main benefits from joining the Joint Powers Agency are allowing consumers a choice of energy providers; allowing local control of rates and programs; the opportunity to develop local energy resources and job creation.

Lincoln Mayor Peter Gilbert said he was comfortable joining because he has confidence in the other cities participating in the Sierra Valley Energy Authority JPA. Gilbert said every city in Placer County has joined but Roseville, which has its own utility district.

“This thing has much more upside than downside,” Gilbert said. “Each individual user can opt in or out.”

Councilman Paul Joiner said joining would give Lincoln residents a choice. If the council had voted against joining, then Lincoln residents would not have had a choice to switch from PG&E to Sierra Valley Energy Authority.

“I’d rather be a part of this and retain some degree of control and give residents a choice,” Joiner said. “The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) already controls PG&E; there is no free market.”

Councilman Dan Karleskint said estimated savings to residential electricity customers, under the Sierra Valley Energy Authority, would likely be closer to one percent or one-and-one-half percent than the reported five percent.

The City Council will appoint a councilman to the Joint Powers Agency’s board at the council’s July 6 workshop.

City Council Votes to Join Energy Authority, by Steve Archer, Lincoln News Messenger, Jun 29, 2017.

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