Placer County to Become Energy Provider? Auburn City Council Hears Presentation on Proposal

Should Auburn buy energy from Placer County?

That’s the question Auburn City Council members may face in the coming months, after county Treasurer-Tax Collector Jenine Windeshausen gave an initial presentation to council members Monday.

She said the measure would allow counties and cities to use forest fuel load, waste streams, hydroelectric power and energy efficiency efforts to save residents money.

“The question was posed, how do we harness this for our citizenry and invest in our local resources back into our local community. What we realized is the best way to provide a foundation for that is for a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program,” she said.

The move could save residents 5 percent on their electric rates, but not PG&E’s distribution fees, saving rate payers $6.5 million a year, Windeshausen said. Placer County would also receive $3 million a year for energy efficiency from fees that currently go to PG&E.

CCAs were allowed through AB 117, which enabled cities and counties to combine electrical loads and purchase energy and electricity to serve that energy load, collaborating between cities and PG&E.

The utility would continue owning and operating its delivery and billing systems, but the county would provide the local resources in its stead. The county treasury would provide financing and waste energy and other facilities could be made to generate electricity.

A joint-powers authority has been made called the Sierra Valley Energy Authority, which already includes Colfax. It will be up to council members to decide whether to join when the matter comes back to the council.

Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby said it sounded good, but was concerned about more government bureaucracy, which Mayor Matt Spokely agreed with. He asked how PG&E feels, and Steve Nichols, a former 30-year employee who spoke for the agency, said it was good for the consumers and could help job growth. He said PG&E was in favor of the partnership.

A long discussion took place over whether rates would go down, depending on energy use.

Placer County to Become Energy Provider? Auburn City Council Hears Presentation on Proposal, by Michael Mott, Auburn Journal, April 12, 2017.

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