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Sonoma appears poised to join Sonoma Clean Power

Sonoma's mayor appears to have overcome his reservations about Sonoma Clean Power, the fledgling public agency, possibly paving the way for the city to become the fifth in the county to join the program.

Mayor Ken Brown, who represents the swing vote on the City Council, said Thursday that he is "leaning closer to supporting" Sonoma's inclusion in the power plan. The council has scheduled a final vote for Monday.

The addition of Sonoma to the power authority would lend political momentum to the venture and as many as 7,830 customers currently served by PG&E in the city.

Sonoma's vote is the last in a recent series of back-to-back decisions on the part of four cities to consider joining the new power program, which county officials tout as a greener option than what PG&E currently offers and another energy choice for residents.

During a public hearing June 17 in Sonoma, Brown tied his final decision on the city joining the power authority to whether Sonoma County Conversation Action endorsed the plan and the outcome of Santa Rosa's negotiations with the county, mainly over issues of governance and finances.

Two council members, Steve Barbose and Tom Rouse, supported Sonoma joining the power authority, while Councilman David Cook did not. Councilwoman Laurie Gallian recused herself from the debate because her husband is employed by PG&E.

Following that meeting, Brown participated in the selection of Geof Syphers as interim CEO of Sonoma Clean Power. Brown said Syphers "clearly" was his choice for the role.

"I can tell you quite clearly that since Geof Syphers was empowered to be the interim executive director, things have changed, and I would use the word 'dramatically,'" Brown said.

Brown, who earlier expressed concerns about agency officials not doing enough outreach, said he was pleased to see representatives of the power program at a farmers market in Sonoma this week.

"It's far more on our citizens' radar," he said.

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