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Sonoma Clean Power lays out green energy goal

Officials overseeing Sonoma County's startup public power agency on Thursday unveiled terms of a proposed power supply contract they contend would make their venture immediately greener than PG&E.

The new information came as the agency enters a critical period leading up to key business decisions next month.

Two advisory committees that will provide input on that work were sworn in Tuesday and told to keep their schedules free.

"Congratulations, or some would say condolences, because you have some serious work ahead of you," said county Supervisor Susan Gorin, board chairwoman of Sonoma Clean Power.

The setting of green power targets came in a preliminary sketch of the agency's work on two contracts central to the venture's launch. The aim is to begin serving the first wave of customers, mostly commercial accounts, by May.

For the initial power supply deal, they revealed terms dictating that 70 percent of the electricity purchased by the agency must come from carbon-free sources.

By comparison, PG&E's carbon-free power amounts to 51 percent of its supply, according to the utility's power content label, which is filed with the state and visible on customer bills.

Geof Syphers, interim CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, touted that difference, calling the agency's emission-free focus "meaningfully larger" for the initial three-year contract period.

The public power venture has been billed as a more environmentally conscious, competitively priced alternative to PG&E, but it has yet to convince many skeptics, partly because to date they've been unable to make comparisons on which provider would have a cleaner overall supply.

Public power officials are keenly aware of the need to convince prospective customers and clearly are making a bid for the greener mantle.


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