For the first time, our community will get the full value of our energy payments, too. Instead of paying dividends to shareholders, this income will support the operation of energy-efficiency programs and incentives for local renewable energy projects.

To give a sense of the potential, a similar program in Marin County brought in $3.6 million of net income at the end of its third year. Sonoma County is about 2? times the size of Marin, so it is fair to expect that income from Sonoma Clean Power will be proportionately greater. This net income will be used to stabilize rates and support local renewable-energy and energy-efficiency programs, thus aiding our county's solar industry, efficiency retrofit contractors and anyone who wants to cut their power bill.

Sonoma Clean Power's budget is also totally separate from other government budgets. The program would be funded entirely with revenues from energy sales. No tax money would be diverted from other important public programs, and its revenues cannot be diverted to other uses, so Sonoma Clean Power customers will never wind up closing gaps in city or county budgets.

The bottom line: Sonoma Clean Power will deliver greener power at a competitive price while creating a new permanent source of income to run local programs. Let's get it started.

Efren Carrillo is a Sonoma County supervisor, and Dick Dowd is a member of the Santa Rosa Board of Public Utilities. Both are active members in the Sonoma Clean Power Steering Committee.