Petaluma leaders hear pitch for public power agency

Petaluma's city leaders Monday night dug into the structure and risks of the planned Sonoma Clean Power Authority, an alternative to utility giant PG&E promised to bring a greener product to county residents.

Council members offered no glimpse at whether they're likely to vote to join Windsor and unincorporated areas of Sonoma County in taking part in the power authority during two hours of presentation, discussion and comments at City Hall before an overflowing audience.

"This is a good discussion, and this is how people's questions are going to get answers," Mayor David Glass said. "In the last couple of weeks we've been bombarded with questions and concerns."

Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, the lone member of the board to vote against launching the power authority in April when it was approved, started Monday's discussion by emphasizing that he is a proponent of local, cleaner power and simply wants more time to vet questions.

"I want to know what I'm buying, there are questions I felt the public needed answered; I want to make sure Sonoma clean power will work as intended," Rabbitt said.

Petaluma was the fifth city to hear the county's public power pitch. Cloverdale was the first city to decline to take part, at least initially, and Windsor on Wednesday became the first to sign up. Sebastopol and Rohnert Park took no action.

Santa Rosa will consider the program today, with Cotati set to consider the matter on Wednesday and Sonoma on June 3.

Council members dug into questions about how the project will be financed and presenters explained lines of credit and the level of risk.

A long line of people spoke to the board, including environmentalists and residents, most in favor of the project. Customers will have the option to opt out and stick with PG&E.

Glass asked the presenters to explain the worst-case-scenarios and what they would mean for both customers and the cities.

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