Cotati City Council warms to county power agency

Sonoma County officials appear close to enlisting another city into the fold of its clean power agency — albeit one of the smaller ones.

The Cotati City Council on Wednesday expressed some concerns about voting procedures on the proposed agency board, issues that county officials promised to address.

But overall, council members voiced support for an enterprise meant to displace PG&E as the county's chief source of electricity and offer a greener energy portfolio, with sources including solar, wind, geothermal and small hydroelectric projects.

The city's concerns centered primarily on language in the joint powers agreement that will govern operations of the county power program. That language allows the agreement it to be amended by a two-thirds vote with those votes possibly coming on a weighted basis, with member agencies' votes based on electrical use. That, said Mayor Mark Landman, means Santa Rosa and the county alone could make decisions that would impact the smaller cities without their concurrence.

"We're hopeful they'll be able to make some adjustments to that," Landman said Thursday. "I wouldn't call it a sticking point, but let's just say it's very important to the city and to all the small cities in this county."

Cotati has the smallest share of the county's PG&E energy usage at 1.3 percent, except for Healdsburg, which because it runs its own municipal energy agency has just 250 PG&E meters.

The Cotati council asked that the issue — and perhaps an ordinance to join the agency — be brought back for consideration June 26, just before the June 30 deadline the county has set for cities if they want to participate in the rollout of the power system on Jan. 1.

The county intends, at a minimum, to launch the agency for residents and business customers outside of the nine cities. So far, only Windsor has agreed to join for the launch of the agency, although other cities can join later.

Electrical customers will be able to opt out of the county program and stay with PG&E.

Cotati residents have indicated that they want both options on the table, Landman said. "The clear thing we heard from the community is they wanted the ability to be able to choose for themselves," he said.

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