Sebastopol City Council schedules vote on public power agency

Sebastopol's green-minded City Council will consider joining the Sonoma County Clean Power Authority in two weeks, leaving room to make the latest deadline for participation in a plan aimed at providing communities with an alternative to PG&E.

Three council members voted late Tuesday night to put the local power agency's proposal on the July 2 agenda.

Sonoma Clean Power is asking eight cities to join a joint powers authority that could supplant PG&E as the area's chief energy source, offering the prospect of competitive rates and a greener power portfolio.

So far only the Board of Supervisors, representing the county's unincorporated area, and Windsor's Town Council have voted to join the agency. Together, they account for about 38 percent of electricity used in Sonoma County.

Sebastopol Mayor Michael Kyes, whose city accounts for 1.7 percent of the county's electricity usage, said Wednesday that the alternative power concept is appealing and that many city residents "will go for any other option."

"We've had some rocky interactions with PG&E over the past year," he said, referring to a prolonged dispute over the installation of SmartMeters.

But key details — the price and cleanness of the power, as well as governance of the agency — remain uncertain, Kyes said.

The mayor said his preference was to wait to see what Santa Rosa does on July 9, which is now the deadline for cities to join Sonoma Clean Power.

Vice Mayor Robert Jacob and council members Sarah Gurney and Patrick Slayter voted to consider the matter July 2. Councilman John Eder joined Kyes in opposing the motion.

Slayter said Wednesday he is leaning toward enrollment in the power plan because it seems to be "a little bit more aggressive" about obtaining power from renewable resources.

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