As many as 30,000 Mendocino County households are slated to automatically switch electricity providers in June, when Sonoma Clean Power becomes their default provider.
Sonoma Clean Power promises to provide greener electric power to customers than Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for about 1 percent less. Sonoma Clean Power’s basic energy supply is 36 percent renewable compared with PG&E’s North Bay and North Coast California production supply, which is 33 percent renewable, according to the two agencies. Renewable energy includes solar, wind, steam power, biomass and small hydroelectric plants.
People who want to totally commit to renewable energy and are willing to pay extra for it can sign up for Sonoma Clean Power’s EverGreen program, which offers 100 percent local, renewable energy.
Unless electric utility customers in the county and three of its cities — Fort Bragg, Willits and Point Arena — contact Sonoma Clean Power and opt out of the new service, they automatically will be enrolled. Ukiah electric customers are not included because the city has its own municipal electric utility.
Current PG&E customers will continue to be billed through the company, which also will continue to provide and repair electric utility infrastructure.
The new program is a good deal for Mendocino County residents, said Supervisor Dan Hamburg, a member of the Sonoma Clean Power board.
“I think they will have more say over the kind of energy they use,” he said. And the price of that energy could decrease further if a challenge to the fees PG&E is allowed to collect in compensation for the loss of customers is successful, Hamburg said.
Sonoma Clean Power is part of a movement nationally toward local control of utilities through what is called “community choice aggregation” agencies. Such agencies were authorized by state law in 2002. Marin County launched the first of its kind in California in 2008.
There currently are eight agencies operating in California, said Sonoma Clean Power spokeswoman Kate Kelly.
Sonoma Clean Power will be making several community presentations throughout the county beginning Wednesday at the Point Arena library from 6 to 8 p.m.
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You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 707-462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MendoReporter.