Move Over PG&E? Community choice aggregation could be electrical balancing act

By J.A. Savage, The North Coast Journal

Humboldt County and the city of Arcata now have proposals from two private companies that are offering to whisk the agencies and their thousands of ratepayers away from PG&E. If either is hired, it would be the first community choice aggregation program in the state to hand the reins to a private company. The only municipalities in the state operating community choice — Marin County and most of Sonoma County — have done so through their own governments.

Arcata and Humboldt County are considering a more hands-off method through for-profit companies. Neither company with proposals for the governmental agencies has operated a program for non-PG&E alternatives before. Although Arcata could proceed on its own, it’s possible for the entire county to switch away from PG&E. Unlike most California municipalities, Humboldt already has a joint powers agreement among governments through the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, which has been in preliminary discussions to implement community choice aggregation for more than a year.

State laws governing electricity production say community choice aggregation has to be a mix of energy sources, and consumers have a say in what energy sources are included in their power mix. While you could save a few cents on your monthly bill with community choice, more important, say proponents, is that — unlike your dealings with PG&E —your elected representatives could increase or decrease how much renewable and Humboldt-grown electricity is in the mix. Local governments could require more biomass fuel for electricity from Humboldt’s forests, or require building new solar installations. By playing with the mix, consumers/voters can determine the cost of their electricity, to a certain extent.

Read full article in the North Coast Journal

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