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OPINION: Monterey Bay Community Power is the right choice for Hollister

Hollister City Council should vote "yes" on joining the Monterey Bay Community Power joint powers authority

Like the vast majority of Californians, especially those on the Central Coast, I view the threat to our planet from climate change as an over-arching, existential issue. That’s why I strongly support the proposal currently before the Hollister City Council for Hollister to band together with all of the jurisdictions in San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties as the Monterey Bay Community Power Joint Power Authority.

This nonprofit government entity will replace PG&E as the purchaser of wholesale electrical power for the Central Coast, with a focus on accelerating the amount of electricity provided from renewable sources. PG&E will continue to be responsible for delivery of power to homes and businesses through their existing infrastructure.

The joint powers authority has already been tentatively approved by all three counties and almost all of the cities in the region, including San Juan Bautista. Hollister and Sand City are the only ones remaining who haven’t yet signed on. At its Jan. 9 meeting, the Hollister City Council was presented with an in-depth presentation by the professionals who for the last three years have been studying the technical feasibility of carrying out this change in how electricity is purchased. Council members and the Mayor raised a number of questions about how the joint powers authority is structured and what the potential financial downside might be for the city.

I applaud the Council on their due diligence in raising these issues. The Monterey Bay Community Power staff responded in detail to the technical and financial questions raised by the Council. They also pointed Council members and the public to the Monterey Bay Community Power web page (montereybaycca.org), which includes hundreds of pages of studies with rigorous analysis of the technical, financial and legal issues raised by this proposal. The web page also includes executive summaries that make the conclusions all of these studies readily accessible. After reviewing this material, I believe that the Council will find that their concerns have been thoroughly addressed, and that joining this endeavor is the right move for Hollister and will not subject the city to any undue risks.

The State of California has stepped up on the issue of climate change with an aggressive plan to roll back the amount of carbon we are contributing to the Earth’s atmosphere. We’re showing the world that these changes can be made while maintaining one of the most robust economies on the planet. The formation of community choice energy joint powers agencies all around the state, as authorized by the legislature, is part of this plan.

The best path forward is clear. Do we want to continue with PG&E purchasing our electricity for us, or do we want to set up a mission-driven, elected body to buy that power with the goal of using as much renewable energy as possible? Do we want the revenue generated from that endeavor to go to PG&E’s shareholders, or do we want it to be plowed back into renewable energy projects in our communities, creating local jobs?

The Council said at the Jan. 9 hearing that they would like to hear from their constituents on this issue. Call or email them, and come speak at the hearing on Monday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. Remind them that residents of Hollister and San Benito County are strongly in favor of taking action to aggressively address climate change.

— Seth Capron, resident of San Benito County since 1970

Comments

Very interesting program this week on NOVA titled,  "Search for the Super Battery".  It goes into the present difficulties of storing renewable energy an essential step in making it available around the clock.  How much are we behind?

"In 2010 Bill Gates noted that all the batteries on earth could store less than 10 minutes of the world's electricity production.", according to the program.

It also labeled the electrical transmission system (the grid) the largest and most complex machine ever built.

Marty Richman

John Freeman's picture

Hi Marty,

I also saw that program and thought it was very informative. I learned that there lots of chemists and Chemical Engineers working on large scale batteries and fly-wheels to store electrical energy, so that when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing electrical power can be provided by non fossil fuel sources.  Another example of renewable energy sources creating jobs. The Monterey Bay Community Power organization can provide a different model than PG&E for paying people for the energy that they generate from PV panels. So possibly more energy will be generated.  The earth will love you for it (less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere), plus you will save on your electrical power bill.  A winning combination.

 

John, I am supporting the option, but cautiously.  I believe that real competition is usually good for the consumer ASSUMING an adequate supply is available,

As you know, PG&E is also under mandate to boost the share of renewable energy it delivers.  IF everyone is chasing a limited supply of renewable energy the cost will go up (supply and demand).  Therefore, we have to make sure we generate enough renewable energy - and that, unfortunately, has taken a long and expensive road. I support energy independence as essential to national security.

Since there are no guarantees and it is an "opt-out" system, I also believe that a balanced consumer education program is essential.  I am not going to criticize anyone who wants to spend extra to get 100 percent renewables, it's their decision, but every one needs to understand their options.

It's my view that we should not count on millions in local reinvestment, if it comes it's just the cherry on top.

Marty Richman

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