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Supes discuss proposed Monterey Bay Community Power deal

San Benito County Board of Supervisors met June 9 to discuss new energy option

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting June 9 to discuss the formation of Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), a regional project is designed to provide a green electricity alternative to businesses and residents in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. 

Advocates say the proposed community choice energy (CCE) project allows communities to choose a clean energy source at a competitive cost.

Working in collaboration with PG&E, “residents would experience little change in how power is being delivered and paid for, but it does change where the power is coming from,” said Shawn Marshall, executive director of LEAN Energy US.

The CCE is an “opt-out” program in which MBCP would become the default electric service provider for customers. Customers would automatically be enrolled in the program at specific times but if they wish to stay with PG&E they could do so. 

The project enables local governments to procure and/or develop power on behalf of facilities, residents and businesses. The company says it is also responsive to environmental goals, helps create jobs, supports revenue and offers customers a choice. 

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce McPherson said, “We can have a community power source in our three counties.”

“It’ll be the only tri-county collaboration and the only one of this size in the state,” he added. “I think it’ll be very well received.”

Supervisor Margie Barrios asked the presenters, “how do you guarantee local jobs?”

 Mark Landman, a board member of Sonoma Clean Power, said, “It’s largely your decision. You decide where it is best to invest it.”

Landman also serves as a Cotati city councilman, which has the program in place. 

Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz voiced his concerns over the proposed CCE. He said he felt as though San Benito County would only be used for its customers and the land, especially since San Benito is smaller than Monterey and Santa Cruz. “I’m reluctant to agree because we have other partnerships,” he said. 

According to the feasibility study, the CCE model helps to ensure local economic growth and sustainability because money from rates paid by local customers stays local helping fund renewable energy projects, create jobs and stimulate the economy. 

“It's important to note that we have come to this point without spending a dime of the general fund,” said McPherson. “Through fundraising and donations from the Santa Cruz Community Foundation we were able to fund the feasibility study of the project."

County supervisors took no action after saying more research would be required on the issue. Richard Stedman, vice chair of the Project Development Advisory Committee, recommended that the board take action by Oct. 31 so the MBCP would be ready to launch by 2017.

For more information visit: www.mbcommunitypower.org

The next Board of Supervisors' meeting will take place Monday, June 13 at 6 p.m. at Hollister City Hall.

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Laura Romero is an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assists with press outreach, event coordination, research and social media planning. Her clients include Interior Designer Will Wick, Brimmoncourt, California Caviar Company and Superga. She graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in public relations. Laura serves as a general assignment reporter for BenitoLink, with beats including schools and San Juan Bautista. She lives in Hollister.

Comments

As with most deals of this type there are potential benefits and handicaps, it is vitally important that the board put together a clear, consumer oriented, explanation of the potential risks and rewards based on several user profiles.

Story: “residents would experience little change in how power is being delivered and paid for, but it does change where the power is coming from,” said Shawn Marshall, executive director of LEAN Energy US.

What is "little change?"  What happens if the generating plants turn out not to be as efficient as planned or end up with a shorter life expectancy?

All I see are a host of platitudes and generalities and I've heard them all before and we ended up with the white elephant of a small solar generating operation whose power costs far exceeded PG&E. 

Bring on the details INCLUDING the risks.  If you have not done a risk - cost analysis why are you out promoting this?

Marty Richman

 

 

 

 

Marty, CCE formation is not without risk and that is why the Technical Study includes a comprehensive risk analysis, including quantitative assessment of risks, and outlines mitigation measures associated with the identified risks. The full Technical Study and other resources can be reviewed at mbcommunitypower/meetingsresources. In practice, the three operating CCE programs in the state have successfully implemented risk management strategies and changes experienced so far by customers have included similar or lower rates and access to cleaner energy.

Mr.Maxfield, hopefully this comment does not sound like bagging, but I'm not worried about MY ability to understand the risks and make a personal decision.  However, based on our local history I'm very worried about our small county government, limited staff and many of our under-educated, low income, non-English speaking residents to understand, manage and mitigate the risks.

My life experience is you cannot get something for nothing and I'm am not risk adverse when the risk-reward equation is heavily in my favor.

By FORCING the county leaders and staff to explain the risks in detail to the residents, I will be forcing them to actually read and understand the quantitative assessment of risks and the same for the risk management strategies.  If we do not do that those critical steps will not get done and I'm willing to bet that as of today neither a majority of the Supervisors nor technical staff have read and/or evaluated those technical studies and could not explain the risks or mitigation strategies if I asked them.

We are a small county with limited financial resources (the only coastal county with no coast), we can't "take a punch" like the big, wealthier, counties and we have a glass jaw, financially, and we've been had before on solar based on highly inflated energy price forecasts and other rosy scenarios. 

As you probably know we are perfectly located for some industrial solar but the so-called "environmentalists" and local no-growth residents have been suing the heck out of any attempt to do something big; if you think they will stop just to make clean energy or to save the lives of our military protecting our oil sources worldwide, you are wrong.  So you cannot count on us for production.

While I appreciate you words, I'd much rather see some action - a demonstration showing that the decision makers and technical personnel really understand the risks by explaining them to the residents in simple language.

Marty Richman

 

 

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