Should Mendocino County Take Control of Its Energy and Power? (Part 1)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Local control far fetched?  Marin County’s fledgling public power agency, the Marin Energy Authority, has set its rates and has picked a company to buy electricity wholesale for many of the county’s residents. They just fired PG&E or, as any large corporation would say, downsized them.

Of course this drives PG&E up a telephone pole in fury, because these large corporate monopolies don’t like competition. A free market is just a bit much for them, somewhat similar to health insurance companies. They just don’t like the competition.

Marin could start selling power to its first customers by May. If that happens, Marin County would become California’s first county to adopt a new form of public power called community choice aggregation using a law written in the wake of the state’s energy crisis. Under community choice aggregation (CCA), cities and counties can buy electricity for their residents, while traditional utilities continue to own and operate the power grid.

Marin County also wants to control – and increase – the amount of renewable power they use. The Marin Energy Authority – consisting of the county and most of its cities – has adopted a contract with Shell Energy North America to secure electricity from sources other than PG&E. The initial rates will match PG&E with the long range goal being to lower costs to customers.

Here is what PG&E is busy doing about this: Marin Energy Authority officials say PG&E has threatened not to deliver electricity to the authority over PG&E’s power lines – an act the authority considers illegal. The utility has also threatened to sue the authority, demanding that it perform a full environmental impact report before starting operations.

Stay tuned.