Utilities attacking choice — again

Mark Landman and Natasha Granoff, Op-Ed, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

In 2002, the California Legislature passed a law enabling cities and counties to establish Community Choice Aggregation programs such as Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy. PG&E spent millions of dollars trying to defeat Community Choice by way of Proposition 16 in 2010. But the voters said a resounding no.

Customers of these new programs are starting to reap benefits that go beyond the vision legislators had in 2002. At least 12 more California communities are in varying stages of starting up community choice energy programs.

But community choice systems will be crushed if Assembly Bill 2145 passes. This proposed law, sponsored by PG&E and other privately owned utilities, is now speeding through the state Legislature.

A lot is at stake. If AB 2145 becomes law, Californians will lose the opportunity for choice of electricity provider, competition, lower electricity rates, greener power, local economic development, local decision-making and leadership in a clean energy future.

As an example of a benefit that is at risk, a recent rate analysis conducted for Sonoma Wine Company shows that rates for greener electricity through Sonoma Clean Power will be 10 to 11 percent lower than PG&E’s. All Sonoma Clean Power customers are currently receiving at least a 4 percent savings on their electric bill. If AB 2145 were law, Sonoma Clean Power’s cleaner power and cheaper rates would not be possible because the program would not exist.

So why would any legislator vote for AB 2145? Because California’s big investor-owned utilities want to fend off the serious competition posed by community choice and have tapped powerful allies to push AB 2145 through.

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