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Cloverdale says no, for now, to county power agency

The Cloverdale City Council has said it’s premature to join a public power agency intended to supplant PG&E as the city’s primary source of electricity.

Citing the need for more information, Council members Wednesday night declined to commit to the proposed Sonoma Clean Power Authority, but left the door open to doing so in the future.

“There doesn’t seem to be any penalty to waiting to see what happens. I don’t think we should be in any rush,” said Councilwoman Mary Ann Brigham. “It’s like buying a pig in a poke. I like the concept, but I think it’s premature.”

Only Mayor Joe Palla was in favor of proceeding immediately with plans to join Sonoma Clean Power, which supporters tout as a greener alternative to PG&E, with a higher share of electricity from renewable sources.

“I’m a firm believer in competition,” Palla said, adding that it will give Cloverdale residents a choice.

“The program’s here. Cloverdale won’t stop it, nor will other cities,” he said, adding that if Cloverdale did choose to join its residents and businesses could still opt out and stay with PG&E.

County officials are appealing to cities other than Healdsburg — which has its own utility — to join the program by June 30.

Cloverdale is the first city to provide an answer, in essence choosing to sit on the sidelines for now.

But Cloverdale represents only a small share — 1.7 percent — of power customers in Sonoma County.

County officials maintain there will be no financial liability for cities if the power agency fails.

The county has narrowed the list of potential power suppliers to four companies. The agency intends to start with power that is 33 percent from renewable sources, a greater proportion than PG&E’s 20 percent.

But Cloverdale council members had questions about the rates, even though county officials say initial bids show electricity could be competitive if not cheaper than PG&E.

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