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Rohnert Park City Council hears public power agency pitch

Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane aimed high at the Rohnert Park City Council on Tuesday, as the political campaign to convince cities to join the county's public power agency continued.

“I invite you to join us in a revolution,” Zane said to the council, urging them to climb aboard an effort meant to displace PG&E as the county's principle power supplier.

“We are going to introduce competition where there has been none,” Zane said. She left others to tout the focus on renewable energy sources that Sonoma Clean Power's supporters say is one of its chief attractions.

Instead, she concentrated her remarks on the marketplace.

“This is about capitalism,” Zane said. “This is about choice.”

Rohnert Park was the third city on the county's Clean Power roadshow to convince cities to take part. Its council members asked cautious questions, their positions on the plan not discernible.

“What are the issues if three or four cities decline to join?” Councilman Amy Ahanotu said.

“It's not going to hurt the program,” said Cordel Stillman, deputy chief engineer of the county Water Agency, which is presenting the plan to the cities.

Councilman Jake Mackenzie wanted to know if the four power companies from whom the county is considering buying electricity are bound by the pricing they've offered.

No, said Stillman. But once negotiations begin, he said, prices may even improve as the companies jockey for the contract.

“We anticipate they will sharpen their pencils and come back with something even better,” Stillman said.

Councilwoman Gina Belforte asked why profits should be ploughed into local energy projects, an option many supporters favor, rather than used to lower customer costs.

“Why not give that money back to ratepayers?” Belforte said.

“That's an option” for the Clean Power board to decide, Stillman said. Such policy is not decided yet, he said, a not-incidental pitch to the city to join and gain a voice in shaping it.

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