FAQ

General Questions

What is Sonoma Clean Power?

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is the official electricity provider in Sonoma County. We provide you with the option of using cleaner power at a competitive price from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. SCP is a not-for-profit agency, independently run by Sonoma County and the participating cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, unincorporated Sonoma County and the Town of Windsor.

Does SCP replace PG&E?

Sonoma Clean Power replaces PG&E’s electric generation services with its own electric generation service. We purchase then supply cleaner electricity to homes and businesses. PG&E continues to do the billing, starts and stops when you move, maintains the grid (poles and wires), and resolves outages.

Why am I automatically opted in to Sonoma Clean Power?

Historically, PG&E has been the default power provider to customers in Northern California and customers were automatically opted in to PG&E because there was no alternative service to choose from. Now there is a choice.

Because of the benefits offered by Community Choice programs such as Sonoma Clean Power, our state legislators passed California’s Community Choice Aggregation law in 2002, making Community Choice programs the default service, resulting in competition and better options for customers.

Can I Opt Out?

Yes. If you don’t want to participate in Sonoma Clean Power, you can opt out of the program and receive electric generation from PG&E. To opt out, please have a copy of your PG&E bill handy. You may opt out online or by calling our local Call Center at 1 (855) 202-2139.

Customers who opt out of SCP before or within the first 60 days after the start of service with SCP can return to SCP at any time. Customers who opt out after the first 60 days of service with SCP will be prohibited by PG&E from returning to SCP for one year.

Will I still receive CARE or Medical Baseline help with my bills?

Yes, if you currently receive CARE, FERA, or Medical Baseline discounts from PG&E, you will continue to receive these with SCP. You do not need to reapply.

When there’s a power outage, will PG&E fix our lines?

Absolutely. PG&E will continue to provide the same level of service to Sonoma Clean Power customers as they provide to their other customers.

What is PG&E's view of Sonoma Clean Power?

PG&E supports your power to choose a provider, and provides a full comparison of pricing to verify SCP’s lower rates. Visit PGE.com and search for “community choice” or try this link.

Why am I receiving telemarketing calls or door-to-door solicitations?

We do not engage in telemarketing or door-to-door solicitations. If you receive an unsolicited call or visit from someone claiming to represent Sonoma Clean Power, please report the incident to the the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTCcomplaintassistant.gov and Sonoma Clean Power at info@sonomacleanpower.org

Are PG&E programs available to me as an SCP customer?

Yes, almost all of PG&E’s programs are available to SCP customers, including, but not limited to energy efficiency rebates, net energy metering, and SmartAC. Visit pge.com for their latest program offerings.

Some PG&E generation-related programs may not be available to SCP customers. Call us to find out more information at 1 (855) 202-2139.

Will there be penalties for joining SCP late, or for going back to PG&E?

We waive the fee for opting out if you do it in the first 60 days after service starts.  After that, we charge $5 for switching to PG&E for residential customers and $25 for all other customers

Is there a fee for opting out of SCP?

There is no charge for opting out of SCP before or within the first 60 days of service. After the first 60 days of service SCP will charge a one-time $5 (residential) or $25 (commercial) fee.

Background

Why was Sonoma Clean Power formed?

Sonoma Clean Power was formed in response to our community’s desire for local control of our electric energy supply. Local residents and businesses wanted lower rates and cleaner power.

Have other communities done this before?

Yes. The County of Marin, cities within Marin County and the City of Richmond in Contra Costa County are part of Marin Clean Energy, which has been operational since 2010. Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island also have community power programs, and many California cities and counties are forming or are considering forming a community choice program.

Why haven’t we been able to do this before?

In 2002, Assembly Bill 117 was enacted to allow cities and counties to purchase power on behalf of their residents and businesses as a way of promoting competition in power generation. In 2010, the Sonoma County Water Agency began exploring the formation of a community power program forming a Steering Committee in early 2011. The committee was composed of city council members, city managers, businesses, activists and others. Two years of research resulted in the publication of a study showing that a community power program was feasible.

Rates

What does it cost?

SCP has negotiated competitively priced contract and our current rates are lower than PG&E’s current rates.  Detailed price information for each rate is available on our website for commercial and residential accounts.

Will billing change?

You will continue to get just one bill from PG&E. A few lines on the bill change since the charges for power generation will go to Sonoma Clean Power instead of PG&E.

What is the California Climate Credit?

You may notice something called a California Climate Credit on your electricity bill. This credit is your share of money from a state program that is fighting climate change. It happens automatically in April/May and October/November for most California homeowners and monthly for most California small businesses. You will see this credit whether you are a customer of Sonoma Clean Power and PG&E or PG&E alone.

Renewables

Are CleanStart and EverGreen really greener than PG&E?

SCP’s power has a higher renewable content than PG&E’s. CleanStart is 80% carbon free — 36% from sources considered renewable under California’s regulations, like wind, biomass and geothermal, and 44% from large hydropower facilities. The remaining power comes from “systems power,” which is largely natural gas.

EverGreen is 100% local renewable power, starting with geothermal power. The product isn’t for everyone because it carries a cost premium of about 12% and a 12 month commitment. But for those who want to help pioneer a clean energy economy, you can switch to EverGreen at any time!  Learn more.

Does this mean our hillsides will turn into solar farms?

Definitely not. There are enough existing structures and parking lots to provide a large percentage of our needs. Sonoma Clean Power also purchases geothermal power from the Geysers facility, a technology that makes power by pumping treated wastewater from Sonoma County into the ground where hot rocks heat the water to make steam and run turbines. Ground-mounted solar systems may also be constructed, but they will be subject to all of the normal environmental compliance reviews.

What is the story on Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)?

“RECs” are a way of paying a remote renewable energy producer to support renewable power, and are allowed for use in California as a way of using more renewable energy.  However, we don’t think RECs are effective at supporting our local economy and have a limited benefit for supporting the construction of new renewable resources. For this reason, Sonoma Clean Power has committed to using no unbundled RECs for the purpose of calculating our greenhouse gas impacts. We also limit our total use to 3% of our whole portfolio, the same amount that PG&E is allowed to use.

Since we share a grid, how do I know my electrons are cleaner?

It turns out all electricity is clean. It’s the generating sources that can pollute.

Whether electricity was made from natural gas or solar, by the time the power is in your wires, it is all exactly the same. There is no need (or way) to track which electricity you use. Instead, we track which generators put power into the grid for you, because that is where the impacts are.

When we contract for power from the Geysers, for example, they turn on a geothermal unit and it operates on our behalf.  If, instead, we contracted for power from a fossil fuel plant in the Central Valley, then that plant would increase its output – and its emissions – to account for our needs.  

With Sonoma Clean Power, we get to choose is how our power is created, and some sources, like the Geysers, are much cleaner than others.

What are the sources of SCP’s Energy?

Sonoma Clean Power is committed to increasing renewable energy, supporting the local economy and also providing competitively priced service. That’s quite a few goals, and no one power source can deliver all of them, which is why we use a combination of sources. You can view a breakdown of our current mix on our Power Sources page.

What if I want to sell electricity to SCP?

For energy developers, Sonoma Clean Power is pleased to offer a Feed-In Tariff for new renewable energy projects. Learn more about our ProFIT program.

For residential and commercial customers looking to install a system to offset their electricity consumption, we’re proud to offer our NetGreen program.

What happens if I move within SCP's territory?

EverGreen customers who move but stay within Sonoma Clean Power’s service territory will need to re-enroll to continue to receive our EverGreen service. This is because of the way the PG&E billing process works; your EverGreen service is linked to your specific meter or service agreement identification number, not to your name or business. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you.

Once you’ve moved and have established new service with PG&E, you may re-enroll in EverGreen through SCP’s website or by calling our local Call Center: 1 (855) 202-2139. Be sure and have your new PG&E account information available when you call or go online.

As a reminder, when you enroll in EverGreen, you’re committing to a minimum of 12 months of EverGreen service. When you move and re-enroll, your 12-month commitment date resets.

Governance

How is Sonoma Clean Power run?

Sonoma Clean Power is run by a CEO and a small staff that will is growing and will reach about 15 people. It is governed by the Board of Directors of the Sonoma Clean Power Authority, a joint powers authority of the County and the cities that have voted to join. The Board is advised by a public Ratepayer Advisory Committee and a Business Operations Committee.

Won't this create another expensive government agency?

Nope.  Sonoma Clean Power is different.  We are entirely self-funded by revenues we receive from customers. None of our expenses are paid by taxes, and our revenues cannot be diverted to pay for non-SCP uses. We have a minimal staff and our benefit costs are low. We keep our prices competitive by negotiating for all of our customers as a group and by the fact that we don’t have to charge extra to generate a profit.