FAQ

Enrolling

What’s the enrollment process?

If you live or work in a participating area, you don’t need to do anything to become a Sonoma Clean Power customer. At least two months before you are eligible for service, you will begin receiving notices of enrollment and your options. If you want to opt out, the notices describe how to do that, too. You will get a total of five notices.  For Mendocino County customers your services, if you do not opt out, will begin in June 2017.

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.

Can I return to PG&E after the first 60 days of service with SCP?

Yes. You can request to opt out of SCP at any time. However, 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. In addition, PG&E provides two options for customers who wish to return to PG&E after the first 60 days of service:

  1. A customer may request to return to PG&E by providing 6 months advance notice. The customer will continue to receive energy from SCP for 6 months after which time they will return to PG&E. PG&E will apply their standard rates upon the customer’s return.
  2. A customer may request to return to PG&E immediately, but will be subject to PG&E’s Transitional Bundled Commodity Cost (TBCC) rate program for 6 months instead of PG&E’s traditional rates. PG&E’s TBCC rate is transitional and varies from month to month.

Customers should contact PG&E for more information about TBCC and their options for returning to PG&E after the first 60 days of service with SCP.

SCP will charge customers who opt out after the first 60 days of service a small one-time administrative opt out fee, which is currently set at $5 for residential customers and $25 for commercial 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.

General Questions

What is Sonoma Clean Power?

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is the official electricity provider for Sonoma and Mendocino counties. We provide you with the option of using cleaner electricity at a competitive rates from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. SCP is a not-for-profit public agency, independently run by the participating cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Petaluma, Point Arena, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Windsor, and the counties of Sonoma and Mendocino.

Does SCP replace PG&E?

Sonoma Clean Power replaces PG&E’s electric generation services with its own electric generation service. You will continue to pay PG&E for electric delivery.  We purchase cleaner electricity, then feed it through PG&E’s wires to deliver it to your home or business. PG&E handles the billing (one combined bill), starts and stops when you move, 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 services 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 your full discount as an SCP customer. You do not need to re-apply.

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.

When can I participate?

Service is currently available in Sonoma County and will be available in Mendocino County and the cities of Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and Point Arena in June 2017.You will be notified at least 60 days before service begins, and will receive a comparison of SCP’s rates to PG&E’s rates.

Can I enroll early?

Customers signing up for EverGreen, SCP’s 100% local renewable option, can sign up early online or by calling toll free at 1 (855) 202-2139. This service requires a 12 month commitment, and is priced to reflect the actual cost of 100% local renewable power.  The service carries a premium of 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour more than SCP’s default CleanStart service.

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 competitive rates, from cleaner sources, with more local control.

Have other communities done this before?

Yes. There are currently seven operational CCAs in California; Apple Valley Choice Energy, CleanPowerSF, Lancaster Choice Energy, MCE, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power.  More and more communities in California continue to investigate Community Choice Aggregation.  In addition, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York also have community power programs.

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.  Sonoma Clean Power starting serving customers in Sonoma County in 2014.  Due to SCP’s track record of competitive rates and cleaner electricity, Mendocino County asked to be served by Sonoma Clean Power.  SCP will start serving Mendocino County and the cities of Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and Point Arena in June 2017.

How will Sonoma Clean Power benefit us?

Choice and competition. In the past, there was only one electricity provider. SCP offers you a choice of providers and creates competition that encourages innovation and improved pricing.

More renewables. SCP’s mix of renewable energy sources for the default CleanStart service is 48% cleaner than PG&E’s.. SCP’s optional premium EverGreen service is 100% local AND renewable – the first service of its kind in California!

Local control. In the past, electric rates were set without any input from local
customers. SCP’s Board of Director’s are in charge of setting rates, this done through a public process that gives us local control and accountability.

New markets for renewable energy. SCP contracted 70 MW of new solar power in California that was completed in 2016 and offers a feed in tariff that incentivizes local, renewable generation. But this is just the beginning – SCP continues the push for better, cleaner energy. For a deeper understanding of SCP’s plans, see our Resource Plan SonomaCleanPower.org.

Local reinvestment. In the past, $180 million left Sonoma County each year to pay for electric generation. In our first year of operation, SCP will save our customers approximately $6 million dollars, creating an immediate economic benefit for our community. Over time, SCP will also buy increasing amounts of power from local sources, helping support local jobs. We’ve already got a great start with a 10MW purchase of clean geothermal power from the Geysers and the launch of our .

Local energy efficiency programs. Today, about $12 million is collected from Sonoma County every year to use for energy efficiency programs, but we’ve had very little say about what programs are implemented—or where in the state those funds are spent. SCP can apply to use some of that money to develop new programs and incentives better targeted to our needs.

 

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.  Sonoma Clean Power starting serving customers in Sonoma County in 2014.  Due to SCP’s track record of competitive rates and cleaner electricity, Mendocino County asked to be served by Sonoma Clean Power.  SCP will start serving Mendocino County and the cities of Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and Point Arena in June 2017.

Rates

What does it cost?

SCP has negotiated competitively priced contract and our current rates are very competitive with 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 electric generation will go to Sonoma Clean Power instead of PG&E.  Please visit our “How to Read Your Bill” video to learn more.

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.

When will I see the change to my PG&E statement now that I am an SCP customer?

You will notice a change on your PG&E statement on the first bill you receive following your first month of service from Sonoma Clean Power. The line item will reflect “Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) Electric Generation Charges”. For more information, please visit the billing page of our website.

Renewables

Are CleanStart and EverGreen really greener than PG&E?

Electricity is inherently clean once it is generated.  It is how it’s made that determines if it is clean or dirty.  By contracting with cleaner generating sources SCP is able to offer electricity that has fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to PG&E’s mix.

SCP’s CleanStart is 77% carbon free — 36% from sources considered renewable under California’s regulations, like wind, biomass and geothermal, and 41% from large hydropower facilities. The remaining power comes from “systems power,” which is largely natural gas, but may include some renewables.

EverGreen is 100% local renewable power. Currently, EverGreen is made up of geothermal power, but local solar will soon be added to the mix.  EverGreen has a premium of $0.025 per kilowatt-hour which is about 11% over the cost of average residential SCP CleanStart service. For a typical single-family home the premium would be around $13 per month.  The service requires a 12 month commitment.    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)?

Unbundled RECs are part of a national program to jump-start the renewable energy industry, allowing people to support renewables far away, while buying energy from non-renewable sources close to them. They are allowed for use under the California Public Utilities Commission’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, but SCP has chosen to never use them to reduce its reported emissions.

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 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 as an EverGreen customers?

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.

Doesn't all of our power come from the Geysers?

Since the Geysers geothermal facility makes a lot of power and is close by, it seems reasonable to assume that all of our power comes from that clean resource. But it turns out that just living near a clean power plant isn’t enough.

Power plants only operate when they have a contract to receive payment, and those who pay for power get the credit for its environmental benefits.  If it worked any other way, then moving next door to someone with solar on their roof would help the environment, but of course it doesn’t. The family that paid for solar to be installed on their roof gets all of the credit for that power.

Governance

How is Sonoma Clean Power run?

Sonoma Clean Power is run by a CEO and a small staff. 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 Community Advisory Committee. The Board recently voted to approve service to Mendocino County, so please watch out site for more details on that.

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.