Frequently Asked Questions | Sonoma Clean Power
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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Q

Does SCP replace PG&E?

A

SCP replaces PG&E’s electric generation service with its own electric generation service. Customers continue to pay PG&E for maintaining the grid (called “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), service starts and stops when you move, and resolves outages.

Q

What is Sonoma Clean Power?

A

Sonoma Clean Power is a not-for-profit public agency operated by the Cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Fort Bragg, Petaluma, Point Arena, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Willits and the Town of Windsor, and the Counties of Sonoma and Mendocino.

SCP generates electricity for our customers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties from cleaner sources with lower emissions at about the same price as PG&E. Since our inception in 2014, we’ve managed to save our customers tens of millions of dollars in on-bill savings.

PG&E continues to maintain the grid, repair power lines and does all billing, exactly as they always have.

Q

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

A

Absolutely. PG&E will continue to provide the same level of service to Sonoma Clean Power customers as they provide to their other customers. In fact, PG&E earns the same profit as always, since their profit comes from building and maintaining infrastructure (the grid) and not from selling electricity.

Q

Why did my default provider change to SCP?

A

Historically, PG&E has been the default electricity provider to customers in Northern California and customers were automatically served by PG&E because there was no public source of power available.

Due to the benefits offered by publicly-owned power programs, such as SCP, our state legislators passed California’s Community Choice Aggregation law in 2002 making public programs like SCP the default service provider.

Q

Can I Opt Out?

A

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.

Q

Will I still receive my PG&E discounts as a SCP customer?

A

Yes, if you currently receive CARE, FERA, Medical Baseline, or PG&E Employee discounts from PG&E, you will continue to receive your full discount as an SCP customer. You do not need to re-apply.

Q

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

A

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

Q

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

A

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.

Q

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

A

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, such as SmartRate and Peak Day Pricing. Call us to find out more information at 1 (855) 202-2139.

Q

Can I still participate in Budget Billing (Balanced Payment Plan)?

A

You will continue to receive your gas and electric delivery charges from PG&E under the Budget Billing program (previously Balanced Payment Plan). However, your electric generation charges from SCP will not be included as part of the Budget Billing calculation and will vary from month to month depending on your usage. Therefore, you may see some variance in your monthly bills.

Q

Who can participate?

A

Electric customers living in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties are eligible to participate with the exception of people living in the cities of Ukiah and Healdsburg which have their own municipal power programs.

Q

Does PG&E fix our lines?

A

PG&E profit comes from building and maintaining the grid.

Background

Q

Why was Sonoma Clean Power formed?

A

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, and new customer programs.

Q

Have other communities done this before?

A

Yes, there are quite a few operational CCAs in California and many more investigating Community Choice Aggregation. In addition, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and New York also have community choice programs. For a full list of California CCAs please visit www.cal-cca.org.

Q

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

A

In 2002, Assembly Bill 117 was enacted to allow cities and counties to purchase electricity on behalf of their residents and businesses as a way of promoting competition in electric generation. In 2010, the Sonoma County Water Agency began exploring the formation of a Community Choice program and formed 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 Choice 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 started serving Mendocino County and the Cities of Fort Bragg, Point Arena, and Willits in June 2017.

Q

How will Sonoma Clean Power benefit us?

A

More renewables. SCP’s mix of renewable energy sources for the default CleanStart service has half the greenhouse gas emissions compared to PG&E. 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 is done through a public process that gives us local control and accountability.

New markets for renewable energy. By entering into a Power Purchase Agreements with developers, SCP helped construct 70 MW of new solar in central California (2016) and 46 MW of repowered wind in the Altamont Pass (2017). SCP also recently signed a PPA for another wind repower project in northern California for 80 MW. In addition, SCP offers a feed in tariff that incentivizes local, renewable generation. But this is just the beginning – SCP continues the push for better, cleaner energy.

Local reinvestment. In the past, over $200 million left Sonoma and Mendocino Counties each year to pay for electric generation. SCP helps redirect some of that money back into our local economy by contracting for local services and electricity and by providing lower rates whenever possible. Since 2014, SCP has helped customers save tens of millions of dollars on their bills and has paid customers over $2,100,000 for producing excess local renewable energy. This program directly helps our local energy companies by increasing the demand for these clean, renewable energy systems. SCP will continue to buy increasing amounts of electricity from local sources, helping support local jobs. We currently procure 50 MW of clean geothermal power from the Geysers.

Local programs. SCP develops and funds local energy programs to benefit our unique customer needs, such as our DriveEV (formerly Drive EverGreen) program and free electric vehicle charger program. Because SCP customers are still eligible for almost all of PG&E’s programs, SCP can focus on programs that can be targeted for our service territory. Got a great program idea, email us at programs@sonomacleanpower.org.

Moving/Enrolling/Opting Out

Q

What is the enrollment process?

A

If you live or move into SCP’s service territory your default service for electric generation is SCP. PG&E continues to maintain the grid, repair lines, and do all customer billing. You do not need to take any action to enroll in SCP, since the vote to change the default service provider by your city and county already shifted your sources of power to SCP’s cleaner mix of wind, hydropower, geothermal, solar, biomass, and much less natural gas. You may also opt out of SCP’s service and take electric generation service from PG&E.

Q

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

A

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 electric generation service from SCP for 6 months after which time they will return to PG&E’s standard bundled service.
  2. A customer may request to return to PG&E on their next meter read, but will be subject to PG&E’s Transitional Bundled Commodity Cost (TBCC) rate for 6 months instead of PG&E’s traditional bundled 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 $5 for residential customers and $25 for commercial customers.

Q

Is there a fee for opting out of SCP?

A

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.

Q

Can I re-enroll in SCP if I previously opted out?

A

Yes, if you opted out of SCP before service started or within the first 60 days of service you can return to SCP at any time. If you have opted out after the first 60 days of service, PG&E requires you stay with their bundled service for one year. Once that year is up, you may re-enroll in SCP for electric generation services online or by calling our local Call Center at 1 (855) 202-2139.

Rates

Q

What does it cost?

A

SCP has negotiated competitively priced contracts 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 and a jointly prepared comparison of SCP’s and PG&E’s rates.

Q

Will billing change?

A

You will continue to receive 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.

Q

What is the California Climate Credit?

A

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.

Q

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

A

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

Q

Are CleanStart and EverGreen really greener than PG&E?

A

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 45% renewable and 87% carbon free, from sources considered renewable under California’s regulations, like wind, biomass and geothermal, and 42% from large hydropower facilities. The remaining power comes from “system power,” which is largely natural gas, but may include some renewables.

EverGreen is 100% local renewable power from geothermal and solar. The premium for EverGreen is 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour or about $13 more per month for the average residential customer. For those who want to help pioneer a clean energy economy, you can switch to EverGreen at any time! Learn more.

Q

Does this mean our hillsides will turn into solar farms?

A

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.

Q

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

A

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.

SCP has chosen to never use them to reduce its reported emissions.

Q

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

A

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 electricity 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 electricity on to the grid for you, because that is where the impacts are.

When we contract for electricity from the Geysers, for example, they turn on a geothermal unit and it operates on our behalf. If, instead, we contracted for electricity 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 electricity is created, and some sources, like the Geysers, are much cleaner than others.

Q

What are the sources of SCP's electricity?

A

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.

Q

What if I want to sell electricity to SCP?

A

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.

Q

What happens if I move within SCP's territory as an EverGreen customer?

A

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 to have your new PG&E account information available when you call or go online.

Governance

Q

How is Sonoma Clean Power run?

A

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 Counties and the cities that have voted to join. The Board is advised by a public Community Advisory Committee.

Q

Won't this create another expensive government agency?

A

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 small 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.