Santa Rosa retirees examine Sonoma power switch

Hunter Stern speaks to Santa Rosa retirees. Photo by JV Macor

Hunter Stern speaks to Santa Rosa retirees. Photo by JV Macor

IBEW 1245 Business Rep Hunter Stern spoke to the Santa Rosa Chapter of the IBEW 1245 Retirees Club on March 4 about recent moves by Sonoma County to switch to a new power provider.

The Sonoma Clean Power Authority recently sent solicitation letters to many of the county’s businesses and residents, trying to persuade them to drop PG&E service and get their power from another provider.

“The power will be coming from an energy trading company owned by Exelon,” Stern said in an interview after the retirees meeting. “They say they’re going to provide 33% renewable power.”

But about half of that “renewable” power will come from purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), Stern said.

The purchase of RECs does not affect how much renewable energy is actually generated—only how it is distributed. Some environmentalists now consider the use of RECs a form of “greenwashing” that creates an appearance of being “green” without actually putting any additional renewable power into the grid.

New Sonoma, an organization of financial experts and citizens concerned about finances and governance in Sonoma County, has calculated that if you strip away the veneer of green that RECs provide, Sonoma Clean Power Authority will actually create close to double the greenhouse gas emissions of PG&E.

Stern said that Sonoma Clean Power Authority has broken its promises to its customers.

“They’re not building renewable energy, not creating jobs, not creating any benefits to the local economy, and not creating any renewable power construction in the county,” he said. “Instead, they’re contracting for all their power through an out-of-state energy trading company.”