City of Sonoma goes “Evergreen”

Posted on October 4, 2016 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The City of Sonoma will be the first in the county to switch all of its own electric accounts to Sonoma Clean Power’s Evergreen or 100% clean power option. This means all of the electric for the city will come from geothermal (The Geysers, ) and solar sources, no carbon footprint will be created to produce the city’s energy.

This move was strongly supported by city manager Carol Giovanatto and the entire city council, which voted 5 to 0 to support it at the 10/3/16 council meeting. The $19,500 per year cost for the city to have Evergreen energy brings with it multiple benefits, and was seen by the City Council as an overwhelmingly solid policy choice. Evergreen was characterized by the council and members of the public as a proactive leadership move by the city, coming at a time when the county-wide Climate Action Plan (CAP) is in limbo from a CEQA lawsuit.

Geof Syfers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, noted to city manager Giovanatto, that Sonoma’s choice of the Evergreen option will serve as an example for other cities and residents to follow suit. If residents choose Evergreen, their home and business energy use will be 100% emissions-free. Should city and residential gas-powered equipment be replaced by corded and battery powered tools, this would bring Sonoma to the vanguard of world climate protection. The ozone and black carbon that result from 2-stroke engine use cause substantially more global warming than CO2.

Sonoma Clean Power works on a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) model. CCA allows an individuals to choose to buy clean power. Having the Evergreen level of CCA power delivery, means Sonoma is choosing a top, high impact greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measure from Climate Action 2020. The choice of Evergreen will likely go a long way to bringing Sonoma up to the middle of the pack of small cities in the county in GHG reduction.

The city currently does not have dedicated monies in its budget to pay staff to work on Climate Action 2020, yet for a mere $19,500 per year, every time electrical power is drawn, this will be a GHG reduction by the city. For the same $19,500, you couldn’t pay staff to find the same level of GHG reductions. The council clearly sees this as a smart move by the city.  Multiple benefits include: economies in cost of staff time, satisfies regional climate policy, rallies the troops in the city and county by doing the right thing, and sets up further GHG reductions for electric power equipment and electric vehicle use.

In terms of electric vehicle (EV) and city EV fleet charging stations, the city can now move to the front of the line of cutting edge energy policy. The public, and tourists, can be offered 100% clean power vehicle charging when the city begins to provide that service to encourage EV use. Public Works can think of gradually switching to electric tools and electric city vehicles and thereby add even more to the city’s climate mitigation profile.

Members of the public in attendance, including Tom Conlon of Transition Sonoma, Fred Allebach of the CSEC, former Mayor Larry Barnett and council candidates Jack Wagner and Amy Harrington, voiced sentiments that not only is Evergreen the right thing to do in the face of a serious global climate crisis, it also gives good news to plugging our tourism industry as legitimately green, and helps to frame Sonoma as a place to hope even more sustainability ideas will take hold.

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