Marin County tries to bypass PG&E
February 6, 2010
Marin County is poised to become California’s first to set up its own public power agency–unless Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) can block them in the courts, or on the ballot. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Last Thursday, the upstart Marin Energy Authority set its rates and picked a company to buy electricity wholesale for many of the county’s residents. If all goes as scheduled, the new group could start selling power to customers by May.
Marin County, just north of San Francisco, is the first to adopt a new form of public power called “community choice aggregration.” Spawned from a law written during Califoria’s energy crisis, cities and counties can buy electricity for their residents, while utilities continue to own and operate the power grid.
San Francisco has already developed a community choice plan, and other cities and counties are likely to follow, all sparked by the appeal of local control.
However, PG&E will not go away easily. The utility has a history of successfully blocking efforts by cities opting for the public power option. PG&E is also pushing a measure on the June ballot designed to make community aggregation harder to achieve.
Already, the San Francisco-based utility has threatened not to deliver electricity to the new Marin County agency on PG&E power lines. PG&E is also warning of a possible lawsuit, demanding that an Environmental Impact Report on the project be filed first.