Natural gas, nuclear, solar, large and small scale hydro, geothermal, and wind are among California’s main energy sources. A proposal being unveiled in Butte County this week could give the public more of a say in how locally used electricity is generated.
Under the proposal the familiar blue logo would still appear on your monthly bill, Pacific Gas & Electric would still maintain powerlines and poles. In fact, residents may not notice any difference at all.
What would change however, is the flowchart. Brian Ring is Assistant Chief Administrative Officer in Butte County.
“Government entities would build a program, and that program would basically buy electricity independent of the investor-owned utility, which in this case would be PG&E,” Ring said.
Already in place in some California jurisdictions, these new entities make decisions theoretically based on community input, rather than maximizing profits for investors. Called Community Choice Aggregation, the entities, like the regulated utilities themselves, must still comply with state mandates and regulations.
Some Bay Area communities have used the system to exclusively purchase renewable energy, even if that meant paying a slight premium.
Ring predicted the priority for Butte County residents would be to lower electricity costs.
How much it all matters is anyone’s guess. On Monday Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill setting new goals for renewable energy. The targets seek to derive half the state’s electricity from renewable sources within seven years, 60 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045.
Meetings to obtain public input are schedule for Wednesday and Thursday.
Wednesday’s meetings will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Southside Community Center, 2959 Lower Wyandotte Road, Oroville.
Thursday’s meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Masonic Family Center, 1110 West East Avenue, Chico.