Santa Rosa has a new company that offers financing and services to help cities and counties in California establish community power programs such as Sonoma Clean Power.
The new company California Clean Power has already formed partnerships with First Community Bank. First Community Bank provided financing for the county’s public power program. Santa Rosa’s The Climate Centre was also a supporter of that effort.
Peter Rumble, a former county official and new CEO of the company, stated that “our goal is to provide cleaner energy at a lower price with local control.” Rumble will be leaving his position as deputy county administrator to take over California Clean Power.
The company’s four other owners and directors include developer Bill Gallaher (managing director of Oakmont Senior Living); former North Coast congressman Doug Bosco who is a principal investor and general attorney for Sonoma Media Investments which owns The Press Democrat; Komron Shahideini, a county planning commission and a partner at Oakmont Senior Living responsible for site acquisition and development; Jonathan Kathrein, a Bosco law clerk and law student with a background as community and environmental organising.
Gallaher, Bosco, and the board of directors at First Community are also directors. First Community has provided $10,000,000 in financing for Sonoma Clean Power, with a key startup loan amounting $2.5 million.
Sonoma Clean Power, a government agency, buys electricity from county residents and businesses. The rates are said to be 4 to 5 percent less than PG&E’s. The agency started supplying power in May, and it is expected to continue serving residents in seven of the nine county cities as well as those in the unincorporated areas.
California Clean Power is the second company formed using the lessons learned from the county’s energy initiatives. Santa Rosa’s Ygrene Energy Fund was the first to be formed. It was established in 2011 with the goal of providing homeowners and businesses across the country with a new way for them to finance solar systems or energy-saving improvements. The county’s Energy Independence Program was the inspiration for the company. It was the first program nationwide to offer government-aided financing and repayment via property taxes.
Sonoma Clean Power was the second state-wide active community choice power program. The first was in Marin County.
Susan Gorin, County Supervisor, is Sonoma Clean Power chairwoman. She said that the company’s new concept was “good” since it takes a lot of time and effort to get an agency like a community power source off the ground. She said that the most important service is the start-up funding needed to pay for staff time and other expenses over a few years.
Gorin stated that the funding was provided by First Community. “We are very grateful for it,” he said.
Debbie Meekins, First Community President/CEO, stated that the bank joined Sonoma Clean Power due to the compelling benefits it offered communities in terms of choice, renewable energy, and local control.
Meekins stated that California Clean Power is looking to do the exact same thing.
The company will offer “turn-key” solutions to cities and counties that include financing, legal assistance, energy procurement, public outreach, billing, and other services.
Shahhosseini, director, stated that there is an opportunity to help the children with the difficult tasks.
Noble Americas Energy Solutions, based in San Diego, will manage power purchases. Rumble stated that California Clean Power will be able to make its revenue from a portion the rates charged by each energy user.
Rumble worked for the county for eight years, most recently as a deputy administrator and spokesman. Although he wasn’t directly involved in Sonoma Clean Power’s creation, he did assist with the initial business plan for the county’s Energy Independence Program. He also participated in the county’s opposition to legislation this year that would have made it more difficult to start new community choice power programs.
He said that there are many communities interested in the model.