Plug in, dream on, opt out: the scam of government energy greenwashing


SCP_Logo_RGBIf you think the Federal government has no business managing your healthcare, here’s another takeover you won’t love: Community Choice Aggregation, or greenwashing, as it’s called by its many critics.  In either case, it means that local politicians will force you to buy electricity from an unproven new utility company run by… local politicians.

When I say force, I mean that all residents involved automatically stop receiving energy from their current supplier, and begin paying their local government for it. Unless they take the trouble to file an opt-out form.

How does this work?  My home county (Sonoma County, CA) is a perfect example of how CCAs are multiplying all across the country like toadstools. First, an ambitious county worker decides he knows more about the electricity business than the local utility, who have supplied power for more than a hundred years. Next, he makes a pitch to the Water Agency Board of Directors, who direct the Water Agency to look into this thing. This is like chumming for wonks, and before you know it, there’s a “steering committee consisting of representatives from the cities of Sonoma County, the County, the Regional Climate Protection Authority, Climate Protection Campaign, the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Santa Rosa Board of Public Utilities, Sierra Club, and private industry.”

You can read the whole sad history here, but the point is that friendly local power monopolies are now being hijacked by a gaggle of largely unelected county workers. All because they think you want greener electrons in your sockets.

Are government electrons actually any greener?

That’s the worst part. To begin with, the local CCA, Sonoma Clean Power,  will use the transmission lines, substations, and maintenance crews of the current provider, PG&E. And they will fill those wires with a new cocktail of renewable energy from the open market and “renewable energy credits.”

In Sonoma County, PG&E customers’ power comes from the ultimate green source: Hot water bubbling up from The Geysers geothermal facility. This complex of natural steam-driven power plants in the Mayacamas Mountains north of San Francisco produces the majority of electricity from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

SCP does everything they can to convince people that PG&E = dirty power. On the SCP website, they claim  “SCP produces a net environmental benefit by buying more renewable energy. SCP will start with 33% renewables in 2014 compared with PG&E’s 19%.” How did they get that number? By using a worst-case blend of PG&E’s total portfolio across its entire service area. One more time, let me repeat that 100% of the PG&E electrons in Sonoma County are bright green.

By contrast, customers who stay with Sonoma Clean Power will receive power that comes from 33% renewable sources. They plan to buy their power from energy providers in Chicago, Houston, or Canada. And SCP admits that half of their “renewable power” will come from purchasing “Renewable Energy Credits”, another scheme like the cap and trade scam that has made Al Gore’s portfolio even larger than his head.

Doing the math, PG&E = 100% green in Sonoma County. Sonoma Clean Power = 33% green – 16% renewable energy credits = 17% actual green energy = 83% brown energy. Sounds like a bad tradeoff to me.

Why they think you’ll buy this myth:

First, SCP thinks their local politicians, with zero experience in the power business, can negotiate a fair contract with actual energy professionals like NRG Energy, Direct Energy, and Constellation, and keep the cost about the same.

Second, they based their business plan on the assumption that only 20% of customers will have the brains or the will to opt out of this program. At that rate, they’re hoping to take in $130 million a year. This will give them the funds they need to build local green power facilities one of these days.

The biggest lie of all:

SCP would love you to think you’re making the air cleaner above your own back yard. Chuckle. The following paragraph is taken directly from SCP’s website:

RECs work like a swap. For example, we could buy RECs from a wind farm in Oregon where land is cheaper and it makes sense to have a wind farm. The farm would then have to sell its clean electricity into the local grid as if it were traditional power. We would buy traditional power locally and label it clean power because we’re swapping the wind farm clean power for our traditional power using the RECs. This swap works because it does not matter where the emissions reduction occurs, as long as it is thoroughly verified and provable—it does occur.

Despite these major drawbacks, CCAs can be found in Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. In Illinois, over 600 cities and counties have bought into this fiction. If one of these Ponzi schemes creeps into your neighborhood, I advise you to read the fine print. In light supplied by an actual power company.

7 thoughts on “Plug in, dream on, opt out: the scam of government energy greenwashing

  1. Thanks for the information Greg. I am in my mid 60’s, born and raised is Sonoma County until I left last year because living in that progressive hell was unbearable. I told my wife we had to move back to America and we found a nice community just north of Sonoma County that fit the bill. It has better roads, lower taxes and far less government. Thank you for staying on top of these fools and showing the citizens who the enemy is. Now watch their job creation agenda and ask why they want to keep the population poor. I believe it will lead to a plan for social engineering forcing people into high density blended housing.

    • Thanks for the nice words. Mixed use urban infill is clearly where these fools are headed. May I ask where youoved to? Sounds nice.

      • We moved to Hidden Valley Lake near Middletown. It is a gated community with a nice little lake with 2 swimming beaches, low speed boating and pretty good fishing. They have a nice golf coarse, tennis courts, swim center, community center and teen center. We adopted a 13 year old and they offer a lot of camps and activities for her. Crime is very low and the schools are as good, or better than those in Sonoma County. Home prices are very reasonable. We bought a 4k sf home in over an acre with a lot of amenities and a Great Lake view for $440,000.00 and we bought a nice 3 bdr home for our daughters family for $165,000.00 which is, in total, less than we sold our 1800 sf older home in SC for. What’s nice is we are less than 20 miles from Calistoga and the real wine country if we get the desire for the food and drink without having to live with the politics. HVL also has 5 acre horse property parcels and a nice stable for those that like to ride.

  2. David… thanks for your comment. If you read the most recent FAQs from Sonoma Ponzi Power, they finally admit that because of line loss, it’s advantageous to get power from the closest possible source. The only other PGE stations in the area are natural gas facilities in Eureka and Colusa, 200 and 100 miles away, respectively. I talked to a PGE media relations rep to get the answer to the same question, but have not received an answer yet. I’ll follow up with her again today. I have several ideas about staying on SCP’s deceptive tactics. One is a Close To Home article on their opt out letter I sent the PD yesterday. Hopefully, they’ll publish it. SCP’s opt-out letter is one of the shadiest, most dishonest pieces I have seen. My article is the fisrst of many rebuttals to their lies.

  3. Thanks for the information. I’ve asked the question on Geyser generated power and both times SCP’s explanation is that PG&E only supplies a very small amount of power to Sonoma, even though my question is, “Does Sonoma County receive most if not all of it’s power from the Geysers?” My question to you, how do we educate the the general public of this scam, as well as provide additional info on Constellation’s parent company, Exelon, a company that generates a large percentage of it’s power through 10 nuclear power plants. I don’t have a problem with nuclear power, but I’ll bet many of the customer who are about to be opted in to SCP may have second thoughts and would choose to opt out if they were provided the information. Will the general public be provided with the above information when they receive their first billing that provides for opting out ? I plan on attending the next few supervisor meetings to ask this question, or maybe even make a request that the customer receive this info. in the opt out information pamphlet. Maybe a person with your knowledge would be able to provide a rebuttal, much like in a voter election pamphlet. Yeah I know, fat chance.

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