The city of Davis and Yolo County are taking a step toward energy independence, and other municipalities ought to take notice.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Davis City Council likely will approve a plan to create a hybrid in the world of electricity, a concept called community choice energy.
The hybrid wouldn’t be a municipal utility district, like the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which has served Sacramento well. Nor would electricity customers in Davis and Yolo County remain subject to Pacific Gas and Electric, the private utility that provides electricity to its residents.
Instead, starting about 18 months from now, Davis would offer residents the option of getting greener electricity at a lower price. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to enter into the pact with the city of Davis. Woodland and West Sacramento ought to join as well.
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Davis and Yolo County still would rely on PG&E for distribution and billing, while creating a nonprofit that would locate and buy greener energy, and provide it at a lower cost to businesses and residents.
PG&E customers each month pay a public goods charge. Although the individual payments are small, the charge generates an estimated $4 million a year in Davis and Yolo County. The nonprofit that would oversee the system could spend that money locally, investing in new generation, energy efficiency, or battery systems to store electricity.
Davis has a ready source of renewable power in the 86-acre solar farm on the northern edge of the city, PV USA. That facility supplies electricity for municipal uses, and could be amped up to provide more electricity for residents.
Marin and Sonoma counties and the city of Lancaster already have blazed this particular trail, and it’s working.
Davis and Yolo County should place a premium on electricity generated within the region.
The goal is lofty: to provide more renewable energy, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and give residents a break on their electricity bills. No doubt, there are pitfalls. But community choice energy is worth whatever risk there might be.