If Sonoma Clean Power customers return to PG&E, these are the rules and legal procedures that must occur:
• If cities or counties wish to withdraw as members and send all of their residential ratepayers and businesses back to PG&E, they have to give six month’s notice and pay Sonoma Clean Power for any losses associated with having bought electricity for them or wait until those energy contracts expire. In 2016, the most recent data available, the payback amount for Sonoma County was roughly $62 million, for Santa Rosa. $58 million. For the smallest member, Cotati, the amount was roughly $2 million.
• If individuals, businesses or municipal accounts decide to return to PG&E on their own, they can leave at any time. If they don’t give PG&E six months’ notice, for six months the utility will charge them a transitional rate that can fluctuate each day and may be higher than PG&E’s normal rates. Individuals pay Sonoma Clean Power a $5 departure fee. Businesses pay $25. If they want to return to Sonoma Clean Power, PG&E requires they wait a year.
• If Sonoma Clean Power customers don’t pay their bill, in 45 days the agency can transfer them back to PG&E.
• If Sonoma Clean Power were to go bankrupt, any financial loss could fall to its employees and suppliers. The member cities, counties and taxpayers are not at risk. Sonoma Clean Power is a Joint Powers Authority which insulates its member cities and counties from Sonoma Clean Power’s debts, said general counsel Jessica Mullan. Ratepayers are not at risk because they could go back to PG&E.
• If Sonoma Clean Power decides to close its doors, pay its bills and return its customers en masse to PG&E, it must give PG&E one year’s advance notice, make sure PG&E can supply the power needed and pay PG&E $4.24 per customer account. For today’s roughly 224,000 customers, that would be $949,760.