San Juan council OKs study for alternative power agreement

San Juan Bautista is shown in this overhead shot.

San Juan Bautista council members voted 3-2 to approve a resolution Tuesday to become part of a “feasibility study” to look into whether the city wants to move into an alternative energy agreement with other communities in the region.
The new model – called Community Choice Aggregation – allows local and county governments to move away from using energy from corporate-sponsored companies and instead brings together independent energy producers in the region. In October, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors approved the study. It will be on the Hollister council’s agenda next week.
The approval came after the San Juan council tabled the decision in October after requesting more figures and information from the Monterey Bay Community Power Project,  which is leading the effort to get San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties  – and their cities – on board with the project.
“Under this model, dollars stay in the local community and are reinvested in new projects that reduce greenhouse gases and produce green jobs here,” said Brennen Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Monterey Bay Community Power Project.
She said the goal of the program is to create a mix of energy consumption at parity with Pacific Gas and Electric that is owned by the local and county governments. The resolution would allow the commission overseeing the study to collect energy data from PG&E on San Juan residents.
“That’s a significant part of the feasibility study – obtaining the data,” Jensen said.
The council questioned Jensen about fees or costs down the line that could affect the city’s budget.
“I see a parallel with the high-speed rail project,” Councilmen Rick Edge said. “I don’t mean to paint the project with that color, but it bothers me.”
The council chose to allow Adam Goldstone, who will be the county’s voting member on the committee overseeing the project, to represent San Juan Bautista in the meetings.
“Your participation is up to you about what you want that participation to be,” Jensen said. “There is no financial obligation in order to participate.”
Mayor Tony Boch said because the county was providing a representative to the study committee and no costs would be required immediately, the study is worth doing.
“Until you do the study, you don’t know how much it costs,” he said.
The council voted to include the phrase “at no additional cost” several times in the resolution, to eliminate ambiguity.
San Juan Bautista resident Chris Martorana encouraged the council to approve the resolution.
“I am very excited about this proposal,” he said. “We got to be included in the study to understand what the ramifications are.”
In other matters:
-The council voted to reclassify certain city positions and give pay raises to the finance and administrative office clerk, the city’s administrative services manager and the maintenance officer.
-The city decided to look into whether to keep the Double Road Race event for another year. The event had its inaugural race in the Mission City last month with a goal of boosting the economy.

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