Seven facilities in Calif. county will use only renewable power

By Luke Geiver | January 27, 2012

Sonoma County, Calif., officials want to use renewable energy and save money, so it will now power seven of its facilities with 100 percent renewable sources, including biomass.

The county has entered a one-year agreement with 3 Phases Renewables, a renewable energy solutions provider that works exclusively in California. The county will use 85 percent wind energy and 15 percent biomass to power facilities in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. The agreement allows Sonoma County to purchase and use renewable energy without forming a long-term contract with an energy supplier.

“3 Phases began working with the county’s landfill gas facility in 2004,” said Eric Hulin, sales and marketing manager for 3 Phases Renewables. “We helped them to interconnect with PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) and once they were interconnected we purchased their power.”

3 Phases procures its resources from several woody biomass or biogas facilities in the Western U.S., mostly in California, according to Hulin. The biomass power that will be used to supply Sonoma will not come from one single generator, he said. 

Shirlee Zane, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, said the county’s power purchase agreement (PPA) for 2012 represents a cost savings for the county at a time when budgets are tight. According to Zane, the use of renewable energy will eliminate roughly 1.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Although Hulin could not comment on the price structure of the PPA, he did say that the county will save money.

The use of 100 percent renewable energy may also help Sonoma County’s goal of achieving a greenhouse gas reduction level below levels seen in 1990, a goal first implemented in 2004 that the county hopes to achieve by 2015.

“We’re working hard to duplicate the model throughout California,” Hulin said.