Corte Madera residents seem willing to put their green into action.
Corte Madera Town Council members listened to a symphony by residents praising Marin Energy Authority and urging the City to take advantage of an amnesty period to join the MEA.
Council members voted 4-1 late Tuesday night to join the MEA, eliciting applause from a weary crowd of supporters. Corte Madera is the last municipality within Marin County to join the MEA. Larkspur voted in October to join the energy provider.
"There's really no harm in going forward with this and we're giving people a choce," Vice-Mayor Bob Ravasio said before casting his vote. "And obviously people wanted a choice."
Corte Madera chose not to join the MEA two years ago during the initial enrollment push. Looking back on the MEA's operations during the past two years, the Town Council seemed to have more confidence in the joint powers authority.
Corte Madera and Larkspur took advantage of an amnesty period offered by MEA during which they can avoid $20,000-$40,000 in initial fees and costs. MEA is expanding its energy supply, making it easier to add new clients now rather than later, so it made sense for the joint powers authority to offer the amnesty period, according to MEA executive officer Dawn Wiesz.
The agency serves about 9,000 customers and hopes to increase the base to 70,000 rate payers in its second phase of operations next year, according to Wiesz.
Currently, 26.5 percent of the electricity that the Marin Energy Authority supplies to its customers comes from renewable sources, while PG&E estimated that approximately 16 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources in 2010.
Wiesz's presentation to the Town Council suggested that Corte Madera could receive new solar installations and electric vehicle charging stations as the MEA seeks to expand its green-energy impact. Weisz did not propose building any windmills in Corte Madera, although some of the residents in attendance pondered the idea as they left the meeting.
The lone voice on the council against joining the MEA was the outspoken Michael Lappert.
"I'll vote against it, just because I can," Lappert joked, although he listed some plausible arguments for not joining the MEA.
"We're spending the people's money here. … Risk-taking is not a good thing," Lappert said. "If the government is doing something, it is doing it highly inefficiently. That's just the nature of government. I'm looking at the staff sheet and it's already got a half million dollars in payroll. A half a million dollars in payroll. You think that's a big amount? Just wait and see what it looks like in 10 years."
After one resident reminded the council members that "It's election time," Lappert joked that MEA supporters might not want to vote for him in two years when he's up for re-election.
Mayor Alexandra Cock and Ravasio, both on the ballot in next week's election, meanwhile, looked at each other to a ominous chorus of "oohs."
That warning, said primarily in jest, had little effect on the vote. Cock and Ravasio seemed satisfied that the risk to the townspeople is minimal. There remained concerns, however, over whether or not it would be clear to residents that they have a choice between Marin Clean Energy and PG&E.
Residents will be automatically enrolled into the MEA's default program, unless they choose to opt out and stay with PG&E.
Even if residents do ally themselves with Marin Clean Energy, they would still get their bills from PG&E, which controls the energy transmission and distribution lines.