The Board of Supervisors voted Oct. 10 to postpone partnering with Pioneer Community Energy to procure electricity for residents and businesses of the unincorporated county.
Pioneer Community Energy is a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) provider, which procures power for its customers in place of the local investor-owned utility, Pacific Gas & Electric.
Last August, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to explore joining Pioneer. As part of the due diligence process, the County partnered with Pioneer to conduct an Impact Assessment Study to evaluate the financial feasibility of Pioneer serving unincorporated Nevada County.
At the Oct. 10 Board meeting, Pioneer representatives reported that the results from the independent study showed that due to a recent spike in renewable energy prices, the costs of purchasing power to serve Nevada County residents cannot be supported by the current rates charged to Pioneer customers. As a result, residents of Nevada County would likely have to pay higher rates than other communities served by Pioneer to support the higher energy costs. At this time, Pioneer does not know how much the higher rate might be.
Supervisors expressed disappointment that the project couldn’t move forward now, but said they look forward to possibly resuming talks in the spring when prices might be more favorable.
“We can look at this coming up another year probably,” said Supervisor Sue Hoek. “It’s not like this is the end of the conversation with Pioneer. This is something we can keep on moving on in the future.”
Pioneer Executive Director Don Eckert said Pioneer and the County have built a great relationship in the discussions so far.
Pioneer already serves Placer County, El Dorado County, Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Rocklin, Loomis, and Placerville. Pioneer will serve Grass Valley and Nevada City starting in January 2024. Pioneer manages the generation portion of customers’ electricity service while PG&E continues to deliver the power through its poles and lines. Pioneer’s Governing Board is comprised of elected representatives from each of its member agencies.