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Sonoma County Gazette
Monte Rio Musings by Chuck Ramsey

Clean Energy Moves Forward
in Sonoma County

Aug 31, 2017
by Chuck Ramsey


First off, the SMART Train has finally arrived. Anyone that has ridden the train is impressed. The views and the comfort are great, plus there’s food, beer, wine, and wifi. Maybe not the fastest way to get to the City, but it’s good to know that one Clipper Card can get you on a bus in Monte Rio, on a SMART train in Railroad Square, on a Ferry in Larkspur, and then you are in downtown San Francisco. With additional train cars, parking spaces, and extended scheduled service, SMART has potential.

Second, Sonoma Clean Power is offering incredible deals on new electric vehicles. This year the promotion includes more cars and more dealers to choose from. The prices are pre-negotiated so the hassle factor is gone. How much can you save? How about getting a $30,000 car for under $10,000? Would you believe for under $5,000 if you are low income? Tired of standing still commuting on Hwy 101 watching a few HOV lane drivers whiz by? That could be you! My husband and I test drove EVs recently. The dealerships were so busy, finding someone to sell you a car was a task in and of itself. I was surprised at how well these smaller cars handled and rode. The acceleration is great with no lag time. The VW e-Golf we test drove had self-park. You push a button, let go of the steering wheel, and it parallel parks. 

Technology has come a long way in the past few years. One important factor of course is the battery range. The driving range can vary from around 85 miles to 240. There are charging stations available for longer trips and “charge cards” you can get to get you where you need to be. Most cars also let you know if you will run out of power before you reach your destination and where the last charging station is located. I think I can handle this! One disclaimer that you won’t find on Sonoma Clean Power website or Press Democrat articles is the VW e-Golf only has around an 85 mile range. The articles incorrectly state a 125 mile range, which will be on the next e-Golf coming out any time now, but it is not currently available, and is not part of the current promotion. The promotion also includes two free residential charging stations. Aside from Sonoma Clean Power, our Northern Sonoma County Air District has also contributed to the promotion. The promotions end 10/31 so now is the time to make the move to go green and save big. Go to for more info.

In a related development, I just purchased a River EcoFlow Mobile Power Station. I got mine in pre-production throughI ndiegogo, but it is now available for retail. This is basically an 11 pound stylish battery that outputs up to 300 watts A/C and 200 watts D/C. It will hold a full charge for a year. I had lights on during our last short blackout in August. Of course it charges all your mobile devices as well. It takes the place of an expensive large heavy noisy gas powered generator and it will be great for camping. My small electric heater and small electric blanket are ready for tent camping in the Sierras this fall. It’s apparently great for charging drones as well. It can also come with solar panels if you really want to be off the grid in the middle of nowhere. Life is good.

Back home, we are making progress in the River as well. Our streets are cleaned up, our roads are beginning to get repaved, and our local businesses are doing well thanks to the incredible influx of tourists this year. It’s been a fun and busy summer. While we continue to work on several initiatives, the next major task for Monte Rio is solving our wastewater issues. The time has come to deal with this. We are now coming up against state enforced deadlines. If we come up with our own local acceptable solutions, we will most likely have an easier and less expensive outcome. Imagine if the Pink, our historic watering hole, could be reopened. Imagine if our homes and businesses could renovate and expand. Imagine a downtown Monte Rio that came back to some semblance of its former glory days. I will be providing more information on our wastewater solutions next month, but know that mandatory questionnaires will be going out in late 2018 from the County asking you what type of septic system (or redwood box) you have. It seems that permitted existing septic systems will be tested every five years, and the rest of us will need to do some serious upgrading. Hopefully there will be low cost funds available to assist with this endeavor. It is a game changer for Monte Rio. We can do it right, and we will.

Vacation Wonderland. We just keep getting better.


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