By Monica Prado
Images: Lean Energy US
Apr 05, 2016 (San Diego) – Neighbors from different communities are setting up house parties to get involved in a movement to transform San Diego into a Community Choice Energy city. There have been nine so far and the idea is to keep doing it all year round. The last house party was in Clairemont, and residents learned how the city can make its own decisions on energy. To have such autonomy, city council members must vote on an ordinance, which will set in place a nonprofit electricity provider called Community Choice Energy (CCE).
This local provider will be responsible for determining the power sources (i.e. wind, solar, geothermal) and establishing electricity rates, using public meetings as a decision making process, which favors residents and businesses participation. It will perform two out of five functions now executed by the privately owned local company, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The Community Choice Energy will buy power and set rates while SDG&E will continue managing the infrastructure (transmission, distribution and maintenance) and the customer service (billing). “It is truly a choice”, explained Pete Hasapopoulos during the house party, emphasizing that Community Choice is about local control and making decisions on clean energy. Pete is the organizer for the Sierra Club My Generation campaign here in San Diego. He is promoting house party meetings in neighborhoods as an opportunity to engage residents in the process of establishing a CCE in San Diego.
San Diego is already on the path to be a Community Choice Energy city. The first feasibility study was presented in June 2015, which gave the city ‘thumbs up’ to continue pursuing CCE implementation. During the house party in Clairemont, Pete highlighted that Community Choice Energy is intertwined with the Climate Action Plan
(CAP), approved last December by the City Council. The Plan, a legally binding commitment, establishes that the city of San Diego will be 100% clean energy by 2035. “We need to grow our base and house parties are by far the best tool to grow the number of supporters of Community Choice”, said Pete, mentioning that customers in Lancaster and Sonoma are already choosing 100% clean energy plans offered by their Community Choice local providers.
In 2002, the state legislature enacted Assembly Bill 117, which allows cities and counties to establish a local electricity provider in order to buy power on behalf of their population. It is called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) but known statewide as Community Choice Energy (CCE). Since then, three CCE`s are fully active in California: Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power and Lancaster Choice Energy.
According to LEAN Energy US
(Local Energy Aggregation Network), San Francisco and San Mateo have already decided on implementing theirs in 2016 and another 20 cities and counties are in process of either establishing a CCE or investigating its feasibility. SF is taking its first customers in May and San Mateo (the county and its cities) is planning to be operational later this year. Besides California, six other states are implementing CCE, among them New York and Ohio.