Andy Hartmann: We can do better by focusing locally on community power

Guest commentary

The jurisdictions that make up the Monterey Bay community have been asked to consider joining an emerging Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program known as Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP). A draft joint powers agreement has recently been circulated for immediate approval by our cities and counties.

IBEW Local 234 believes that a properly designed and implemented CCA presents an immense opportunity for the Monterey Bay community, with potential emphasis on our local environment, economy and the workforce that supports it. As a local nonprofit organization of well trained and highly skilled electrical workers, we are major stakeholders in the MBCP process and we see the potential of this new government organization to benefit not only our members but the community as a whole. As our 35th President John F. Kennedy is quoted as saying, “the rising tide lifts all the boats.”

There is great potential for a local CCA to drive significant new investments in local clean energy projects, deliver cost savings to those who need it most and better our environment. However, we do not believe that the current draft JPA agreement is sufficient enough to ensure that MBCP delivers the full breadth of benefits to our community.

It is important to note that the JPA agreements adopted by other California CCAs are structured much differently and make stronger commitments to achieving local benefits than the agreement proposed by MBCP. These model JPA agreements include:

• common-sense governance structures that provide more equitable representation of all affected ratepayers;

• structures such as Community Advisory Committees that ensure meaningful community involvement, and

• strong commitments to sustainability by delivering social, economic and environmental benefits to the local community.

It is our position that the draft JPA agreement should be amended to be more in line with the best practices established by the leaders in California’s CCA movement, including Marin County, Sonoma County and Alameda County.

Local 234 believes that a stronger MBCP JPA agreement is in the best interest of all ratepayers and stakeholders in the Monterey Bay community. Stronger foundational language would ensure the greatest benefits to our local economy, community, and environment. Now is the time to act. The draft JPA agreement needs to be amended to ensure that the MBCP CCA program delivers on its commitment to the Monterey Bay area.

Local 234 is urging local elected officials who are weighing the MBCP proposal to take a strong position of support for a more equitable and inclusive governance structure, include our community with a Community Advisory Committee, and include a stronger commitment to prioritizing local green projects. We also urge everyone in the community to call your city and county leaders to advocate for a better CCA. Let them know you support amending the draft JPA agreement. We can do better.

Andy Hartmann is business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 234.

Andy Hartmann: We can do better by focusing locally on community power, by Andy Hartmann, Monterey Herald, February 18, 2017.

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