Anything but laid back: Los Angeles Community Choice on the move

Greetings from Los Angeles County where things are anything but laid back as we move quickly toward the launch of our LA County Community Choice Energy Program. Whether that program launches exclusively with the County’s unincorporated area and its 4,256,046 MWh of aggregated electrical power or it launches with the addition of any of the 82 cities eligible to join the program remains to be seen and will be determined in the next two to three months.

What started in May of 2014 as our South Bay Clean Power initiative targeting the 15 cities of our South Bay Cities Council of Governments, quickly grew to become a 20 city initiative when the 5 Westside cities of Santa Monica, Culver City, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Malibu joined our effort.

In June of 2014 we formed an ad hoc South Bay Clean Power working group made up of city staff members, elected representatives, heads of local organizations and other stakeholders from our different target cities. One of our first orders of business was to define our goals and objectives and here’s what we came up with:

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One of our key and top priority strategies was to reach out to the Los Angeles National Association of Electrical Contractors and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11 to ask them to partner with our effort, to join our Working Group and to help us create a labor friendly Community Choice Program. We knew we had tremendous common ground with our brothers and sisters on the labor and management sides and that their partnership was critical to achieving our goals and objectives for 100% renewable power and distributed energy resources. We also know that their subject matter expertise and experience would be invaluable in helping us create the kind of program design and elements that could maximize the potential for Community Choice energy.  We knew we had a potent and powerful partnership when they agreed to partner with us and support our initiative.

In September of 2015, after the 13th of our target cities had passed the resolution to participate in a CCA feasibility study (all unanimous votes) we went to our LA County 4th District Supervisor, Don Knabe, and asked for the funding to pay for the study. We also asked the Supervisor to champion the initiative. That’s exactly what Supervisor Knabe, a Republican, did, immediately partnering with his 3rd District colleague, Supervisor Shelia Kuehl, a Democrat, to offer the motion which passed 5-0 on September 15.

The LA County CCA Task Force began meeting in October of 2015. When no committees were formed or tasks assigned to attendees South Bay Clean Power stepped up and formed its own Advisory Committees on Economic & Workforce Development, Program Elements and Design, Governance and Technical, and Public Outreach to provide independent, third party analysis to the County Internal Services staff and their consultants who were working without the benefit of our input. Those Advisory Committees include staff members for four of the five Supervisors offices, city council members and city staff members from our target cities, members of labor unions and Labor Management Cooperative Committees, representatives of UCLA and USC, environmental and environmental justice organization leaders and renewable energy industry representatives.

At the County’s June 2016 CCA Task Force meeting the consultants from EES provided a PowerPoint preview of their Feasibility Study results and a draft of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) document.

The headline for the feasibility study news is that our LA County CCA can provide a baseline of 50% renewable energy for a lower rate than Southern California Edison charges for its current 24.3% Renewable Power Standard:

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The study says there is more than enough renewable energy supply available and that our CCA can offer 100% renewable power to customers at just one cent more per kilowatt hour.

LA County’s ambitious schedule for the launch of the program calls for service to start phase I in January of 2017 rolling out to all of LA County’s municipal buildings in the unincorporated areas. Phase II is called for in July of 2017 and would add all the other ratepayers in the unincorporated area.

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As we enter the Independence Day holiday weekend, South Bay Clean Power is continuing to work directly with the Supervisors, staff, and our Working Group partners to create a JPA governance that provides each of our participating cities with a seat and a vote on the organization’s Board of Directors.

We are confident that we will be successful in coming to an equitable agreement with the County of Los Angeles that will allow 8-10 of our South Bay Clean Power cities to join the County’s unincorporated areas in launching Community Choice service for our municipal buildings in January of 2017 and then start rolling out service to our other customers beginning one year from now in July of 2017.

Over the course of the rest of this decade we expect all 82 eligible cities to join what will be the largest, most innovative, most renewably powered CCA in the United States of America.

Joe Galliani is the Founding Organizer of South Bay Los Angeles 350 Climate Action Group, the oldest chapter of 350.org in California. He can be reached at joe@southbaycleanpower.org

1 reply
  1. Paul Scott
    Paul Scott says:

    Joe,

    Excellent work! I am happy to hear Santa Monica is part of this effort.

    One question, how would an Edison customer such as I participate in this program? Give us a scenario or two based on real world situations. Do I merely make a phone call, or what?

    Reply

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