Green-Energy Choice Comes to Agoura

The City of Agoura Hills said will take part in the L.A. County Community Choice Aggregation program, a green energy plan that gives residential and business customers the chance to buy energy from sustainable sources at purportedly lower costs.

At the Nov. 8 Agoura Hills City Council meeting, four of the five council members voted in favor of giving residents the choice of buying their electricity from the new government-run utility that focuses on clean energy sources, or from Southern California Edison, the traditional supplier of electricity to the Southland.

“I wanted everybody in our city to have the chance at alternative energy. People want to participate but don’t know how to do it,” Councilmember Harry Schwarz said.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors launched the energy buying co-op earlier this year and Calabasas became the first city to adopt the plan. It will offer businesses and residents an opportunity to pool their buying power and purchase electricity that comes from suppliers other than Southern California Edison.

SCE lines will be used to distribute the power to customers whether they stay with the utility or not.

County representative Gary Gero said approximately 80 percent of California could be supplied with electricity through the new agency. The program is already humming along in Northern California, he said.

Cities can choose how much of the so-called clean energy they would like to purchase.

Gero said that on average, cities see a more than 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when using the community choice program.

“Renewable energy is the future,” former state Sen. Fran Pavley told the Agoura council at its meeting last week.

Commercial and industrial companies will receive the first distributions. Residents will get theirs by the end of 2018.

“There is so much upside at minimal risk,” Agoura Hills resident Deborah Lopez said. “It allows us to tap into clean energy options. Collectively we will make a difference.

“Rarely do we get a chance to be part of a global movement,” Lopez said. “People of Agoura Hills will be grateful.”

Councilmember Bill Koehler warned that the “devil’s in the details” and said city’s presence on a joint powers authority governing the program must be strong so it can give direction in the operation of the utility.

Mayor Denis Weber voted against the new plan.

“I don’t have enough information,” Weber said. “The cost (reducing) estimates aren’t enough to make it worthwhile. There are too many gaps.”

The city was encouraged to make a decision on the matter by Dec. 27 to avoid paying startup fees for joining the collective.

But Weber called it a “rush to judgment” and preferred waiting to commit.

Utility impact

The impact of the Community Choice collectives on SCE’s bottom line remains unclear. SCE doesn’t make money on the sale of energy for its customers. Most of the power the utility purchases and provides to its customers is offered without a mark-up. Edison’s profit comes from the delivery portion of its business, and the utility will continue to be the sole transmitter of power regardless of where customers buy it from.

While concerned about the new competition, Edison believes there will be other revenue opportunities in the future, as in the growing demand to provide power for electric vehicles.

Agoura customers who join the county co-op will retain their SCE meter and monthly billing. The new bill, however, will be separated into charges for the energy that comes from the collective—and charges for the distribution and transmission of power that comes from Edison.

The price customers will pay for co-op power versus SCE power has not been determined.

The Community Choice program is flexible, Gero said. Besides giving customers the ability to opt out of the program and return to SCE, cities can choose how much green energy they would like to buy, signing up for 33, 50 or 100 percent of energy coming from sustainable resources.

Green-Energy Choice Comes to Agoura, by Stephanie Bertholdo, The Acorn, November 15, 2017.

Beverly Hills Considers Community Choice Energy

Beverly Hills City Council members unanimously expressed interest in joining Los Angeles Community Choice Energy at its study session on Nov. 7, a step toward delivering residents and businesses the option to use renewable energy at potentially lower rates.

“I think we’re late to the party, but I guess better late than never,” Councilman John Mirisch said, alluding to the growing list of cities, including several in Los Angeles County, that have already decided to join a community choice energy program.

A Community Choice Energy program – also known as Community Choice Aggregation – allows local governments to purchase renewable energy. The energy is distributed with existing utilities, such as those provided by Southern California Edison. Customers can opt out of the program and choose to remain with their existing utility.

Cities banding together to form a community choice energy program can often negotiate rates lower than the rates customers pay their existing utility.

Community choice energy programs are allowable under the 2002 passage of AB 117. They can be operated by a joint powers agreement, a single city or a commercially managed service. At least eight Community Choice Energy programs have been launched in California since 2010.

The Sonoma County-based Sonoma Clean Power community choice energy program, using 36 percent renewable energy, has been able to provide rates that are approximately two cents per kilowatt-hour lower than those provided by the existing utility for its base level of electricity.

According to a county report, the only noticeable change customers will notice is a line item on their utility bills where the community choice energy’s electric generation charge replaces Southern California Edison.

The cost-savings may be negligible, but Beverly Hills could join a growing number of cities throughout the state embracing alternative energy sources.

“The worthwhile objective is a more sustainable energy source,” Councilman Robert Wunderlich said.

He compared the city potentially joining the county’s community choice energy program to the progressive legislation the council has enacted to strictly regulate smoking within Beverly Hills.

“We should be among the leaders in moving in this direction,” Wunderlich said, referring to sustainable energy.

The West Hollywood City Council voted last month to join the county’s program. Council members cited the program’s financial backing by the county, and its potential to become the biggest community choice energy program in the state, leading to greater purchasing power, as advantages to joining the county. Rolling Hills Estates, Calabasas and South Pasadena are among the other cities that have joined Los Angeles Community Choice Energy.

Beverly Hills and West Hollywood also considered South Bay Clean Power, a grassroots initiative to gather a group of smaller cities for a community choice energy program.

County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl has been a supporter of the program. In June, she was appointed to represent the county on the Los Angeles Community Choice Energy Authority board of directors.

The Beverly Hills Public Works Commission had previously taken a 2-2 vote over whether to recommend that the council consider joining the county’s community choice program. One commissioner was absent. The commission’s chairman, Jeff Wolfe, said members were divided over the value of integrating sustainable energy.

The county program is holding an open enrollment period through the end of the year to allow cities to join. It will start delivering power in January.

Mayor Lili Bosse said an emphasis on renewable energy ties into her Healthy City initiatives.

“Clearly renewable energy is at the forefront of that,” she said.

Bosse echoed Mirisch’s comment that Beverly Hills should have pursued a community choice energy program sooner. More than two years ago, the City Council voted to allow the city to take part in a community choice energy feasibility study.

“We had to do our due diligence, and I feel that we really have,” Bosse said.

Beverly Hills Considers Community Choice Energy, by Luke Harold, Beverly Press, November 9, 2017.

Lancaster Choice Energy – A Sustainable Energy Solution for the City of Lancaster

Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE), the City of Lancaster’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, is rooted in the City’s innovative efforts to promote renewable energy and become the nation’s first net-zero energy city. While the City of Lancaster originally set a goal to become a net-zero city by 2020, as of 2017 the City already has achieved net-zero status, purchasing and generating more renewable energy as a City than it consumes.

“At the City of Lancaster, we are ambitious in our efforts to find and implement sustainable energy solutions,” says City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We’ve worked hard to implement effective renewable energy programs for our community. Implementing a Community Choice Aggregation program to help achieve our goal of becoming a net-zero city was an opportunity we refused to miss.”

CCA programs enable local governments to purchase and generate electricity for residents, businesses and municipal facilities within a community. Through LCE, the City of Lancaster can purchase and generate more renewable energy for its community than the local investor-owned utility.

“The City of Lancaster initiated its efforts to form a CCA program as a method to increase clean energy consumption in the City. The City was eager to put cleaner energy into the grid, and CCA provided the control we needed to purchase and generate the amount of renewable energy we wanted for our community,” says Parris.

In 2013, the City of Lancaster initiated the CCA implementation process with a detailed, two-phase CCA feasibility study.

Following the feasibility study, completed in the second quarter of 2014, the City prepared a draft implementation plan for public review and feedback that May. Later that month, the City Council voted to adopt an ordinance allowing the City to form a CCA program and submit the final implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

In October 2014, the CPUC confirmed LCE’s registration as a Community Choice Aggregator in California.

LCE launched on May 1, 2015, for all municipal accounts, and began serving energy customers citywide on October 1, 2015. At the end of 2015, the City finished the year with a net position of $1.9 million.

LCE currently offers ratepayers in the City of Lancaster three options: Clear Choice, Smart Choice and Personal Choice. LCE’s Clear Choice rate plan provides ratepayers with electricity purchased and generated from 35 percent renewable energy sources while the Smart Choice rate plan provides electricity from 100 percent renewable energy sources. The Personal Choice rate plan is geared towards those who generate their own solar or wind power. Ratepayers who choose the Personal Choice option may sell excess energy they generate to LCE and LCE will offset the ratepayers’ power cost. Lancaster residents are automatically signed up for the Clear Choice plan and have the option to opt out of LCE services altogether if they choose to continue service with the local investor-owned utility.

Since LCE’s launch, the City has exceeded its sustainable energy goals and now purchases and generates more renewable energy than it consumes. In 2016, the City announced completion of the Western Antelope Dry Ranch solar power facility. The solar power facility provides 10 megawatts of solar energy for LCE. Without CCA implementation in the City of Lancaster, building the solar power facility would not have been possible.

With LCE successfully established and operational, the City of Lancaster aims to spread its expertise and knowledge about CCA program implementation to surrounding cities that wish to implement their own CCA program. In 2016, the City of Lancaster, in partnership with the City of San Jacinto, formed the California Choice Energy Authority, a hybrid Joint Powers Authority (JPA) designed to guide cities in California through the CCA implementation process. CCEA’s hybrid JPA model allows cities to form a CCA without the risks of forming a single-entity CCA and without sacrificing local control by joining a traditional JPA.

“Implementing Lancaster Choice Energy in the City of Lancaster was not an easy task. Gaining first-hand experience in the CCA implementation process by establishing Lancaster Choice Energy has given City of Lancaster staff members the opportunity to become CCA implementation experts. The California Choice Energy Authority is our effort to assist our neighbors in the difficult CCA implementation process,” says Parris.

In its three years of operation, LCE has saved customers over $1 million dollars on their generation costs. LCE has also collaborated with several agencies including the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) to support their bus electrification efforts. AVTA is in the process of electrifying its entire bus fleet by 2018. LCE is also working with the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District to expand the City’s electric vehicle infrastructure.

Lancaster has seen positive outcomes from the operation of LCE. A net position of $2.5 million is anticipated for the end of 2017. LCE will also repay the original Line of Credit offered by the City’s General Fund in the FY 17-18 budget.

“Through LCE,” says Parris, “our City Council has aggressively pursued programs to help our community, reduce energy consumption and remove greenhouse gases.”

Sample programs that LCE has been able to implement include:

  • small business programs that offer customized rate schedules, private energy efficiency analysis and localized customer service;
  • an economic development incentive program to increase jobs, attract new business and create local development;
  • procuring and retrofitting to LED 19,000 city street lights, allowing for optimal operation and efficiency of the lighting system;
  • a 10MW local solar project, creating local jobs and development;
  • and transit electrification projects such as the installation of 34 electric charging stations and a partnership with local transit authority to be the first transit agency to go 100 percent electric by the end of 2018.

“By bringing energy decisions closer to home,” says Parris, “Lancaster Choice Energy provides those who live and work in the City of Lancaster with a far greater say in how their community approaches power generation, energy conservation and sustainability.”

For more information, please visit www.lancasterchoiceenergy.com.

Lancaster Choice Energy – A Sustainable Energy Solution for the City of Lancaster, by Karen Villasenor, Public CEO, November 7, 2017.

Claremont Could Be Among First in LA County to Join Program to Provide Its Residents Green Energy

Claremont residents and businesses could soon have an option when it comes to purchasing energy.

Claremont City Council members on Tuesday, Nov. 14, will have a final vote on a proposed ordinance calling for entering a joint powers agreement with the Los Angeles Community Choice Energy program, or LACCE, and authorizing the implementation of a community choice aggregation program in the city.

Under community choice aggregation, or CCA programs, California communities and cities can come together as a group and purchase energy on the wholesale power market and then sell it to customers within their jurisdiction, according to a city staff report.

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the Council voted 3-2, giving the proposal preliminary approval. Councilmen Sam Pedroza, Corey Calaycay and Joseph Lyons voted for the proposed ordinance. Councilman Opanyi Nasiali and Mayor Larry Schroeder cast no votes.

Since that meeting, he’s spoken with representatives of cities who have joined the program and some energy experts, Pedroza said.

Joining LACCE would give Claremont residents an option to purchase electricity coming from sustainable sources at a lower rate, he said.

In addition, “On a more macro level,” Pedorza said, “I think it also drives large utilities to be a little more aggressive on green energy.”

Schroeder sees the possibility of joining LACCE differently.

“Certainly each council member tries to keep an open mind,” Schroeder said. “Right now I still have several concerns and questions.”

Schroeder would like to see more of the details about the program in writing and a financial analysis, he said. He also has concerns about the possible financial impacts that could result from customers leaving utility companies such as Southern California Edison, which provides electrical service to Claremont.

“Being on the ground floor makes me uneasy,” Schroeder said.

If the proposed ordinance is approved, Claremont would be among the first cities to join the LACCE joint powers authority, a community choice aggregation program established by Los Angeles County earlier this year.

Several cities including Alhambra, Calabasas, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and West Hollywood have all joined the LACCE program and another 20 more are expected to join before the end of the year, said Gary Gero, L.A. County’s chief sustainability officer.

CCA programs make it possible for customers to have electrical service at rates that are lower than those offered by IOU’s — investor-owned utility companies — such as Edison, according to a report titled “The Promises and Challenges of Community Choice Aggregation in California.””

“Most of the time, CCAs are able to provide lower rates for the same amount of renewable energy, compared to their affiliated (investor-owned utilities),” according to the report by J.R. DeShazo, principal investigator and director of the Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, and Julien Gattaciecca, lead author and researcher, and Kelly Trumbull, co-author and graduate student researcher

“The recent entrance of CCAs into the energy market allows them to benefit from a long decline of falling wholesale renewable energy costs,” the report reads. “In contrast, (investor-owned utilities) have long been required by regulators to purchase renewable energy, including when it was far more expensive than it is today. This more competitive retail marketplace can only be beneficial for Californian’s ratepayers, who will see a decrease in electricity rates and an increasing amount of products they can choose from.”

L.A. County’s program

More than two years ago L.A. County personnel began taking steps leading to creating a CCA program to serve the unincorporated areas of L.A. County, Gero said.

By 2016 the required pieces were in place and energy distribution was set to begin in January of this year but the L.A. County Board of Supervisors determined the program should be opened up to other cities, Gero said. The majority of Los Angeles County cities, including Claremont, were invited to join with the exception of a handful of cities that have municipal utilities.

L.A. County representatives contacted Claremont and presented the idea to city administrators who then took it to to the City Council in May, said Roger Bradley, the city’s community services director. That led to a number of community meetings where the program details were shared with the public.

If the proposed ordinance is approved, Claremont customers could realize a savings of about 5.4 percent compared with Edison’s rates, according to a city staff report.

“This rate would provide an equivalent portfolio of renewable energy to SCE,” the staff report reads.

Another LACCE option could result in a savings of 4.1 percent, according to the staff report.

Representatives of the California Choice Energy Authority, or CCEA, a CCA program open to cities across the state also approached the city. That program currently includes Lancaster, San Jacinto and Pico Rivera and is looking to grow to include about 10 cities, said Jason Caudle, deputy city manager of Lancaster.

There are differences in each program.

Under the CCEA the city would set rates, have a greater share of revenue to work for local customer programs but it would also need to hire staff with a background in energy purchasing, Bradley said.

L.A County’s model involves creating a board, which would have among its responsibilities to set rates and policy. Each city would have one representative on the board and one vote. In addition, with the help of $10 million for start-up costs from Los Angeles County, LACCE will hire the staff needed to make energy purchases and run the program, Gero said.

Under the LACCE program revenue from the program goes back into it, but some funds can also be used for energy-related programs.

“One of the nice things about having a CCA is you can design your own customer programs,” Gero said. “Your not in a one size fits all.”

Some cities may want customer programs that involve rebates for energy savings or for solar panel installation, he said.

At this point what customer programs will be offered has not been determined, Gero said.Such decisions and others will be made once representatives of the participating cities have been named and begin meeting as a board after the start of the new year.

Under the CCEA the city would set rates, have a greater share of revenue to work for local customer programs but it would also need to hire staff with a background in energy purchasing, Bradley said.

LACCE, however, comes with certain advantages.

“You have a turn-key model if you join LACCE,” Bradley said, whereas the CCEA involves “a little higher risk” and comes with increased costs for the city.

The first CCA in California

Although CCA’s are just taking off in Southern California they have existed for some time in other states and Northern California. The first CCA in Californa is MCE Clean Energy. The not-for-profit was established in 2008 and began distributing energy in 2010 to customers in Marin County.

“We started with 5,000 customers,” said Jamie Tuckey, director of public affairs for MCE Clean Energy. “We now have over 250,000 customers.”

At this point all of Marin and Napa counties are part of the program along with the cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, LaFayette, San Pablo, Richmond and Walnut Creek but those will be joined by nine more in Spring 2018 bringing the number of customers to 500,000, Tuckey said.

The company offers three energy program. One offers energy from 50 percent renewable resources and is about $33 cheaper than the local utility company’s service, she said. For $4 more than what the local utility charges customers can have energy from 100 percent renewable sources. A third option costs customers about $30 more than the utility company’s service but the source of the energy is a local solar energy farm.

“It’s really all about choice,” Tuckey said.

Through these option customers are able to reduce their carbon output, Tuckey said, an important point since a mission of the MCE Clean Energy has been “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Under LACCE customers would have three tiers of green energy and eventually would have a fourth that will give customers 100 percent locally generated renewable energy, Gero said.

LACCE plans to begin providing energy early next year to Los Angeles County government buildings and begin providing service to commercial customers in the summer of 2018 and launching residential customer service in the fall and winter of 2018, Gero said.

Should Claremont join LACCE, Claremont customers who would like to remain with Edison could do so but would have to opt out of the program. Customers in the LACCE program would gradually be phased in starting with city buildings sometime in March, Bradley said.

The role of Edison

Distribution of the energy would take place through Edison infrastructure, Gero said.

“In cities where CCAs are adopted, SCE continues to deliver the electricity through its transmission and distribution system and provide meter reading, billing and reliability services for CCA customers,” according to an email from Edison. “It is important to note that while CCAs purchase or generate electricity for their residents, CCA formation should not impact SCE’s business, given SCE does not profit from energy sales.”

One of Mayor Larry Schroeder’s questions is tied to Edison, its long-term energy contracts and any potential financial impact on customers who remain with the company.

Edison has a similar concern.

“Southern California Edison supports customer choice, if it is done in a way that ensures costs are not shifted from departing customers to remaining SCE customers,” the email reads.

For many years state leaders, regulators and energy companies have invested in clean energy and the necessary infrastructure to deliver it, according to Edison’s email

To maintain stable clean energy costs utility companies entered into long-term energy contracts that are generally paid off in the course of 20 years, the email reads. The long-term contracts, reviewed and approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, have “helped to develop a robust and competitive market for renewable power in California, lower prices for renewable power, and allow California energy to become cleaner and greener.”

As Edison sees it, the execution of the existing state law, adopted in 2002, allowing the creation of CCA program “is flawed,” the email reads.

“If no changes are made to current regulations, electricity customers could end up paying extra in their monthly bills for clean energy contracts and other power that was purchased for other customers. This is not sustainable and the (state Public Utilities Commission) has acknowledged the problem and opened a cost-allocation proceeding to address this issue,” the email reads.

The state Public Utilities Commission will consider different ways to approach the concern and expects to have a proposed solution in July of 2018, according to information on the commission’s website.

Claremont Could Be Among First in LA County to Join Program to Provide Its Residents Green Energy, by Monica Rodriguez, Daily Bulletin, November 11, 2017.

Ventura County Will Explore Joining L.A. Venture to Create Renewable Energy

Ventura County officials will explore teaming up with Los Angeles County in a venture to produce renewable energy and slow down climate change, county supervisors decided Tuesday.

Under state law, local governments can establish their own organizations to generate and distribute power. The intent is to boost the amount of power produced from renewable sources, such as wind and the sun.

The option was one of several the Ventura County Board of Supervisors weighed now that a joint government-run program with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties does not appear to be feasible.

Senior Deputy Executive Officer Susan Hughes said the Legislature is requiring all energy producers to procure 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. The goal is 50 percent by 2030, she said.

Those producers may either be the large utilities such as Southern California Edison or the local governments that establish alternative programs to produce power.

The Los Angeles County government is asking the officials in Ventura County to make a decision by Jan. 1, Hughes said. But the Ventura County supervisors were not ready to make a commitment until they were convinced that promises made by the larger county would materialize.

“I have to have the evidence in hand,” said Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett. “I have to be convinced it is reliable.”

Voting 4-0, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors asked County Executive Officer Mike Powers to return with a report on the potential for such an alliance and whether the Jan. 1 deadline could be moved to a later date.

Bennett along with Supervisors Linda Parks, Peter Foy and Kelly Long voted to direct Powers to conduct the investigation. Supervisor John Zaragoza was absent for the vote.

Parks was the strongest proponent of exploring the alliance with Los Angeles County.

“It does seem to be the big game in town,” she said.

The board is exploring the idea in the wake of a feasibility study that showed forming an energy program for the tri-counties area would not work under 24 different scenarios. Critics say the financial assumptions in that study were too conservative and have called for additional investigation

 Estimates showed startup costs would total $524 million to get to the mark of 33 percent and $575 million for the 50 percent mark, Hughes said.

She said Southern California Edison hit the 28 percent mark last year and is projected to achieve 41 percent by 2020. The giant utility is the only major provider of electricity in Ventura County.

Foy questioned why it made any sense to form an independent organization to sell energy when Edison is achieving those numbers.

“This sounds a little risky,” he said.

Bennett said he didn’t want to close the door. He saw it as “good government” if the county could come up with an appropriate competitive model to Edison that would provide lower rates and a speedier conversion to renewable energy.

L.A. County has invited southern Santa Barbara County and Ventura County to participate in the energy venture proposed for more than 1 million residents of unincorporated Los Angeles County. It has also invited 84 cities in Los Angeles County to participate.

Officials from Santa Barbara County said they are exploring joining the Los Angeles County venture, but also are investigating the potential for a small model of their own.

Ventura County Will Explore Joining L.A. Venture to Create Renewable Energy, by Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star, October 25, 2017.

Council Cautiously Approves Energy Alternative for the City

The city council approved membership into a brand-new countywide energy alternative, but not without reservations.

The Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program is a legal structure that allows cities and counties to procure energy independent of Southern California Edison and allow for a higher percentage of renewable energy. The CCA’s other goals include creating clean energy jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing electricity bills and providing more local control, according to the city.

The CCA works like this: the local government or a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) gets the power, while investor-owned utilities like Edison continue to maintain the power lines and bill the customers, according to the city.

Customers living in communities who enter into a CCA program are automatically enrolled, but can opt out at any time. At the May 23 council meeting, Director of Community Services Roger Bradley said that, based on previous CCA models, 95 percent of customers who join the program stay on board.

The council heard pitches from two programs—the Los Angeles County Community Choice Energy (LACCE), which is a countywide authority gathering cities to create a program, and the California Choice Energy Authority (CCEA), another independent program.

In a feasibility study, which included Claremont, it was found that under the LACCE program, rates are expected to be 5.4 percent lower than the basic Edison rate at 28 percent renewable energy.

At 50 percent renewable energy, the LACCE will be cheaper than Edison by about 4.1 percent, but at 100 percent renewable energy, the LACCE will be more expensive than Edison by 6.3 percent, according to the city.

LACCE will be governed by a board of directors, including one representative from each city in the program. Claremont has a deadline of December 27 to be part of the decision-making process for forming the LACCE. Services should start between January and June 2018. The first official meeting of the board was in August and included the cities of West Hollywood, Rolling Hills, South Pasadena and Calabasas.

The council was concerned with the unknown aspects of joining LACCE and spent hours asking LACCE representative Bill Carnahan and CCEA representative and Lancaster Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle questions about the programs.

Public comment was mostly positive, with six residents offering support.

Resident Jim Belna was against it, likening the discussion right after losing the water trial as “someone who stuck his hand into a running garbage disposal and trying to figure out whether to stick his second hand in.” He emphasized it would be irresponsible for a board of councilmembers with no energy experience to have buying power over electricity.

Mayor Larry Schroeder was specifically concerned with topics such as when the state will eventually mandate 100 percent renewable energy, thereby rendering the CCA useless. Other concerns included whether the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will be involved, what the penalties would be for cities who opt out and who will be responsible for a long-term contract with Edison, if the city decides to join LACCE.

Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali understood the benefits of the program, but shared those concerns, amending a saying from his youth—“Nothing is so good that nothing bad can come out if it.”

Councilmember Joe Lyons, who supports joining the program, called the other councilmembers to task, claiming in part that entering into a CCA fulfills the city’s sustainability agenda.

“This is one of those line-in-the-sand moments for me, this really is a defining moment for the city in our efforts to achieve the kind of goals we set as a city eight years ago,” Mr. Lyons said.

At the May 23 meeting, the council asked that the Community and Human Services Commission play an active role throughout the process to determine if the city should join the program. With the deadline now just eight weeks away, the council put Councilmember Sam Pedroza in charge of gathering more information.

In the end, the council reached a compromise: it would approve the first reading of the ordinance, and between now and the second reading, Mr. Pedroza will reach out to cities who are already part of LACCE to gather input.

He will report back to the council, and the ordinance will be pulled for discussion during its second reading. The amended motion was approved, 3-2, with Mr. Nasiali and Mr. Schroeder voting no.

November 8 election date finalized

The council adopted the ordinance moving up the next election date to November 8, 2018. The move is in response to Senate Bill 415, which mandated local elections run in tandem with larger elections to curb low voter turnout.

The deal means the current council’s terms will be shortened by four months. The council discussed the issue during the previous meeting, and narrowly voted to bring the ordinance forth for further consideration. The council approved the ordinance 3-2, with Mr. Nasiali and Corey Calaycay voting no.

The next council meeting is November 14.

Council Cautiously Approves Energy Alternative for the City, by Matthew Bramlett, Claremont-Courier, October 26, 2017.

City Weighs Benefits of Buying, Selling Its Own Electricity

Tuesday, the (La Cañada) council discussed the possibility of entering a Community Choice Aggregation program that would allow local governments to purchase and sell electricity to residents instead of relying on traditional investor-owned utility procurement, such as Southern California Edison.

Carl Alameda, the city’s director of administrative services, explained there are currently two different CCA programs La Cañada could join. The county’s Los Angeles Community Choice Energy program would create a joint powers authority for member cities that would be governed by a board of directors comprising one representative from each city. Municipalities must decide whether to enroll by a Dec. 27 opt-in deadline for inclusion in the program that would begin in January 2018. The cities of South Pasadena, Alhambra, Sierra Madre, Calabasas and Rolling Hills have signed up to be members.

Read more by clicking the link below.

City Weighs Benefits of Buying, Selling Its Own Electricity, by Sara Cardine, Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2017.

Lancaster (California) Is “Solar Power Capital Of The Universe”

Lancaster, California, produces more solar power per capita than any other city in the state. Devastated by the recession of 2009, when unemployment rose to 17%, the city has made its commitment to solar the basis of its economic rebirth. Today it is home to the BYD truck and bus factory, which just finished an expansion that tripled its original size.

Lancaster mayor Rex Parris calls his city “the solar capital of the universe.” Described by some as “an arrogant bully and an unstoppable control freak,” the three-term Republican has been an unflagging champion of solar power. “Had it not been for his leadership, we would not be on this journey,” said Lancaster city manager Mark Bozigian.

Lancaster Mayor, Rex Parris.

Today, housing prices have rebounded and unemployment is less than 6%. Parris says his clean energy policies have created 1,000 new jobs within the city, which sits north of Los  Angeles and south of Bakersfield. “I think Lancaster is a fantastic story about clean energy and job creation, and it’s a great American story about reinventing,” said Jeff Tannenbaum, chair of sPower, a solar developer that has worked with Lancaster on several large-scale solar projects. “The Republican mayor has reinvented Lancaster as a clean energy capital.”

SolarCity, the company started by Elon Musk’s cousins and which was subsequently purchased by Tesla, has partnered with Lancaster to install rooftop solar systems on virtually all municipal buildings and schools in the city. Lancaster also changed its building code to require that new homes include rooftop solar, the first city in America to take that bold step. Not only is BYD the largest employer in the city, it also partnered with KB Home to build affordable homes that feature solar panels, battery storage, and LED lighting.

City manager Bozigian believes that local governments have all the tools they need to address climate change. “The mayor is in charge of building permits. Not the federal government,” he says. When Mayor Parris speaks about the city’s clean energy campaign, he does so with a photo of Donald Trump nearby. He points to the photo and tells his audience, “He doesn’t issue building permits. I do.”

The permitting process for rooftop solar systems can be lengthy with lots of delays built in. Not in Lancaster. Today, approvals take about 15 minutes. “It’s so business friendly here, it’s not even funny,” says Jim Cahill, a vice president at SolarCity.

The city made a decision to buy its electricity from solar power plants built within the city itself. That not only provides jobs for local workers, it also lowers the cost of electricity for city residents. That initiative has been so successful, Lancaster is helping other Southern California cities set up similar programs. Now Mayor Parris has his sights on creating a regional market for locally produced solar power. Together with several surrounding communities, Lancaster is planning to build a transmission like to deliver clean energy to Los Angeles.

“If other cities, or this state, had leaders like Mayor Parris and the Lancaster City Council, they would all be doing it,” said Bozigian. “You need to have guts, and you need to be decisive. You need to know what’s right, get the information you need, make a decision and do it.”

Parris may be unusual for someone who calls himself a Republican, but he is not alone. Halfway across the country, Georgetown, Texas, is committed to being a city that runs entirely on renewable energy. Republican mayor Dale Ross says it’s not about ideology or politics. Ross, who is a trained CPA, says it’s about dollars and cents.

“The revolution is here,” he says. “And I’m a good little Republican, a right-wing fiscal conservative, but when it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do. How is anybody going to compete with wind and solar?” he asks.

When the city started considering its options for long-term electricity in 2015, coal was simply too expensive and natural gas providers were only willing to lock in prices for 7 years. Wind farm suppliers, though, were willing to make a 25 year commitment. Now city residents pay about 25% less for their electricity than they did before.

Ross says Donald Trump was his 8th or 9th choice among the Republican candidates for president. “When Trump was campaigning, he was talking about clean coal and we’re going to bring coal jobs back? That is a mirage, that is not going to happen,” he says. “Coal is one of the most expensive forms of fossil fuels to produce. And those jobs are never going to come back, ever. They’re done.”

His opinions about the EPA dismantling the Clean Power Plan are equally acerbic. “Isn’t that sort of like putting a Band-Aid on somebody that has terminal cancer?” Ross said. “I’m not the smartest guy in the room but it’s not that complicated, OK? How’s fossil fuels going to compete in the next five years? They’re not going to be able to compete,” he tells The Guardian. “We were on the frontier of the fossil fuel business, oil and gas,” Ross says. “And now Texas again is on the frontier of the new energy that’s going to be the future.”

Back in Lancaster, city manager Bozigian also emphasizes economics over politics. “Mayor Parris says that the mistake that advocates make is to make it a politicized issue, which means everyone looks at it through a political prism. This is an issue that’s more important than that. It’s common sense.”

Lancaster (California) Is “Solar Power Capital Of The Universe”, by Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica, October 16, 2017.

BYD Unveils North America’s Largest Electric Bus Factory with Bipartisan Group of Senior Officials

BYD has unveiled its expanded battery-electric bus  manufacturing facility — North America’s largest — with bipartisan support from elected officials including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield); California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon; Congress members Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-San Pedro); 2018 California Gubernatorial Candidate and former mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa; California Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Lancaster); Los Angeles County Supervisor  Kathryn  Barger; city of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex  Parris and BYD leadership including Chairman and President of BYD Company Limited Wang Chuanfu, President of BYD Motors Inc. Stella Li and Senior Vice President of BYD Motors Inc. Macy Neshati. BYD’s nearly 800 employees in California were also on hand to help commemorate the new expansion for the Coach and Bus factory.

The grand opening celebration commemorated the addition of a new wing to the current BYD Coach and Bus space, bringing the total manufacturing facility to nearly 450,000 square feet. This expansion nearly quadruples BYD’s facility from its initial 2013 footprint.

The growth of BYD Coach and Bus reflects a rapid transition to electric transportation and will allow BYD to build up to 1,500 battery-electric buses annually. Since BYD established its U.S. electric bus manufacturing capabilities in Los Angeles County, the company has created nearly 800 full-time jobs throughout the state. This manufacturing facility expansion will enable BYD to hire up to 1,200 full-time workers at top production-line capacity. This manufacturing facility is powered 100 percent by renewable energy, which is provided by the city of Lancaster’s Energy Company, Lancaster Choice Energy.

BYD Unveils North America’s Largest Electric Bus Factory with Bipartisan Group of Senior Officials, by Byd Motors INC., Mass Transit, October 16, 2017.

Pico Rivera Is Getting a New Electricity Provider Soon; Here’s What It Means for Your Bill

Pico Rivera is getting in to the energy business beginning Friday with the launch of a program officials say will offer lower rates than Southern California Edison’s.

The program — called the Pico Rivera Innovative Municipal Energy, or PRIME, program — will partner the city with state regulators and the city of Lancaster to provide cost-efficient energy with a greater share from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, officials said.

“This will be a great energy alternative for our residents,” City Manager Rene Bobadilla said in a statement. “Residents will not only be re-investing in their community, but they will also have an opportunity to procure cleaner energy sources at an affordable rate.”

He said PRIME will make the city more flexible when it comes to controls over pricing and sourcing.

A typical resident using about 500 kilowatts a month would save about $5, according to staff reports.

Although the final rates have not been set, the program is expected to save the city, residents and businesses $1 million total, Mayor Bob Archuleta said.

“The money the city will save will go to help pay for services for the community,” he said.

The program will also help the city stick to its environmental goals.

“With so much uncertainty at the federal level, it is extremely refreshing to see local governments making positive changes towards minimizing their own carbon footprint,” Bobadilla said.

The City Council passed the ordinance in December allowing it to enter into a joint powers authority with the city of Lancaster, which will be the lead city.

As part of the program, SCE will continue to handle infrastructure costs, such as maintenance, reading meters, billing and processing payments, responding to service requests, and handling any power outages, officials said.

Only the source and price of electricity flowing to residents’ homes and businesses will change.

Customers can choose to opt out of the program. The three options from which consumers can choose are:

• PRIME Power, the most cost-effective plan with 50 percent renewable energy

• PRIME Future, 100 percent renewable energy at a slightly higher rate

• PRIME Partner, for solar users who can earn up to 100 percent more for energy fed to the grid

The city’s transition from SCE to PRIME will be complete in May 2018, when businesses will make the switch-over, according to Pico Rivera officials.

SCE customers who choose not to enroll in PRIME will have the opportunity to opt out without penalty and remain with SCE.

Full rate details plus opt-out and opt-up instructions will be available in English and Spanish at poweredbyprime.org or by calling 1-800-467-7463.

Pico Rivera Is Getting a New Electricity Provider Soon; Here’s What It Means for Your Bill, by Sandra T. Molina, Whittier Daily News, August 28, 2017.